Batty Trademark Dispute

from the pow!-blam!-trademark! dept

Not quite sure what to make of this one, but the Consumerist alerts us to a bit of a trademark dispute between DC Comics and a small BBQ restaurant called BATS. Apparently, the restaurant’s name comes from the names of its owners, “Beau And TraviS’ restaurant,” and they designed the following logo:

Now, that clearly does have some similarities to the Batman logo, even though they insist “Our bat is not their bat.” In fact, they’re correct that the bats are not the same. As someone in the comments on the Consumerist post notes, the actual Batman logos, which have morphed over time, are ever so slightly different from this logo:

But, of course, that doesn’t matter. All that really matters is if there’s a likelihood of confusion in areas for which DC has the trademark or (potentially) if DC can make a case of dilution. Given how many people see the logo and pretty much immediately think “Batman,” DC probably can make a strong “likelihood of confusion” case. The restaurant owners are apprently fighting DC, specifically by suggesting that DC’s trademarks on Batman don’t extend into the restaurant space, but that does seem like it might be a difficult sell. At best, it’s a total crap shoot based on the judge — and given the cost of fighting a trademark battle over such a logo, this is one where it actually seems like it could make more sense to just change the logo.

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Companies: bats, dc comics

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Comments on “Batty Trademark Dispute”

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24 Comments
Rob Bodine (profile) says:

Confusion

How could anyone seriously confuse the restaurant logo with DC Comic’s logo? The restaurant logo isn’t just an outline of a bat. It also includes words demonstrating that this is a BBQ restaurant. It’s a completely different industry. Now I admit that having the same words and replacing the bat symbol with, for example, the detailed New England Patriots symbol could be problematic, but the bat outline is far too simple a design to allow all permutations of it to go to the hands of a single trademark holder in a single industry.

Urza9814 says:

Re: Looks like Batman to me

Huh? Their logo looks like a simplified bat silhouette….

http://www.infovisual.info/02/064_en.html

Convert that bat diagram into a silhouette, remove the hands and feet, and what do you get?

http://personal.psu.edu/bsf5033/blackbat.jpg

Gee, pretty much looks exactly like their logo. Just with slightly bigger ears. But then, simplify it a bit more – draw two lines straight down from the ears – and it looks _exactly the same_ as the restaurant’s logo. A marginally simplified picture of something shouldn’t be trademark infringement.

Patrik (user link) says:

Re: Re:

That’s why it looks so familiar! You’re right, it definitely resembles the Bacardi logo. We’ve been spending too much time staring at the “call” shelf, apparently.

Damn! Louisiana Style BBQ? Sign me up. DC Comics were always lame, anyway. Why don’t Beau and Travis just retcon to prove that their restaurant did in fact exist BEFORE Batman was created… at least in some universe. DC Comics knows *all* about that kind of logic. Hell go ahead and offer a ‘Marvel No-Prize’ to someone who could write that retcon, that would *really* stick it to DC.

/geek

Mojo says:

While I agree that the bat sillouette graphic is so vague it should NOT be subject to copyright, I also think it’s VERY likely that these folks did that logo with the full intention of “paying homage” to Batman.

I mean let’s face it, it’s kinda hard for most people to see that logo and NOT think of Batman. I think it very unlikely that the restaurant owners did not see the similarity until the lawyers showed up…

R. Miles (profile) says:

I can understand the dilution of a trademark issue, but this is clearly an outline of a bat, not a bat man.

Even DC has modified its logo (nice addition of the video, btw) over the years which means even they can’t keep a specific design without re-branding the franchise, unlike the Superman “S”, for example.

Clearly DC is in the wrong here. There’s much more to the Batman franchise than the logo, which they’ve also trademarked.

Of course, with comic book sales in the toilet now, DC has to make money somehow. /eyeroll

JustMe (profile) says:

MMM good

I see the picture and the name of the restaurant and I think they are making BBQ Bat (not that there is anything wrong with that). I do not think of DC comics.

I’m annoyed that DC appears to that *nobody* can use the outline of a bat because of their crappy franchise because that doesn’t seem right. I went to their website to register a complain but the DC Contact Us page only has mailto: links for money making opportunities. Instead, I’ll vote with my wallet and no longer see a DC franchise movie, or buy toys or comic bo\ graphic novels. Sorry DC, you’ve lost a potential customer thanks to your lawyers.

Phil says:

The Likelihood of Confusion . . . about what a trademark is for.

Sigh…
Your remarks regarding the “likelihood of confusion” reminded me how frustrating it is to read the public comments that follow main-stream media stories which happen involve trademark issues. (such as the recent “light-saber” laser and the current IHOP church) It is apparent that many in the general public have totally bought into the idea that the law allows you to exclusively own a word, an idea or the general appearance of an image. The fact that trademark is supposed to be about confusion in the marketplace is unknown to some people.

Once again, it must be said that the use of the term “intellectual property” is responsible for a lot of this confusion in the public discourse, because people have the common-sense conception that if you “own” something then you should have the full and exclusive right to determine precisely how, and if it is to be used.
It is if owning a trademark were no different than owning a car.
Most unfortunately, I believe this is exactly how IP maximalists believe the law “should” read . . .
The hell with how the law actually does read.

Ben says:

@ R.Miles
“Even DC has modified its logo (nice addition of the video, btw) over the years which means even they can’t keep a specific design without re-branding the franchise, unlike the Superman “S”, for example.”

You’d be supprised how much the Superman S has changed over the years

Original
http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/wysiwyg/image/Superman_Shield_Golden_Age.jpg

Compared to now.
http://www.louderthanwordsbooks.com/marni/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Anonymous-Superman-Logo-15837.jpg

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