Iron Maiden Torturing Trademark Law?

from the puns-are-torture dept

Reader Fletch writes in to let us know that the band Iron Maiden is suing the creators of a comic book called Iron and the Maiden for trademark infringement. The creators of the comic book claim the name is a reference to the old torture device, not the band (and perhaps the band owes some royalties to the torture device as well…). Still, it will probably come down to a question of whether or not comic book buyers would likely be confused — and seeing as the logos of the band and the comic book appear to be entirely different… it’s not clear who would be confused.


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Comments on “Iron Maiden Torturing Trademark Law?”

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PaulT (profile) says:

To be fair, the title of the comic really does look like “Iron Maiden”. If it had the words “and the” in type you could see without squinting, maybe the complaint would be frivolous but I’m not sure here.

Although the logos are very different, given the band’s traditional use of comic-style artwork it’s not hard to believe that a casual browser could see the artwork and pick the comic book up thinking it’s a band tie-in. Passes the moron-in-a-hurry test if you ask me.

Headbhang says:

Re: Moron in a hurry

I hate the overzealous application of trademark/copyright/IP/etc as much as anyone in this blog, but I feel I must second PaulT in this case…

The “and the” part in the logo is positively tiny, such that it does indeed seem like it simply says “Iron Maiden” (which by now I’d daresay is more associated to heavy metal than medieval torture in the mind of people).
Iron Maiden’s artwork usually includes the skeletal mascot Eddie somewhere in it, which the comic book presumably doesn’t, but if you look at the covers they look typically straight out of a comic book.

A moron might not be confused; a person in a hurry probably neither; but a moron in a hurry very likely would presume a connection of sorts.

Personally, I would have let it pass, no real harm done, free publicity and all, but it surely doesn’t reach the levels of inanity we have seen from other cases here on TechDirt.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Moron in a hurry

Yeah, I don’t really think there’s any harm done nor any malice/profiteering involved by the makers of the comic. But, it’s at least logically possible that confusion could happen, and isn’t trademark law the one where you have to enforce lest you lose it?

It’s a silly lawsuit by many standards, but nowhere near as frivolous or stupid as many of them.

Willton says:

Re: Gee...

Does this mean AC/DC gets to sue for every AC/DC Multimeter out there?

Only if the multimeter advertises itself with a mark that is confusingly similar to the AC/DC logo.

And any true Maiden fans can spot the correct Iron Maiden logo from a distance. Iron Maiden have never changed their font, or colors, except in rare one-offs.

That doesn’t matter. The likelihood-of-confusion test does not take the perspective of an Iron Maiden fan; it takes the perspective of the casual consumer.

Anonymous Coward says:

I find it humorous that all these “badass” bands from the 80s like Metallica and Iron Maiden turn out to be little girls hiding behind their big, tough lawyers.

How can someone can take a name that has been around for over 100 years make it theirs and then sue anyone who uses it? Can I make a band called sunshine and sue anyone who then uses that word?

MrMynor says:

Realistically, this is just going to come down to the value to the comic book publisher of avoiding the costs of litigating the issue. It is well established that where the alleged infringing use of a mark occurs in the title of an artistic work, the first amendment demands greater protection than the law of trademark would otherwise provide. As long as the comic book publisher can show that the title has some artistic relevance to the underlying work, the use will not be said to infringe.

Coupled with the obvious weakness of the case even under the traditional “likelihood of confusion” analysis, neither Iron Maiden nor their legal advisors can seriously believe that they stand any substantial chance of recovering money damages here if they go to trial. This move appears to me to simply be an attempt to strong arm a settlement.

Bob (user link) says:

The logos bear no resemblance to one another. It’s pretty common for conjunctions and articles to be smaller in logos.

The font and color are also different.

I’m all for the protection of trademark, but I think its important that entire words or even phrases in the public consciousness don’t become personal property.

I mean, would anyone who makes a product using apples be able to have the word ‘Apple’ and a picture of one ever again?

COD (profile) says:

I am an Iron Maiden fan, and when you consider that the intersection of metal fans and comic book fans might be significant, I can see how this fails the moron in a hurry test. Given the literary influences in his song writing, it’s not at all unreasonable to believe that Bruce Dickinson would write a graphic novel, and the logo on the comic book could definitely be be mistaken as related to the band on first glance.

Another AC says:

More old washed up bands trying to squeeze every last cent out of work they did decades ago

An Iron Maiden is a torture device.

A band decides to name their band after a torture device, fine.

They create a recognizable logo using those words, fine.

They trademark said artwork, fine.

Trying to use trademark to limit someone elses ability to use words out of the dictionary, that does not use your artwork or pertain to a rock band is pathetic and I hope that washed up band ends up losing a bunch of cake on this.

