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By: Ashley Michael

Want to avoid a lawsuit? The solution may be to buy a thesaurus. 

Marvelous. Fantastic. Stupendous. Aspiring comic book creators and film makers, jot these words down if you intend to describe your main characters as a group of heroes possessing superior talents or skills, because you can’t use super. It turns out, that combining the words “super” and “heroes” requires permission in such instances. This is because the term is officially trademarked

“Super Heroes” is an active service mark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Shockingly, the mark is jointly registered and owned by both DC Comics (“DC”) and Marvel Characters, Inc. (“Marvel”). The two rival organizations decided to band together to protect themselves. Recognizing the popularity of the term, they sought to prevent others in the entertainment industry from using the term. DC and Marvel’s registration of the mark with the USPTO means that individuals seeking to use the term for related entertainment purposes must contact DC and Marvel for permission. Using the mark without their permission will likely result in a cease-and-desist letter from DC and Marvel’s legal representative demanding that use of the term immediately stop at the individual’s expense. 

DC and Marvel registered the term “Super Heroes” as a standard character mark in black and white. This gives the organizations the most flexibility in terms of how they can use the mark. Black and white submissions for standard character marks allow the owner of the mark to display the mark in any font, size, and color the owner would like and still be protected. Whereas, marks registered with a specific color or design for a mark must adhere to the color and design to be protected. 

Interested in registering a trade or service mark with the USPTO? Lancaster Tech Law can help. Please contact us for additional information.