Robot 6

Iron Maiden’s lawsuit is ‘outrageous,’ comic creator says

Iron and the Maiden #2

Iron and the Maiden #2

The creator of the comic Iron and the Maiden calls the trademark-infringement lawsuit filed by heavy-metal band Iron Maiden “outrageous” and “completely without merit.”

The band wants to prevent Iron and the Maiden LLC from using the “confusingly similar” name to sell comic books, video games and other merchandise. It also seeks undisclosed damages.

“The Iron and the Maiden legal team believes that this case is completely without merit,” a spokesperson for creator Jason Rubin said in a statement. “It is outrageous to claim ownership of the well-known term ‘Iron Maiden,’ a medieval torture device that predates rock and roll by centuries and is part of world culture, legend and lore.”

Released through Aspen Comics in 2007, Iron and the Maiden centers on the characters Michael Iron and Angel Chase, who are caught in the middle of a war between the government, a religious sect and a criminal organization in an alternative-universe 1930s.

“The title is a play on the torture device,” the spokesperson said. “Any rational person who looks at the property at will immediately understand how ridiculous the assertions made in the complaint are.”



This was certainly my first thought. Iron Maiden should lose this one pretty swiftly.

My first thought was “get real, metal guys.”

But seeing that cover, I have to wonder whether the fact that “Iron Maiden” stands out dramatically while “and the” is barely even visible, at least from a distance… not sure that’s going to help the comics guys. :)

Bruce and the boys are smoking too much funny weed as of late. The 18th century called they want their favorite torture device back.

Yeah, “Iron” and “Maiden” are incredibly prominent on that cover. Plus the band probably has bigger scarier lawyers than the comic creators.

Yes, “Iron” and “Maiden” are very prominent, as those are the words of the torture device. I really hope the band loses this one.

Mysterious Stranger

May 6, 2009 at 7:13 am

I didn’t even know Iron Maiden was still together. That should tell you something about the merits of this case.

The confusing thing for me is Matt Fraction wasn’t allowed to call Pepper Pott’s new “Iron Woman” suit “Iron Maiden” because of legal matters from this comic. That coming from MARVEL’S lawyers who are probably bigger and scarier than Top Cow’s. So I’m pretty sure theirs some retarded precedent set by some other case that gives the band’s lawsuit some merit.
Just a guess, because I’m pretty positive they wouldn’t sue “just because.”

“there’s” not “theirs”… whoops. :P

@ Joe

Are you sure that’s because of this comic or the fact that there is already a female heroine called “Iron Maiden”. She’s part of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and has been around for over 4 decades, IIRC.

Wait, what? Matt Fraction said he couldn’t call Pepper Iron Maiden specifically because the Iron and the Maiden guys would crack down, but now: “It is outrageous to claim ownership of the well-known term ‘Iron Maiden.'”

Hypocrisy, anyone?

No way the band can win this one.
You don’t see TOOL suing people left and right, take a hint.

I think Max Allan Collins should sue the “Iron and the Maiden” creators for stealing the basic plot to “Road To Perdition” and dressing it up in a retro-future gloss.

For what it’s worth, the first time I saw his book on the stands I thought the band had licensed it. They very well could win, frankly.

I thought “Iron Maiden” was a character’s name in Marvel’s Earth X series. Why couldn’t they use it for the Pepper Potts character?

Yea, the whole premise is ridiculous…

They named the band EXACTLY after a well established term/item, then turn around and attempt suing when someone uses a term “very close” to their band name.

That logic would spur the University of Michigan to sue Marvel, etc.

Step away from the bong…

Also Iron Maiden never sued the creators of T.H.U.N.D.ER. Agents for the use of Iron Maiden long before any of this would tend to lessen their stance.

Eh, crossing formats voids trademark-infringements in almost every case. IE Whopper candy has been around for many years, but Burger King is fine with having the name Whopper as a burger. As long as the name does not “fool the populace” into thinking they are purchasing and/or using a certain brand of product, there is no infringment.

You can have a product called TIDE, but it better not be laundry related.

I see no-one confusing the band and their music with a comic of similar moniker. This is very assinine of the bands legal team.

I don’t understand. Why didn’t the band complain when Marvel introduced Iron Maiden(s) in the early 1980s and again in the middle and late 1990s? In the early 1980s Iron Maiden was a villain for the Black Widow. Iron Maiden was a mutant in the middle 1990s and depowered after M Day. And Iron Maiden was character in the Earth X universe in the late 1990s. So why are they just getting around to suing some comic book creator/company now?

