Marvel and DC have always been one up against another when it comes to superheroes and their stories. But this rivalry, like most feuds, transformed into an alliance when combating a single enemy – which is the claim and monopoly over the word Superhero. Like most joint custodies are – this one too is complicated. But they find a way to make it work. To the world, they may be competitors, but for this trademark, they function step in step with one another.
Is this unusual? Yes it really is. Trademarks are usually assigned to a single proprietor or a company, but this trademark is unusual in many ways. Firstly it is because two well-known competitors are sharing it. The others many may debate is the word itself. Is superhero just a word that can be trademarked like any other? Or is it too generic?
Let’s go back a bit. The word “superhero” itself was first found to be used in 1917, and defined as “public figure of great accomplishments”. But its commercialisation started once the two companies – DC & Marvel launched their comic books, and began licensing the various superhero figures like – spiderman, superman, batman, etc. The franchises evolved to movies, merchandise, tv shows, cartoons, etc. So, rather than fighting it out with one another and spending money on litigation each time, the two giants came together on this issue and now co-own the trademark.
In fact, anyone who tries to trademark the term now is served with legal paperwork from both parties. This itself is enough to dissuade anyone from trying to register this mark. From being the creators of the superheroes-verse to ruling this genre, they rule it in the IP world too.