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A federal judge last week rejected a bid by HarperCollins to dismiss claims by comics creator Jazan Wild that the title of Melissa Marr’s new fantasy novel Carnival of Souls infringes on his trademark.
Law360 reports that in denying the motion, U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton Tucker disagreed with the publisher’s assertion that the trademark was invalid because it applied to the title of a single comic, finding that Wild (aka Jason Barnes) had demonstrated his Carnival of Souls is a series.
The judge also didn’t buy HarperCollins’ argument that the title of Marr’s book is protected by the First Amendment, pointing to Wild’s claim that the publisher “deliberately chose a confusingly similar title for its competing book in the same genre.” That allegation raises what Tucker deemed is “a factual question as to whether [Marr's] book is likely to confuse consumers as to the origin of its source. The court cannot determine, as a matter of law, that it does not.”
Jazan Wild, the comics creator who gained attention in 2010 when he sued NBC and the producers of Heroes for $60 million, has begun sending cease-and-desist notices to reviewers who publish excerpts from Melissa Marr’s new young-adult fantasy novel Carnival of Souls, claiming the title violates his trademark.
Children’s literature website Bookalicious today posted an email from Wild, aka Jason Barnes, insisting that a recent excerpt of Marr’s book amounts to a “willful and malicious infringement” of his “Carnival of Souls” trademark and demanding its removal.
Wild’s objection follows a trademark-infringement lawsuit he filed in July against HarperCollins, accusing the publisher of intentionally using the title Carnival of Souls and the phrase “Enter the Carnival” in an effort to create confusion between Marr’s novel and his own 2005-2006 comic series and related works. He’s asking a federal court to prevent HarperCollins from using the title, and seeking the destruction of all of the allegedly infringing books and promotional materials, as well as unspecified damages. In court documents, Wild’s lawyer recounts his client’s repeated attempts to head off the release of Marr’s book as Carnival of Souls, which were ultimately dismissed with HarperCollins’ trademark counsel allegedly saying, “You’re not an attorney, are you?”
It’s worth noting that Wild’s legal dispute is with HarperCollins, so it’s unclear why his cease-and-desist notice is directed at book reviewers. More baffling, however, is how in Wild’s estimation an excerpt from Marr’s novel (whose copyright is held by Marr) infringes on his “Carnival of Souls” trademark; his objection is with the title, not the text.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Today we’re looking at one of the comics medium’s most restless and interesting inventors and theorists — and a pretty compelling storyteller to boot — Scott McCloud.
BOOM! Studios is now distributing Avatar Press graphic novels to the book trade in North America through their mass-market partners Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Canada. The agreement began on Monday.
In a press release distributed late last night, BOOM! founder/CEO Ross Richie said the Avatar library complimented BOOM!’s existing line and wouldn’t cannibalize BOOM!’s various imprints. “Avatars’ CEO William Christensen is a brilliant businessman and has a proven track record of great Direct Market success. Avatar has great growth potential in the mass market book trade, and we look forward to being an excellent partner in their continued expansion,” Richie said.
Up until this week, Avatar’s books were distributed through Diamond Book Distributors. BOOM! began using Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Canada in July 2009. You can find the complete press release after the jump.