How to Get a Trademark for a Comic Book Superhero Character

By Victoria McGrath

Trademarks cover comic book characters' names and logos. Any character's name or logo used on products offered in commercial trade may qualify as a trademark. A trademark generally contains any combination of original words, signs, symbols, phrases and designs. A trademark may not contain generic or merely descriptive terms, such as "bat" or "man". However, the character name "Batman" qualifies as a unique combination of words and the Batman logo qualifies as a unique design. Registration of comic book character names must not infringe on other trademark owners' rights.

Trademarks cover comic book characters' names and logos. Any character's name or logo used on products offered in commercial trade may qualify as a trademark. A trademark generally contains any combination of original words, signs, symbols, phrases and designs. A trademark may not contain generic or merely descriptive terms, such as "bat" or "man". However, the character name "Batman" qualifies as a unique combination of words and the Batman logo qualifies as a unique design. Registration of comic book character names must not infringe on other trademark owners' rights.

Step 1

Choose a unique comic book character name to identify your hero and distinguish him from other comic book heroes. Avoid names similar to other comic book characters that may create confusion between the two. Similar names with a likelihood of confusion generally do not qualify for trademark registration, since they may infringe on the other trademark owner's rights.

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Step 2

Use the comic book character's name, logo and slogans on products offered in commercial trade. Create a stylized mark out of the name, with a specific color, font and size. Draw a sketch of the logo. Prepare sample products with the name and the logo placed on each product. Consider action figures, lunch boxes and costumes. Offer the trademarked products for sale in the marketplace.

Step 3

Search the Internet and state and federal trademark registration databases for similar marks. Conduct one search for the character's name and another search for the design logo. Use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System for registered trademarks and pending applications.

Step 4

Access the state trademark office of each state where the marks will be predominately used in commercial trade. Most states offer online trademark registration information and services. Download a state registration application for each applicable state.

Step 5

Complete a separate state application for each trademark registration, as necessary. Provide a drawing of the stylized name mark and a drawing of the logo design. Pay applicable filing fees for each trademark application. Submit the application online or by mail.

Step 6

Complete a use-based federal registration application for each name, logo or slogan to be used as a trademark. Choose a use-based application based on the use of the trademark in commercial trade -- either current use in commerce or an intent to use the mark in the future. Review the federal trademark registration process on the USPTO website.

Step 7

Fill in ownership information on the federal registration form, including the date the character's name was first used in commercial trade. The date of first use refers to the use of the mark anywhere and also to its first use in commercial trade. Sign a sworn affidavit to confirm you are the rightful owner of the trademark, developed the mark and used it first.

Step 8

Select the types of goods or services applicable to each trademark. Two examples of goods include toy action figures and character T-shirts. Each type of good falls under a category. For example, character T-shirts may be categorized as clothing, footwear and head gear, which is International Class 25. Calculate the filing fees based on the number of categories selected for each trademark product.

Step 9

Submit the application online or by mail. Pay the filing fees. Include the drawings of the stylized name mark and logo. Send samples of the trademarks on the products as used in commercial trade. Save the application confirmation if processed online.

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How to Trademark a Clothing Label

References

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How to Trademark a Name in Michigan

Your trademark name distinguishes the products you offer in the marketplace from your competitors' products. You can establish trademark rights in your brand name in three different ways -- through common law usage, state registration and federal registration. Under common law, you automatically acquire basic trademark rights once you use your unique brand name in association with your goods offered in commercial trade. For state registration in Michigan, you register your trademark through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The registration confirms your claim of ownership over the trademark name within the state. Optional federal trademark registration, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, offers exclusive rights to use the trademark throughout the United States.

What Does "Date of First Use" Mean on a Trademark?

The first company to use an trademark secures exclusive ownership rights in the trademark. The "date of first use" refers to the date a trademark owner uses an original mark to identify his goods or services in the marketplace. A trademark includes an original mark, sign, symbol, word or design -- or a combination of words, phrases or designs -- to identify and distinguish a company's goods and services from its competitors. Trademarks help the general public identify their preferred products in the marketplace. The exclusive trademark rights depend on the originality of the mark and the date of first use in commercial trade.

How to Register a Service Mark

A trademark is a logo or a phrase identifying particular goods sold in commerce; a service mark, by contrast, is a logo or phrase that identifies particular services offered by an individual or business. The terms "trademark" and "service mark" are often used interchangeably, and the process for registration of both types of marks is identical. Applying for a service mark can be very intensive due to the need to perform a thorough background search to make sure that the proposed service mark is not in use. Before attempting to register a service mark on your own, you should contact an online document preparation service or an attorney for legal counsel.

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