22 March 2006

Is It a Crime?

Here's a question for all ya'll out there who do white collar and work above my pay grade: Lets assume that two companies who dominate an industry (lets say Marvel and DC Comics) decide to collude to trademark a generic term which neither of them created (oh, say like the word "superhero") and which is not specifically brand related to either company (as opposed to Marvel's use of "X Mutants" or DC's use of the term "Metahumans"). Now lets say that the two dominant companies start threatening legal action against smaller companies who dare to use the generic term.

Is this a crime? Keep in mind, trying to make a good faith claim that the generic term "belongs" to the two (supposedly) competing companies doesn't even pass the red-face test. And, if it is a crime, what actions can be taken?

Question inspired by DC and Marvel actually trying to forbid anyone else from using the term superhero.

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