Should Superhero Superpowers Be Considered Property?

from the the-debate-is-on dept

We've had many, many debates around here over the question of whether or not "intellectual property" is actually property. So it seems like many of you might enjoy this article, sent in by johnjac, where some attorneys with way too much free time on their hands discuss whether or not superpowers possessed by super heroes should be considered property or not. I will give you just this short snippet as a taste, which I assume will make you rush over to read the whole thing:
If Superman uses the power of a blue sun to bestow superpowers on another person, is that a taxable asset transfer?  Who would want to try to collect?

If two superheroes marry, share a power, then later divorce, could one be forced to give up the power during the division of assets?  Does it matter who had the power originally?  Even though the shared power may be a non-rival good, one of the two superheroes may still have a claim to exclusivity.  Perhaps the power is a trademark ability of one character, or maybe they signed a superhero pre-nuptial agreement that determined the disposition of any shared abilities.

If one superhero lends a power to another (or to a normal person), does that superhero have an implied right to its return?  In other words, is a bailment created?  I think the answer here is yes.
Enjoy.

Filed Under: copyright, intellectual property, law, property, superheroes, superpowers


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  1. icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), 12 Dec 2010 @ 4:29am

    I thought this was going to be something different

    When I read the title of this article, I thought it was going to be something along the lines of the Superman case.

    The last that I heard was that DC Comics (Time Warner) retained the copyright on a portion of Superman's powers and that the creator's heirs retained the copyright on the rest of his powers. Which seems to be an incredibly difficult position for DC Comics when it comes to royalties.

    So it seems that in some cases superpowers can be considered IP.

    Im not sure if this means that moving forward media companies will try to copyright any new powers they come up with.

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