Lots of people make fan works based on corporate intellectual property. Most companies will turn a blind eye to it in the belief that it’s just fans doing it — it’s just part of their devotion to the original works and as long as they don’t go too far, it will be fine.
But sometimes they go too far.
Take this fan series based on the Marvel Comics character Sleepwalker, created by Bob Budiansky. One Josh Noftz of Blue Bison Media has been directing it, based on the original comic.
Rick Sheridan, an lackadaisical film student, seems to have everything going for him until a mysterious being from another realm gets trapped inside his mind.
Part of a race of “mind police” called Sleepwalkers, the being can only exit Rick’s mind when Rick is unconscious. During these times, the Sleepwalker patrols the city, thwarting evil wherever it’s found.
Rick must come to terms with this new inconvenience in his life while both search for a way to return Sleepwalker to his home, the Mindscape.
Here’s a trailer.
And he would have probably have gotten away with it… if Blue Bison Media hadn’t tried to register a trademark for “Sleepwalker” under the categories “Publications, comic books and magazines and stories in illustrated form; trading cards. Video and Film Productions; toys; television show.”
Now, Marvel had a trademark that only ran from 1992 to 1999, but they have continued publication with a number of Sleepwalker projects since.
I expect that m’learned friends at Marvel Comics will be having a little chat with Josh Noftz sometime soon… trademark law means they would be obliged to at this point, or risk losing rights to name the very comic of which Josh is making a fan series.
Created by Bob Budiansky, Sleepwalker first appeared in Sleepwalker #1 in June 1991 until February 1994. All but two of were written by Budiansky, with Tom Brevoort and Mike Kanterovich writing the Holiday Special and one fill-in issue. Dan Slott also contributed to issue #25.
Of late Sleepwalker appeared in Beyond!, Revenge of the Sinister Six, Ms Marvel, Irredeemable Ant-Man, Fantastic Four and Avenging Spider-Man.
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