CREATOR TIP: TRADEMARKS AND SUPER HEROES #comicbook #comiclaw #artists #superheroes

So, you’re creating a new costumed hero and are thinking about trademark registration. It may have occurred to you that the term “Super Hero” would be the very definition of a generic term for costumed, superpowered heroes. In fact, you might think that term was free for anyone to use on their super human character’s merchandise. But think again: Marvel and DC jointly own registered trademarks for the term “Super Hero”!

• US Reg. #0825835 for SUPER HERO for masquerade costumes

• US Reg. #1140452 for SUPER HEROES for toy figures

• US Registration 1179067 for SUPER HEROES for “publications, particularly comic books and magazines and stories in illustrated form.”

Note: Marvel and DC take great pains to enforce their rights over this term and routinely oppose others who try and register the term “Super Hero,” “Superheroes,” and similar variations as part of their marks.

For a thoughtful analysis of the history of this joint registration as well as an argument that the term “Super Hero” might be generic, see “The ‘Amazing Adventures’ or Super Hero®,” Ross D. Petty (Trademark Rep. 100, 729).

Parts of this blog been excerpted from The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators.

© 2017 Thomas A. Crowell, Esq.

Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. ( is a partner at the law firm of Lane Sash & Larrabee, LLP. He focuses his practice on intellectual property and media law.