Marvel and DC comics have tried to jointly trademark the term “Superhero.”Ã‚Â Given that this term is used all over the place, and not unique to Marvel and DC comics, this would be a bad trademark, if granted.Ã‚Â This is a generic term, and not something that any company or companies should be granted trademark protection on.Ã‚Â This week, the LA Times ran an editorial chastizing these companies and the science museum which is involved in this.
In trademark law, the more unusual a term, the more it qualifies for protection. We would have no quarrel with Marvel and DC had they called their superheroes “actosapiens,” then trademarked that. But purely generic terms aren’t entitled to protection, at least in theory. The reason is simple: Trademarks restrict speech, and to put widely used terms under private control is an assault on our language.
Once a trademark is granted, it remains in effect until someone proves to the feds that the term has lost its association with a specific brand, as happened with “cellophane” and “linoleum.” That’s why Johnson & Johnson sells “Band-Aid brand adhesive bandages,” not simply Band-Aids(TM).
[tags]Trademarks, Marvel comics, DC comics[/tags]