“Hello Leg Warehouse? Does Iron Maiden the band have a leg to stand on? No? Ok, thanks.”

Jorge, there’s a difference between having a character with that name and using it on the cover. The issue here is trademarks. If the characters were Iron and Maiden, and the book was called “Steel and Chicks”, there would be no case, because “Iron Maiden” isn’t being used to advertise the book.

I think they have a pretty good case. The title graphic looks like the Iron Maiden logo. Rational people would get confused and think it’s an Iron Maiden comic. I think naming a comic “Iron and Maiden” was a stupid move by a creator who was just hoping they’d complain so he’d get martyr points.

But Kris, an iron maiden is a medieval torture device. You can’t claim trademark on the name of something like that. Do authors of medieval history have to send the band a check every time they use the phrase to describe the actual device? That would be absurd. It’s like Perry said, as long as the product being offered are dissimilar, they can legally go by the same name. And the logo doesn’t look nearly similar enough to even win that argument. I don’t see how anyone inclined to pick up an Iron Maiden comic in the first place could be confused. It would be like Plumtree suing Bryan Lee O’Malley for using the name Scott Pilgrim. The band has absolutely no case.

Kris, have you SEEN the band’s logo? How could say that the title graphic looks similar?

Alexa, yes they can claim a trademark on Iron Maiden. That is their band name. It is an established BRAND name. That’s all it takes, along with registering the trademark. It is actually that simple. Whether or not they can stop the comic book from being printed is another story. That is why we have courts.

Alan, Yes … A “brand” name for that brand of entertainment or service. There is no logo (or trademark) infringment here. There is no Tradmark infringement here. Another example … Hersheys Ice Cream (Or Hershey’s Creamery) is not a subsiderary of Hersheys Milk Chocolate. The two are not owned by the same company, nor do they share profits but they share a name. Hersheys could NOT go after …. errr Hersheys. (Although to be fair, I think this predates some of the laws).

Popeye the Sailor also has no relation to Popeye’s Chicken.

Nor or the Greeks sueing Disney for the use of the name Pluto ;-)

Boy I am full of typos tonight. Sorry guys. ” Nor ARE the Greeks …”

I’m sorry Kris, I reviewed you comment and found it without validity. Your argument is that rational people would think its an Iron Maiden comic book. The logo of the comic bares no resemblance to the logo of Iron Maiden at all. After reviewing several Iron Maiden album covers I found the Iron Maiden logo static in all the albums. Never did they alter the font design of the logo, and it was the same font design used for both words “Iron Maiden.” Clearly the font design for Iron and the Maiden is complete different and doesn’t even remotely resemble the Iron Maiden band logo.

Your other point is trademark infringement. That can’t happen because the logos are not the same and legally its not the same name. One is “Iron Maiden,” the music band, and the other is “Iron and the Maiden,” the comic book.

There are a few things to consider when trademark infringement cases go to court: (1) are the marks similar? (2) are the products similar? (3) are the products distributed or marketed in the same locations? (4) at those locations are potential customers confused about the product they are going to purchase because of the similarities?

Rational people shouldn’t be that confused, right? Different names, different logos, different products, different distribution centers, different content. There is nothing similar at all.

A completely silly lawsuit.

The logo doesn’t look much like the band’s logo, BUT it does look very much like it says “Iron Maiden”. And while many here seem to think that the band’s percieved popularity and/or relative coolness have some kind of bearing on their claim (and people say us geeks are detatched from reality! P’shaw!*), it seems, at least to me, that the band have possibly MORE of a claim on the name as a “brand” than they did in the eighties… especially since Maiden have been doing rather a lot of “platform crossing” in the last decade or so- computer games, action figures; even, IIRC, an airline… this could be seem as closing off an area of expansion- I.E. comics- for their brand. Seems like the most likely outcome of this will be, at the very least, an enlargement of the words “and the” in the Iron And The Maiden logo. Whcich, regardless of what their initial legal claim be, is probably all the band really want, assuming they’re reasonable people (which nothing I’m aware of in their careers would contradict).

