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The Trademark Reporter®
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May-June, 2010 Vol. 100 No. 3 Back to TMR Main Page
 
The "Amazing Adventures" of Super Hero®
 
 
When two high school students, writer Jerome Siegel and illustrator Joseph Shuster, created the Super Hero character Superman in the summer of 1935, they never dreamed that nearly 75 years later a company with ownership rights to about 5,000 Super Hero characters would be acquired for the unimaginable sum of $4 billion by the cartoon company Walt Disney. After reviewing the development of Super Hero characters, this article examines how DC Comics, the company that acquired the rights to Superman from Siegel and Shuster, and Marvel Comics, the company eventually purchased by Disney, jointly managed to acquire the rights in the trademark SUPER HERO across a broad range of product categories and to enforce those rights despite the arguably generic nature of the term “Super Hero.” Further, it addresses the public policy implications of allowing competitors jointly to control a term that could be considered generic to their industry.
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