13 June 2023TrademarksMarisa Woutersen

DC Comics fights off challenge over Batman logo

Court dismisses Italian designer’s claim over the caped crusader’s symbol | DC Comics scores victory as bat logo is protected for costumes and masks.

A dispute over the validity of an EU trademark of the iconic Batman symbol has been settled by the EU General Court.

Luigi Aprile, an Italian designer specialising in carnival clothes, failed in his attempt to appeal a decision made by the Second Board of Appeal of the EUIPO, which had earlier dismissed its bid to have the mark declared invalid.

The General Court agreed with the Board of Appeal's decision determining the Batman symbol as having a distinctive enough character to warrant its own trademark and encompassing clothing items such as costumes and masks.

The ruling, decided on June 7, involved Aprile and Commerciale Italiana, and  DC Comics, which had registered its logo with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

In its 2019 declaration of invalidity, Aprile argued that the trademark lacked distinctive character and was merely descriptive and requested that the EUIPO annul the trademark for clothes and carnival items.

The Italian designer wanted to limit the scope of the application as the trademark encompassed costumes and masks associated with Batman.

At first, the EUIPO Cancellation Division refused to limit the scope of the application for a declaration of invalidity. However, the division then dismissed the entire application.

Aprile escalated the matter by appealing to the Board of Appeal, which ultimately affirmed the decision of the Cancellation Division.

The Board of Appeal contended that the Batman character was intrinsically linked to DC Comics, while Aprile failed to demonstrate any association of the Batman symbol with another origin or unauthorised use in the market.

Aprile then brought the case before the General Court, seeking the annulment of the contested decision.

The General Court rejected all the pleas and upheld the Board of Appeal’s decision.

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