* SHOCKINGLY, the fact that you thought they broke up has no legal implications! Or even any implications about their popularity outside your own home! INCREDIBLE, I KNOW! Also, I have seem Tool live and agree that they are a really fantastic band. I saw them WAY down the bill of a massive outdoor festival headlined by…

…Iron Maiden. Who pretty much blew them off the stage, incidentally.

The fact that an iron maiden is a medieval torture device is also beside the point.

“Amazon” is either the second-longest river in the world or a tribe of ancient warrior women. But good luck starting an internet business with the name Amazon today. You will get sued in a heartbeat.

Most trademarks ARE made up of preexisting words. So this case comes down to confusion in the marketplace, and it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Good to see all the internets lawyers out in full force.

Anthony: Your analogy is completely inappropriate. As others have stated, the product/type of business involved is incredibly important. Yes, if someone tried to start an web based business called “Amazon” there would be a problem. If I started a COMIC BOOK called “Amazon”, would easily lose a case challenging my right to use the name. Assuming I could afford to fight the legal battle, which I likely couldn’t.

Legally you don’t get to claim a trademark on a commonly used term and derivatives thereof across all businesses.

A-newton: Tell that to Coca-Cola.

Iron Maiden (the band) will just argue that this will make it difficult to market their own comic book, video game, etc. in the future and they have a case. They can even point to the KISS comic as evidence of rock bands crossing over.

My point was the Aspen spokesperson’s comment was just silly and superfluous. If this case makes it to court (big, big if), it will come down to whether there is likelihood of confusion. Not whether the term “iron maiden” predates the band Iron Maiden. Duh, of course it does. If that’s their best defense, they need to get new lawyers.

(I don’t think there’s much likelihood of confusion, btw, but that’s me. At least a few posters above seem to think there might be. And I don’t think their logo design helps. But this is why we have courts.)

this is another rock band that needs to be shown they were not God and they are not God.. I have read one of the books and the name is no where and I mean no where close to the name of the band, it is a good story I would hate to see it die, because of some bands ethic’s in thinking they have that name and no one else can use it

Again, your analogy fails… Coca-cola is a brand name constructed solely for that brand. It has recognition solely as the mark of the Coca-cola product and the Coca-cola company. Iron Maiden does not. Amazon does not. Yes, this matters in defending a trademark, as it contributes heavily to the “Product Confusion” issue, as does the market for which the mark is being used. Of COURSE the term predating the band will not be will not be the ONLY argument used by the lawyers. In your very eloquent word, “Duh.” It’s an important piece of the rebuttal, but it is only a piece.

Iron Maiden can ARGUE that it will make it difficult for their own comic all they want. They might even be right. But that doesn’t matter. It MIGHT make a difference if they’ve published an Iron Maiden comic before. Have they? I dunno, but the fact that such a thing hasn’t even been suggested here, would also play into the “product confusion” argument even if it has since no one seems to remember it. The fact that they used the term “Iron Maiden” in business does not grant them over riding rights to use it or derivations of it across other industries.

Chances are this will be settled out of the courts – the most Aspen should have to do is alter the logo slightly so the words “and the” are more prominent. Even that, though, doesn’t make the band’s claim any less silly.

Coca-Cola “is a brand name constructed solely for that brand.” This is simply true for any trademark. Are you saying Coca-Cola is a purely made up word? Because it isn’t … it’s made up of two pre-existing words “coca” (the coca leaf, because, true story, it used to have cocaine in it) and “cola” (from the kola nut). Aside from the Xeroxes and Exxons of the world, most trademarks come from our shared language and culture.

The truth is, Coca-Cola has successfully held onto its trademark by vigorously going after people for a century. They even have trade dress protection on the shape of their bottle! This is the only reason “it has recognition solely as the mark of coca-cola product.” It certainly wasn’t a worldwide brand back in 1886.

The second part of your comment just isn’t the law in this country. Trademark dilution explicitly protects famous marks from being used in non-competing industries. Iron Maiden (the band) will have to argue it’s worthy of such protection (I don’t think it is) but again, this is why we have courts.

Russell Williams

May 7, 2009 at 8:35 am

My first two thoughts when this book hit the stands:

1. Cool!

2. I wonder if the band ‘Iron Maiden’ is pissed?

Russell Williams

May 7, 2009 at 8:37 am

I wonder if a hit comic called:

‘Arrow and the Smith’ would gather legal attention?


Hm, well while I am not a metal fan, when I first saw this comic advertised I pretty much instantly thought of the band Iron Maiden.

