I am currently at that point with Marvel ... AND DC. Why?
Marvel and DC are asserting trademark rights on the word "superhero". Thus, no other company or writer can called any of their characters a 'superhero'. The case in point involves the stunningly innocuous "Superhero Happy Hour", a cute little series I've read on occasion.
This infuriates me for several reasons.
- My sense of fair play is offended when people use frivolous trademark assertions as threats to intimidate their competition rather than offering superior products and services.
- If I have to see TM after every use by DC of the term "superhero"(oh, EXCUSE ME, I meant "super-hero"TM; can I say "superhero" here? Is DC going to sue me?), I think I'll simply stop reading comics and focus on Latin & Greek Literature, instead. Not a lot of trademark fights between Aeschylus and Euripides over who owns the term "deus ex machina" (of course, I suppose DC owns that now, too).
- What's next? "Invulnerable"tm? "Amazon"tm? "Mutant"tm? "Villain"tm? Aren't those words that make most people think of comic books? Will DC and Marvel go after "super-ego"? Maybe only DC and Marvel's egos will be allowed to be called "super-egos"... .
- Do you use adhesive strips, pain relievers, and facial tissue? No; you use band-aids, aspirin, and kleenex, regardless of the brand. Still, those are pretty clearly "brand names"; but "super-hero", the combination of a basic Greek root and a simple Latin prefix, the kind of word our language produces naturally, couldn't be farther from a "brand name" if it tried.
- Even if successful, DC and Marvel will have accomplished nothing whatsoever except the proliferation of embarrassing linguistic folderol like "megaheroes" and "ultraheroes", and the media and 'oi polloi will STILL call them all superheroes. So will I; aggressively.
- It seems quite sufficient to me that DC and Marvel dominate an entire genre of literature. Trying to trademark a genre through ownership of its keywords is greedy, overkill, and smacks of insecurity.
I would be happy -- oh, so happy -- to be proven wrong in reporting this to you. I would delighted to be mistaken, or to have to eat my words when DC (at least) says, "oh no, we aren't doing that, our bad."
Make me happy, DC. Because right now, I am mad.