Frosty840 says:

And who's to say...

And who’s to say that actual members of Iron Maiden wouldn’t release a story with that title? It seems to me that if a member of the band wanted to release a comic book that wasn’t related directly to the band, IatM would be a pretty decent compromise (note, I don’t think that this happened, I present it as a potential failure scenario of the MiaH test.)

It’s completely transparent that the title of the comic is intended to at least be an attention-grabbing hook to people who have at least heard of Iron Maiden, whether or not they are “mistaken” about any relationship they imagine between the book and the band.

What is questionable is whether the comic book creators owe money to the band that has made the title of their book memorable.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: And who's to say...

The band douse not have a comic out named Iron Maiden so they can’t claim trademark infringement on something that isn’t in their field. This is why Apple computers can’t sue the companies that actually sells apples by the same name and vise verse. This is why I could create a glass company called “Windows and Things” and not get sued by Microsoft.

It is not “completely transparent” that they called their comic “Iron and the Maiden” to leach off of the fame of the band “Iron Maiden”. It sounds to me like they used the name to refer to the device that the band originally leached off of.

Anonymous Coward says:

“It’s completely transparent that the title of the comic is intended to at least be an attention-grabbing hook to people who have at least heard of Iron Maiden”

I have to disagree with this. Although I can see the possibility of what you say I think more people have heard of the torture device vs. the band. Especially people under the age of 30.

VitaminCM (user link) says:

I hate to agree with overly litigious jerks, but...

I absolutely hate this type of frivolous lawsuit. However, this does seem like a fairly obvious attempt to capitalize on someone else’s trademark/logo.
A few points:
1. Comic book readers and people interested in or vaguely aware of very popular Metal bands do have a fair amount of overlap.
2. The point is not that the trademark holder (Iron Maiden) is necessarily hurt, rather that the infringing party (comic book)is unjustly benefiting by potentially confusing customers into thinking that there may be an affiliation.
3. The comic book producers could very simply rectify the situation by changing their logo/trademark to more clearly differentiate themselves from the band. They could also add a simple disclaimer on the cover stating that “they are in no way affiliated with Iron Maiden”
4. Iron Maiden is freakin’ awesome (Full Disclosure)

Let me repeat that I do hate this type of lawsuit. This one does just seem kind of fair.

knifight (profile) says:


As a comic book creator, I’m incensed by this story. Normally I think some of the regulars on techdirt are way too soft on protecting people’s work. But this lawsuit? is bullsh__. IMHO they could name the comic book IRON MAIDEN if they wanted to and should not get sued by the bands laywers unless the logos really looked the same (which they don’t) or they used eddie artwork (which they don’t) or they used music or imagery of the band (which they don’t). The band doesn’t freaking own the history of the device or the name of it. I actually like the band and the artwork on the covers and have for a long time, but wtf? This type of egregious over stepping of copyright law is why I’m starting to drink the kool-aid here on techdirt.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Derivative works are not evil

Even if it *was* a reference to the band, what is their problem? They themselves have made *numerous* songs based upon the works of SF authors.

Maybe they’re still pissed that Herbert wouldn’t give them ‘permission’ to call “To Tame a Land” “Dune” (as they originally had planned to) and they’re venting their pent-up rage against the copy/legal system by doing the exact same thing to this poor bastard.

Irony Fail, Bruce.

Ilfar says:

Does this mean I fail the moron test?

I think Iron Maiden have something here. If you put those two in front of me, I’d assume they were from the same source material in some form or another. I’m not an Iron Maiden fan though, so it’d more end up being that I wouldn’t bother buying the comic…

Got me thinking though – I think of music and comics as close enough media for this to have a chance. Going to have to sit down and wonder why that is…

Anonymous Coward says:

I tend to side with Maiden on this one. No the logos are not similar, but the comic book logo still just looks like “Iron Maiden” to me.

I’m a casual Maiden fan, so I don’t really know, but weren’t the works they based some songs on in the public domain? Rime of the Ancient Mariner? That’s pretty old, no?

Enrico Suarve says:

Fucks sake

I grew up with Iron Maiden – swapping tapes with mates buying bootleg T-Shirts and occasionally having enough pocket money to actually buy an album

I hope Eddie turns around, bites their heads off and spits down their necks for this (I claim copyright on the T-Shirt). The old Iron Maiden would have head butted their lawyers if they had even suggested this

Yes it looks like it says Iron Maiden but it didn’t even occur to me as a fan that it was linked to the band, since the font is completely different and there wasn’t a mullet in sight. York museum has adverts including an Iron Maiden – I never once thought they were performing there either

God it’s depressing when your childhood icons turn into dicks

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