Well I’m a huge Iron Maiden fan and when this book came out out quickly snatched up everything related to it thinking it was somehow related to my fave band only to find out later that it wasn’t! And by the time the band’s next album came out I had already spent all my money on the comics and related merchandise and couldn’t afford to buy the latest greatest audio opus by my living heroes! Whoa is me oh earth and sea!

Actually, the fact that an iron maiden is a medieval torture device that pre-dates both rock and roll and comic books does little to invalidate the band’s trademark claim. If you buy that logic, then brand names from Apple Computers to Tide Detergent are invalid because their names refer to natural phenomenon which certainly pre-date the products that they are trademarked for.

What may get the comic off the hook is the fact that the comic exists in a different format (i.e. – books/comics) than the band (music). One of the posters above hit on this when comparing Whoppers candy with the Burger King burger known as the Whopper. However, the fact that there is some history of bands within this very genre (metal) crossing over into comics (Kiss certainly comes to mind) may actual give Iron Maiden’s claim some legal traction – it’s reasonable to envision how a fan of the band may actual think the comic is associated with the band given the history of metal bands dabbling in the comic industrty. I think it can also be argued that metal fans are often comic fans as well, which could contribute to the band’s argument that this constitutes a bona fide case of trademark infringement.

Could be wrong. Just my thoughts.

Anthony: No, it is NOT true for any trademark. “Iron Maiden” is NOT constructed solely as a mark of trade. You’ve already acknowleged pre-existance of the term “iron maiden”, and I’ll come back to that in a moment. While the parts of the mark “Coca-Cola” are formed from individual words which are otherwise known in our language, the term “Coca-Cola” is NOT and WAS NOT.

Defending marks is part of retaining the right to the mark. Of COURSE they have defended it… you HAVE to if you want to keep it. That doesn’t change the fact the the mark “Coca-Cola” was not an existing term before it was created for use as the company’s mark.

Now, on the subject of Trademark Dilution – dilution is a law used to protect a mark from use in other industries in order to prevent that mark from losing identification with a single source. To qualify for protection under the trademark dilution law, the mark must be so strong that the name is uniquely identified with a certain product, service, business, etc. Ordinary words in language (i.e. pre-existing terms such as “Iron Maiden”) and surnames do not qualify for dilution protection. LEGO, Kool-aid, Xerox, Chevrolet, these are the types of trademarks that qualify for protection from dilution.

No matter how you cut it, the fact that the term “iron maiden” pre-dates the band by hundreds of years is completely material to the case.

The argument isn’t that the pre-existance of the iron maiden invalidates their trademark claim, it’s that it demonstrates how incredibly weak their claim to the mark across industries is.

You mention Apple Computers. Apple, Inc (computer maker) and Apple Publishing (often called Apple Music) had a trademark fight over the word Apple. The resolution of that Trademark dispute centered around Apple Computers staying out of the music business. Which goes back to what we’ve been saying about marks crossing industries. It’s the same situation with the word Whopper that you discuss in your post.

And of course, when Apple Computers got into the music business, that fight started up again, as well it should have. I’m not sure how that case ended up, if it is even yet resolved.

Fortunately for the publisher, much of establishing a trademark in publishing comes down to actually PUBLISHING material using the mark. The fact that other bands have published comics does little to help Iron Maiden’s claim to the mark on a comic book.

Perry said:

“Popeye the Sailor also has no relation to Popeye’s Chicken. ”

Obviously. Chicken is what what real people eat. Popeye eats spinach.

I recommend reading the complaint (or at least skimming it):

Page 10 gives insight as to why the band most likely decided to sue.

Kevin Melrose

May 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Thanks for the link, John.

comic book psychic – the band will change the logo so it looks like it says iron and the maiden and not iron maiden. the end.

of course i meant the comic will have the logo change, not the band. silly jabbers.

Get real. Iron Maiden is just probably trying to get some publicity. Geeze…

Cassandrah, I believe you may be underestimating the global popularity of Iron Maiden. They were one of the top UK artists of 2008 (alongside the Police, Coldplay, Elton John and others). They have sold between 65-80 million albums worldwide.

From BBC news (April 6, 2009):
“The money made by UK artists overseas increased by £20m last year, the organisation that collects and pays their royalties has said. It said international tours by big UK acts including The Police and Iron Maiden had boosted income.”

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