How to Get a Trademark for a Comic Book Superhero Character

By River Braun, J.D.

How to Get a Trademark for a Comic Book Superhero Character

By River Braun, J.D.

If you have created a superhero character but are afraid of sharing it because you don't want anyone to steal your idea, you can protect your creation by applying for a trademark. A mark is a word, symbol, phrase, or design that distinguishes a product from others. Some common examples include Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds.

Man illustrating comics

If you want to formally obtain protection for your comic book superhero character, follow these four basic steps.

1. Conduct searches for the name and logo.

The character name and logo you choose must be unique, and they cannot infringe on another person's trademark rights. Avoid a name that is too similar to another comic superhero, as this could create confusion and infringe on another owner's rights. A name that's too similar or uses common words will likely result in a denied application.

Once you have your name and logo, you need to conduct a search to determine whether a similar name and logo already have protection. You can use the USPS Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to search for previously registered and pending applications. You should also search the internet and state databases for similar marks.

2. Use your comic book character name and logo.

After you choose a name and logo, you must use it in commerce. Prepare products to sell that include the character's name and logo, and sell them to customers. Examples of items you may want to consider include costumes, backpacks, lunchboxes, and cups. This step enables you to place your marks on the Principle Register, which affords your marks more protection than the Supplemental Register or an intent-to-use application.

3. Register with state offices.

Decide where you will primarily sell your items. In each of those states, complete an application for trademark registration. They generally offer online applications, but you must check each website for the requirements and documentation needed to register your comic book superhero. Although it affords more protections to your mark, applications may still offer some key protections in the event that you are unable to obtain federal protection.

4. Complete an application.

Register each name, slogan, or logo associated with your character by completing a federal trademark application for each one. A use-based application can apply to a mark currently used in commerce or a mark that you will use in commerce in the near future.

The information you must submit with your trademark application for your superhero character includes:

  • Ownership information (your name, address, and contact information)
  • The date on which you first used the character's name or mark in commercial trade
  • The type of goods or services that will use the logo or name (the filing fee depends on the number of categories you choose)
  • Drawings of the name and logo
  • Samples of the mark seen on products you have produced and sold

The USPTO website provides information and FAQs about filing for a federal trademark. You can choose to handle this type of application on your own by following these steps. Should you need additional information, you can find it on the USPTO website.

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