Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The (super) power of words

The Los Angeles Times weighs in against Marvel and DC's joint trademark of the term "super hero" and its variations:
In trademark law, the more unusual a term, the more it qualifies for protection. We would have no quarrel with Marvel and DC had they called their superheroes "actosapiens," then trademarked that. But purely generic terms aren't entitled to protection, at least in theory. The reason is simple: Trademarks restrict speech, and to put widely used terms under private control is an assault on our language.

(Link via Neilalien.)


  1. I read this article too, and one thing has me stumped: do we have an etymology for the word "actospaiens"? Because it's a nice word and we might want to consider using it, bt I'd like to know where it came from, or if the LAT reporter invented it.

  2. I've never been sure about the TMing of "superhero." It's never been really taken to court, of course, and any court case would likely be settled before any official judgement was made, so it remains.