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.

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.

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.

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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 Nationally Trademark a Name

A trademark demonstrates the exclusive right to use a specific mark in trade or commerce. The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a mark as a symbol, design, word or name or any combination thereof. Although the right to use a trademarked name is established through legitimate use in business, national registration provides additional benefits such as the right to bring legal action against unauthorized use of the name.

How to Get a Cartoon Character Copyrighted

A copyright gives the owner exclusive rights in an original creative work. Although copyright protection automatically exists for a cartoon character depicted in a tangible form, registration with the U.S. Copyright Office provides public notice of copyright and a basis for enforcement of your rights under the U.S. Copyright Act. Online copyright registration has advantages, such as a lower filing fee and faster processing than registration by mail. Copyright law does not protect the name, general theme or other intangible attributes of a cartoon character, but federal trademark, state and common law may protect these attributes.

How to Register an LLC in New York

When forming an LLC in New York, you must select a name not already in use. It is a good idea to select a name or design for your logo that you can trademark. The registration of your LLC's trademark in New York prevents other businesses from using the designation in the state. You can check to see if your proposed trademark is available by contacting the Miscellaneous Records Division of the New York Department of State. Trademarking is not required, but doing so protects the label you want to use. Additionally, a foreign LLC, or company formed outside of New York, must register to legally do business in New York. Also, an LLC with employees must register with the federal government for tax purposes using its employer identification number (EIN) -- the number the IRS and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance use to identity the LLC.

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