With the new film, “Man of Steel,” due to be released in mid-June, DC Comics and Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. are busy protecting the Superman trademark around the world. Last week an Australian court ruled in favor of DC Comics when it rejected a fitness company’s bid to register a “Superman Workout” trademark.
The Australian Registrar of Trade Marks had previously allowed a trademark registration for “Superman Workout” from a company called Cheqout Pty Ltd in July 2012. At that time, the Registrar stated that there would be no confusion between the workout name and DC Comics’ Superman since DC Comics had never conducted fitness classes. DC Comics appealed, claiming that the Superman Workout would be ”likely to deceive or cause confusion” since Superman had ”acquired a reputation” in Australia.
Last week’s Federal Court of Australia’s rejection of the trademark registration stated that Cheqout had applied for the trademark in “bad faith” and clearly intended to reference the DC Comics character, particularly since it used the image of a Superman-like shield and the colors red, white, and blue. In her ruling, Justice Annabelle Bennett considered different meanings of the word “superman” and referenced several dictionary definitions, including the Macquarie Dictionary (“Australia’s National Dictionary”), which references Nietzsche’s “ideal human being who by virtue of greater spiritual powers rises above the usual notions of good and evil.” She also referenced the Oxford English Dictionary which describes Superman as ”an almost invincible superhero having the power to fly and typically depicted wearing a tight blue suit with a red cape.”
Judge Bennett concluded: ”I am satisfied that at the date of application for the trademark, Cheqout’s conduct fell short of the standards of acceptable commercial behaviour observed by reasonable and experienced persons.”
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