If you can figure out what the heck this logo means, you win all of Bruce Wayne’s money. JinJiang OuPinHui Garments, a China-based clothing brand, is facing an opposition instituted by DC Comics in response to its proposed logo:In June 2017, JinJiang OuPinHui Garments filed the application for the mark and when JinJiang OuPinHui Garments thought it was safe, DC Comics swooped in. On the last day of the publication period, DC Comics submitted a request to the USPTO for an extension of time to oppose the mark. The extension of time was granted that same day, granting DC Comics 30 more days to collect information and file its official opposition against JinJiang OuPinHui Garments’ mark. January rolled around, however, and DC Comics still wasn’t ready to file the opposition against the mark. It asked for another 60-day extension, stating that it needed more time to investigate the claim and talk to its lawyers. Naturally, the USPTO allowed this additional extension, giving DC Comics until March 7, 2018 to file its opposition. DC Comics got to work and filed its notice of opposition on February 8, 2018.
It its opposition, DC Comics claimed that registration of the JinJiang OuPinHui Garments’ mark would cause a likelihood of confusion among consumers as to the source of the goods bearing the mark. It also claimed that registration of the JinJiang OuPinHui Garments’ mark would result in dilution by blurring, which happens when a famous mark (such as the Bat Symbol) is at risk for losing its distinctiveness or *uniqueness *because so many others are using it.
It’s not surprising that DC Comics owns so many variations of the Bat Symbol, both registered and non-registered with the USPTO. Naturally, DC Comics cited many of those variations as a basis for its opposition.
DC Comics stated in its opposition that Batman has been around since 1939 and that the mark has been used in everything from clothing, video games, toys, and comic books. This use gives DC Comics priority in use of the mark, which deems its rights in use of the symbol superior to JinJiang OuPinHui Garments’. Additionally, DC Comics stated that Bat Symbol has become famous and has “captured the popular imagination.” DC Comics continued, stating that “it is beyond dispute that today the Batman lore is one of a rarified group of legends known and loved throughout the world.”
Therefore, because DC Comics’ marks are so similar to JinJiang OuPinHui Garments’ proposed mark, DC Comics was the first to use the mark, and DC Comics’ Bat Symbol mark has become famous, it argued that JinJiang OuPinHui Garments would wrongly benefit from DC Comics’ goodwill and reputation if it was allowed to use its proposed mark. Additionally, the similarity between the proposed JinJiang OuPinHui Garments mark and the Bat Symbol, consumers would be deceived into believing that JinJiang OuPinHui Garments was associated with DC Comics in any way.
It seems pretty obvious that JinJiang OuPinHui Garments’ mark and DC Comics’ Bat Symbol are similar, so I can’t disagree with DC Comics’ attempt at squashing this mark before it’s registered. If JinJiang OuPinHui Garments had done its research (or hired a lawyer), it would know that DC Comics is pretty well-known for enforcing its visual marks. For example, DC Comics is in the midst of opposing many marks resembling DC-owned characters and IP, such as Showerman.
We will have to wait and see what JinJiang OuPinHui Garments says in response to the opposition. Likely nothing as it may choose to give up the mark completely, but perhaps they’re willing to fight for their quirky mark.
Author, Caroline Womack, is a 2L at Quinnipiac University School of Law and primarily studies intellectual property law, focusing on video game and internet law.