Commenting on the case which has been dropped by Marvel and DC Comics against a British businessman over the legal right to use the word ‘superhero’, IP expert, Tristan Sherliker, associate solicitor, EIP, said:
“This news is great for Mr Jules. However it is also bad news for others who might be in similar positions, as they will never understand and learn from the true outcome of the case. Most likely, the move by Marvel and DC will have been taken to avoid a negative legal decision, which might have caused a more negative reaction and bigger embarrassment down the line.
“DC and Marvel have a history of stopping others from using the word ‘superhero’ despite it being an everyday word. 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, 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.
“The real legal position may often never be known. For a small business faced with a big complaint, it is much cheaper to change your name to another word like ‘superstar’ instead of fighting a legal battle.
“While this is a another win in a classic David vs Goliath case, a final decision from the tribunal could have made the judgement much clearer and have achieved a better understanding of IP rights for businesses where, notoriously, there is a lot of confusion.”