ChameleonsEye /
7 August 2020TrademarksMuireann Bolger

DC Comics wins trademark fight over Superman ‘S’ logo

DC Comics has won a trademark battle over the logo letter ‘S’ that it uses for its “Superman” branding, after the  UK Intellectual Property Office found in its favour on 30 July.

Superglide Bi-Folds applied for the trademark with a prominent ‘S’, logo to be used for advertising its window and door-fitting business on 18 November 2018.  DC Comics opposed the application on 21 December 2018, claiming grant of the trademark was likely to lead to consumer confusion, would “tarnish DC Comics reputation” and would “give an unfair advantage to the applicant”.

The company also said that it “owns goodwill connected to the signs” and that it is entitled to prevent the use of the application “under the law of passing off”.

The UKIPO noted that the disputed mark comprised a squashed, top-heavy ‘S’ inside a border resembling a diamond or cut gemstone, while DC Comics’ mark also contains a top-heavy ‘S’ within a diamond/gemstone-shaped border.

It found that while the marks were not quite identical, they were highly similar and likely to lead to “indirect confusion”. The court also agreed with DC Comics that the Superman logo is so iconic that it will be recognised regardless of the context of goods and services and would be brought to the mind of the consumer and “thus the link will be made”.

The UKIPO also accepted that the image portrayed by DC Comic’s marks, the Superman logo, is synonymous with Superman himself, who is known for his superhuman strength and that “strength is a quality which would be desirable in the product(s) fitted by the applicant’s services, windows and doors”.

The office also agreed that “given the presence of both the highly similar device and the word ‘Super’, there was question over the intention of the applicant”, and that  “despite the utilitarian nature of the services, if there is an intention, it is to derive a benefit from what the opponent had hitherto done with its marks”.

Superglide Bi-Folds argued that the logo letter ‘S’ is a symbol for “hope,” but the office  concluded that this symbol was a creation by the writers of the Superman stories, and was “not a generic, universally recognised symbol for hope”.

The UKIPO found against Superglide Bi-Folds and ordered the company to pay DC Comics’ costs.

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