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Old 10-04-2023, 09:20 PM   #31
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Originally Posted by Irish Wolf View Post
They can, however, be trademarked. Maintaining a trademark involves something called "vigorous defense"; it's why Bayer lost the trademark to the name "Aspirin", and why Kimberly-Clark will sue anyone who calls their soft facial tissues "Kleenex". Usually, it's a good idea to avoid a superhero name that's being used by one of the major corporations, as they have the wherewithal to vigorously defend their trademark.
Its not so much names that can be trademarked as it is titles and advertising. Captain Marvel for example is a Marvel trademark. You can't publish a comic book entitled "Captain Marvel" or featuring that name on the cover. But DC could and did publish the adventures of another character named Captain Marvel, and did for quite some time until eventually they changed it to Shazam. As Shazam they can can put his name on the cover and sell Shazam merchandise.
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Old 10-04-2023, 10:46 PM   #32
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Its not so much names that can be trademarked as it is titles and advertising. Captain Marvel for example is a Marvel trademark. You can't publish a comic book entitled "Captain Marvel" or featuring that name on the cover. But DC could and did publish the adventures of another character named Captain Marvel, and did for quite some time until eventually they changed it to Shazam. As Shazam they can can put his name on the cover and sell Shazam merchandise.
In fact, Captain Marvel was originally a Fawcett character. DC purchased Fawcett in the early '60s, but hadn't done anything with the character for a while, so Marvel Comics jumped on that with their own Captain Marvel. DC brought back the Big Red Cheese in the '70s, and for a long time both companies published their own Captains Marvel. In 2012, DC changed Captain Marvel to Shazam, in part because they feared they might be losing sales to their competitor based on the name confusion. Also, it was difficult for them to enforce the trademark on the name while another character of the same name was active.
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Old 10-05-2023, 02:15 AM   #33
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Presumably, the mythology in Marvel's world(s) described Thor as having blond hair while Mjolnir was described as a short-handled maul with an oversized head, rather than our mythology which has him with red hair while Mjolnir looked something more like this. So the idea that the people call him Thor on account of him looking like the mythological description (because he was, in fact, the basis of said mythological description) makes sense in-setting - it just doesn't track quite as well in our world (or, rather, it didn't - I suspect rather more people think of Thor as blond than as a redhead these days, in no small part because of the success of the MCU).
At least in continuities 616 and 199999, yes.

Likewise, the Norse mythology of our continuity doesn't have an African-looking Heimdal... but Earth-199999 does.

And Marvel Loki doesn't appear to shapeshift, but Norse Loki does... And Thor Cross-dresses to recover Mjolnir from the Trolls... so Viking Mjolnir is only impossible for mortals to pick up...

To be fair to the authors, in the heyday of Thor as a comic super, most of the Sagas were not available in the US, and so the comic writers had to go on half-remembered tales form Nordic immigrants.

But the Marvel writers aren't the only ones to mangle the Norse mythology... John Wick does so to great effect in Orkworld. (the rules aren't great, but the setting is.) He basically uses the Sagas about the Norse Aesir as the skeletons of the tales of the 4 Orkish gods Basthraka (pretty much Thor), Keethdowmga All-mother, Pugg (very much Loki), and Gowthdukah the Silent (Odin, except that instead of sight, he sacrifices voice to learn the Runes). The stories are just close enough to recognize their Nordic roots...
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Old 10-05-2023, 04:23 AM   #34
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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In fact, Captain Marvel was originally a Fawcett character. DC purchased Fawcett in the early '60s, but hadn't done anything with the character for a while, so Marvel Comics jumped on that with their own Captain Marvel. DC brought back the Big Red Cheese in the '70s, and for a long time both companies published their own Captains Marvel. In 2012, DC changed Captain Marvel to Shazam, in part because they feared they might be losing sales to their competitor based on the name confusion. Also, it was difficult for them to enforce the trademark on the name while another character of the same name was active.
That's not exactly how things went. Since Captain Marvel hadn't been published since DC sued over the resemblance to Superman in 1953, its trademark had lapsed. A fly by night publisher took advantage of that lapse to publish it's own highly ridiculous Captain Marvel featuring an android who was fond of separating its limbs in the middle of fight. Marvel Comics management was highly embarassed to see a comic with "Marvel" on the cover that wasn't their's and such a bad one, so after the publisher died a speedy and ignominious death, Marvel quickly created Mar-Vell to secure the trademark for itself.

