Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Borders bankruptcy looms; ‘Mystery Men’ trademark issues?


Retailing | Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reports that Borders Group may file for bankruptcy protection as early as next week. Additionally the struggling book chain, the second-largest in the United States, will likely close at least 150 of its 500 remaining namesake stores. Company stock plunged in the wake of the news. A Borders spokeswoman declined comment, but referred to a Jan. 27 statement from President Mike Edwards in which he raised “the possibility of an in-court restructuring.” [Bloomberg]

Legal | Rich Johnston and retailer news and analysis site ICv2 look at potential trademark issues surrounding Marvel’s “Who Are the Mystery Men?” They note that cartoonist Bob Burden owns the trademark to the one-word “Mysterymen,” while Dark Horse and Universal Pictures control the two-word “Mystery Men” — both relating to the characters created by Burden and the 1999 movie adaptation. Dynamite Entertainment also has laid claim to “Super-Mysterymen” for its Project Superpowers series. “I have not heard from Universal yet, but I’m sure Universal will proceed in an orderly and propitious manner,” Burden said. [Bleeding Cool,]

Archie Comics

Legal | Archie Comics reportedly has reached an out-of-court settlement with the producers of the Indian film Boys Toh Boys Hain, which has been described as “based on the lines of the celebrated [Archie] comic book but set in Delhi instead of Riverdale.” As the result of a legal threat earlier this month, the producers have agreed to give credit to Archie Comics “during promotions in colleges and educational institutions.” [Hindustan Times]

Legal | Japanese publishing giant Kodansha Ltd. has warned Chinese search engine Baidu to remove the company’s manga and novels from its file-sharing service or face legal action. [The Japan Times]

Publishing | Ada Price runs down 2011’s major graphic novel releases. [Publishers Weekly]

Venom, by Tony Moore

Creators | Tony Moore reports that five pages of his original artwork from Marvel’s Venom #1 were stolen in transit to the inker. There are high-resolution scans, so production can continue, but Moore asks that art dealers and collectors keep an eye out for the original pages. [iFanboy]

Creators | Writer Fabian Nicieza is profiled by his local newspaper. [The Princeton Packet]

Creators | Stan Lee chats about his early career and his stint in the Signal Corps writing training films and creating visual training aids. [Under the Radar]

Comics | David Brothers explains why he dedicates every February to writing about black history and comics. Meanwhile, Black Superhero Fan looks at 1957’s Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, “the comic book that changed a nation.” [Comics Alliance]

Manga | Johanna Draper Carlson has an exclusive preview of NBM Publishing’s The Story of Lee. [Comics Worth Reading]



You know, after some of the things Marvel and DC have pulled while claiming to co-own the word “superhero”, it would serve them right if they were prevented for using “Mystery Men” without paying up.

I know it won’t happen (especially now that they have Disney money behind them) but it’d be nice.

Some of the things they’ve pulled? Last time I checked, Marvel and DC had a valid trademark on the word “superhero” that’s been in place for decades. Nothing more than a smart business practice on their end.

And certainly no worse than what everyone’s favorite company Apple does in terms of trademark enforcement.

Well to be fair, we don’t even know if that’s what the series will be called. It could be Mystery Comics or something like that. No one has violated anyone. Yet.

I thought trademarks expired after a while of disuse? Isn’t that the reason why Marvel forces a Captain Marvel series out every decade or so?
Not that I claim to actually know anything on the subject, just a bit of hearsay.

Marvel tried to bring back the Champions name in a team book, but had to change it (Matt Fraction’s The Order) because of a company still using the name. You would think they had someone do a copyright check before announcing these books. But, as stated, we don’t know that the book will be called Mystery Men.

In another site they point out to ‘Daring Mystery Comics’ as the possible title, due to a character in the cover, but that’s still a speculation, I don’t know if trademark issues apply to teasers or something like that.


Brian from Canada

February 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Regarding the advertisement, it’s not the title but the use of the phrase “mystery men” that’s going to raise issues. If you go back to the movie and the characters that inspired it, they’re “mystery men” because they’re unknown. Marvel’s use of the phrase could easily have been a violation of the trademark, even if they were thinking they were using a more general phrase.

I guess the robbers think that Eddie Brock should be the only Venom, too.

To those suggesting Marvel was just using “mystery men” as a generic term, check that Bleeding Cool link — they filed for a trademark in August ’09.

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