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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Marvel and DC comics back down against Londoner (let's not make any jokes here)

Real-life superhero? Marvel and DC comics back down against Londoner

Graham Jules wins two-and-a-half-year fight against comic giants over use of word ‘superhero’ in his book title

It seemed like far from an even fight at first glance – with the multi-billion dollar forces behind Batman, Superman and Captain America in one corner and a small scale British entrepreneur on the other.

But after a two-and-a-half-year wrangle with Graham Jules, it is the combined might of the comic book giants Marvel and DC who have raised a white flag after initially claiming that using the word superhero would infringe their jointly owned trademark.

Jules, a 48-year-old who runs a firm setting up pop-up shops and is studying law, had been about to publish his self-help manual Business Zero to Superhero in 2014, when he got a warning letter from the two companies.

The Londoner fought back and, at one point, rejected an offer of “a couple of thousand” to change his book title.

Now, the publishers have backed down and admitted defeat four days before a planned hearing at the Intellectual Property Office in London.

Jules, who runs a firm setting up pop-up shops, had compiled his entire case without legal aid using a single textbook about intellectual property law.

Tristan Sherliker, an associate solicitor at the intellectual property law firm EIP, described the cases as a “classic David v Goliath” battle.

DC and Marvel have a history of stopping others from using “superhero” according to Sherliker.

“Just because a word is in the dictionary doesn’t mean it can’t be part of a brand: just think of the global value of the Apple brand,” said Sherliker.

“But it will be surprising for people to learn that two huge comic book publishers, normally competitors, have united to ‘own’ this word and avoid others from using it.”

Last night I counted the number of times "super hero" and "super heroes" was used in advertising on TV/You tube. In one hour -23 times.  Also, if you mention "super heroes" in reviews or blogs or video blogs -IF these bullies had won- you would have been breaching copyright and even "Super hero(c)Marvel and DC Comics" would not have helped. Any movie made by companies not associated with the Big Two Bullies, any kids TV show (any TV show really), any magazine, newspaper article, items on the radio -every comic publisher in every country no matter how small, just using the term "super hero" would have opened them up to legal action.

Marvel and DC did this jointly.  Why?  Well, firstly, neither knows WHO used the term first so they'd be fighting each other in court and that means losing money.  Always pick on the small guy. Also because if it had gone in their favour it would have made them a lot of money. Imagine your 8 year old in a park wraps his/her jumper round their shoulders and jumps about: "Look at me -I'm a super hero!"  You could expect a tap on the shoulder from a lawyer: "Your child is in breach of our copyright -see you in court!"

Okay, being silly with that last bit but this is not a silly matter. 

The IPC over zealous Intellectual Properties man and their legal department even threatened to take me to court over my own characters that I created back in the early 1970s with a well chronicled history.  I was told to stop using them by a group of people who cited cases such as DC comics suing Marvel Comics in the 1950s to prevent them using Marvel Man.  Well, Marvel never existed in the 1950s -it was Timely or Atlas. And DC sued Fawcett Publications over Captain Marvel. I still have all the threats documented and even went to the owners of IPC and asked WHY they were threatening me?  Apparently they had no idea this was going on and after that nothing more.  These days I'm on friendlier terms with IPC Media but....

Graham Jules really is a hero!

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