Several years later, since Fawcett was prohibited from publishing Captain Marvel by the lawsuit settlement terms, DC licensed the copyright for Captain Marvel. They could not trademark the big red cheese and could not publish a comic book titled "Captain Marvel". For a while they did have a blurb on the cover that said "The original Captain Marvel" but Marvel sent them a lawyerly letter and they stopped doing that. They could make a comic starring a Captain Marvel, but they couldn't put the name on the cover.

They didn't buy Captain Marvel's copyright outright until the 90s, by which time Marvel had killed Mar-Vell but but kept churning out replacement Captains Marvel to keep their grip on the trademark culminating in realizing that Carol Danvers was looking for a new name and they settled the title on her. Meanwhile DC decided to change their primary Billy Batson's nom de guerre to Shazam since at least they owned the trademark to that.

Of course while you can't copyright a name in isolation, it is a problem if you use the name of a copyrighted character for a highly similar character. I'd be OK with Miss Murder if I ever published her because DC's Miss Murder is a evil Miss Martian while my Miss Murder is a largely harmless criminal lookout and thief who can turn into her body weight in crows. They're clearly different characters.
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Old 10-05-2023, 08:26 AM   #35
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

You're confusing copyright and trademark. Copyright can be established by publishing something first, but is more narrowly defined and doesn't need to be defended; Disney holds the copyright on Mickey Mouse, meaning that no one else can make money using that particular character (but a different cartoon mouse is okay, even one that's clearly referencing the original - see Mickey Rat, in old underground comix).

Trademark applies to the specific appearance, name, and story of a particular character; Hyperion, in J. Michael Straczynski's Supreme Power, is clearly based on Superman, but avoids trademark violation because Mark was raised by the government and wears a different costume rather than having been raised by a kindly farm couple and wearing blue tights with a letter on the chest. Trademarks must be defended in court against anyone who violates them, lest the trademark be considered "abandoned" - this is what happened with Bayer Pharmeceutical's trademark on the name "Aspirin" for their salycilic acid tablets, which is why now literally anyone can market "generic aspirin". "Kleenex" was on its way to this fate, until the trademark holder (originally Scott Paper, iirc) started filing suits against other companies that called their own tissue-paper products "kleenex". It's become a generic term in common reference, but can't be used that way commercially.

Unfortunately, players of Champions Online have had to become conversant with this, as it's really easy to violate trademark but such a violation can draw unwanted attentions from the major comics publishers (a particularly unpleasant possibility since Marvel was acquired by Disney, whose trademark attorneys are infamous). One of the more common messages sent by players to devs in that game is a notification of someone else violating copyright, which tends to result in the violating character being "genericed" (which can mean having the name replaced by "BadName[number]", having the costume replaced by jeans and a plain T-shirt, both, or the character simply being locked on the system).

On a side note, that last fate can also apply to a character deemed "offensive", such as my own man-crow hybrid with the Pestilence power set, Corvid-19.
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Old 10-05-2023, 10:21 AM   #36
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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On a side note, that last fate can also apply to a character deemed "offensive", such as my own man-crow hybrid with the Pestilence power set, Corvid-19.
If this forum had an upvote feature, you'd get mine for this; that's a hilarious pun. I assume he was created as part of an experiment and was the 19th iteration of their man-crow hybridization?
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Old 10-05-2023, 10:56 AM   #37
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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.
... so Viking Mjolnir is only impossible for mortals to pick up...

.
It was mostly that it was too heavy for any other Aesir to pick up. Until Thor's son Magni came along.
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Old 10-05-2023, 12:26 PM   #38
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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If this forum had an upvote feature, you'd get mine for this; that's a hilarious pun. I assume he was created as part of an experiment and was the 19th iteration of their man-crow hybridization?
There were 20 in the production line. Most of them simply hung around the Rook doing nothing; 18 and 20 were moderately-useful villain henchmen; and 19 decided to go hero instead. Sadly, as far as the player base was concerned it turned out to be a case of "too soon".
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Old 10-05-2023, 02:29 PM   #39
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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There's some major exceptions to this principle. What else are you going to call "Spiderman"? There's that spider theme on his costume and he does whatever a spider can (except bite people and inject dissolving juice).

"
We don't know that Peter Parker doesn't have a venomous bite.
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Old 10-05-2023, 06:33 PM   #40
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Default Re: Characters from Superhero Games Who Need Better Names

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Trademark applies to the specific appearance, name, and story of a particular character; Hyperion, in J. Michael Straczynski's Supreme Power, is clearly based on Superman, but avoids trademark violation because Mark was raised by the government and wears a different costume rather than having been raised by a kindly farm couple and wearing blue tights with a letter on the chest. .
No the details of his origin story are covered by copyright, not trademark. Costume design (which I'll noted is also something that appears on the cover) is also something that can be trademarked.
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