Just in time for New York Comic Con we have a super story. Recently, DC Comics has opposed a mark because it will damage their SUPERMAN mark. The opposed mark is SUPER SPORTS LEAGUE applied for by Dean Snowden in International Classes 25, 28, and 41. The mark also includes a logo design featuring a diamond with the word SUPER in a very large font and SPORTS LEAGUE in a substantially smaller font right under the word SUPER. If you ask me, that seems pretty darn Superman-esque.
Image of Super Sports LeagueThis is an intent to use mark so we are not quite sure what Snowden is up to, guess that just comes with the last name. The mark was applied for in classes that cover clothes, sports activity services and sports equipment such as baseballs and footballs. Snowden works for a rights management company that may be registering the mark for someone else. Espionage.
This mark seems doomed for failure. DC Comics sites several SUPERMAN marks and design marks (you know which Superman design I’m talking about) dating back to 1981 for goods ranging from comic books to yo-yos. DC goes on to propose the well-known trademark opposition arguments: “[C]onsumers are likely to be deceived into falsely believing that the services offered by Applicant (Snowden) under Applicant’s Mark originate from or are otherwise associated with or endorsed by Opposer (DC)” and the other classic “Applicant’s Mark will damage Opposer by trading on the enormous goodwill associated with Opposer’s Mark and diluting its distinctiveness,” because the SUPERMAN mark and logo design are so famous.
Valid points by DC in my opinion. When you hear the word SUPER and see that diamond logo design, what immediately pops into your head? It seems pretty obvious that SUPER SPORTS LEAGUE intends to trade off of SUPERMAN’s fame and success. Between the SUPER similarities and the “Superman diamond” logo clone, it’s very unlikely Snowden was going for anything other than trading off SUPERMAN’s success and recognition. If Snowden really wanted this mark registered, why would he use the classic Superman diamond logo? He may argue that it symbolizes a baseball diamond, but c’mon bud, we all know what you’re doing there. Redesign that logo and un-super-size the SUPER in the logo, and maybe you can get this through.
Ultimately, I believe this mark won’t be SUPERMAN’s kryptonite and will suffer the same fate as much maligned Batman v. Superman movie. Snowden either has to change the name of his sports league or at the very least redesign his logo, because as of right now I’m sure the USPTO examining attorney will have him sad-Afflecking his way back to Los Angeles.
Author, and superhero, Martin Passante, is a 2L at Brooklyn Law School. Martin focuses his studies in intellectual property, entertainment, and copyright law especially in the world of YouTube.