Monday, September 18, 2023
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The logo he deserves: DC Comics prevails in Batman trademark fight 

The publisher registered the oval-shaped bat logo with the European Union in 1996. 

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CN) — An Italian company did not get away with contesting the copyright of the Caped Crusader on Wednesday, as the EU’s second-highest court rejected a claim the logo was too generic. 

The General Court of the European Court of Justice sided with DC Comics, which had been fending off an attempt by a manufacturer of disposable tableware to strip the registration of the famed Bat Signal symbol so the design could be used by other brands. 

Commerciale Italiana, which makes paper coffee cups and compostable cutlery, sought to reverse decisions from the European Union Intellectual Property Office, the organization charged with oversight of trademark registration in the bloc. Both the office's cancellation division and its appeals board previously concluded that the logo was sufficiently connected to the superhero to warrant protection. 

The comic creator has held the rights to use the logo on everything from Halloween costumes to novelty buttons for nearly a quarter-century. 

Naples-based Commerciale Italiana meanwhile argued that the logo — an oval with a bat representation inside — was too generic and accused the EUIPO of failing to not properly justify its rejection. 

Luigi Aprile, Commerciale Italiana’s solo owner, wanted to be allowed to use the logo on a wide variety of goods, including T-shirts and party hats. 

The Luxembourg-based court found that the image was clearly connected to the crime fighter. “The evidence put forward by the applicants is not sufficient to show that the relevant public did not associate the Batman character with the [DC Comics],” the three-judge panel wrote. 

Aprile also disputed the right of DC Comics, which is now owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, to trademark a logo associated with a fictional person. European Union trademark regulations protect logos and branding to ensure that consumers can understand where a product comes from. 

For the judges, however, that purpose was not undercut by limiting the logo to the bat-inspired billionaire with a vendetta. “It must be noted that the fact that that mark is associated with a fictitious character does not, in itself, make it possible to rule out that that mark can also serve as an indication of the origin of the goods in question,” the ruling states. 

The caper may not be over yet. Commerciale Italiana and Aprile could get vengeance at the EU's highest court. It has two months to appeal. 

Follow @mollyquell
Categories / Appeals, Business, Entertainment, Media

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