Back in June 2017, Marvel Comics applied to register the trademark “Jean Grey” for “comic books; printed periodicals in the field of comic book stories and artwork.” They were publishing a comic book of that name, they had plans ahead, they wanted to get in there before Fox — it all made sense.
But the US Government had other ideas. Citing the Wikipedia entry for Jean Grey and Marvel’s own website, they stated that they were refusing the trademark as the registration “identifies only the name of a particular character in a creative work; it does not function as a trademark to identify and distinguish applicant’s goods from those of others and to indicate the source of applicant’s goods,” stating that, “because it is the name of the main individual in applicant’s comic books and shown only in the title; there is no other evidence, such as use of the character name on a display, that would show use of it as a mark. The additional attached internet evidence also shows that JEAN GREY is used to identify a popular character in the X-Men franchise.”
And apparently the fact that the mark may be used as a title is “not sufficient to obviate this refusal,” and there is precedent where a name “used in the title of each book in a series of children’s books, does not function as a mark where it merely identifies the main characters in the books” because apparently “marks that merely identify a character in a creative work, whether used in a series or in a single work, are not registrable.”
Marvel was invited to respond to submit evidence that “the applied-for mark is used to identify the goods in addition to identifying the character.”
Oh, and while they were at it, confirm that Jean Grey is not a real living person.
Well, Marvel has now responded, and is using evidence of its claims, almost 700 pages’ worth, of images of valid trademarks — mostly from DC Comics — to make its point.
Which is basically a) yes, we can, b) you’ve done it for other people before, and c) you’ve done it for us before. Everything from Mork & Mindy T-shirt decals to the distinctive logo of the Jean Grey comics series (don’t let anyone know, the last issue just came out) and all the other such characters that have had trademarks approved, including Superman, Batman, Batman & Robin, The Flash, Flash Gordon, Catwoman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Little Engine That Could… okay, we’re moving off-piste here, Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Grizzly Adams, Pikachu, Speed Racer, Jonny Quest, Lukcy Luke, Lilo And Stitch, Lizzie McGuire, Mulan, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, and Mystic (that’s right, Marvel just referred to a CrossGen property).
Oh, and yes, other X-Men characters that they had approved registered trademarks for, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm and Professor X, as well as Iron Man, Blade, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nova, Thunderbolts, Daredevil, Defenders, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Rockjet Raccoon, Thanos, and Iron Patriot.
“Just as these fictional characters have been allowed to register as trademarks, Applicant’s JEAN GREY mark should also be allowed to register as a trademark” and that “for the foregoing reasons, Applicant respectfully requests that the application be approved for publication.”
Could the 700-page document be there just to wear everyone down? Oh and you can read a review of next week’s Jean Grey-lead comic X-Men Red, right here.
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