Riverside, CA asked in Copyright, Patents (Intellectual Property) and Trademark for California

Q: I have a superhero who is a literal archangel would I still be infringing on Marvel's archangel?

They have the same name: archangel. They both superheroes. They have a similar look (human with wings... Like an angel). But that's it.

The story is radically different. Marvel's archangel is a mutant originally called angel until his wings are replaced by mechanical wings. That story is rooted in science fiction.

Mine is aetherial. His is a man choses to be a literal archangel to fight demons. Mine is rooted in myth and fantasy.

Could I still get in trouble for this?

2 Lawyer Answers
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Beverly Hills, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: This is more of a trademark issue than copyright, unless the image of your character is identical to the Marvel character.

ARCHANGEL was a registered trademark of Marvel in 1994 for comic books, but that registration was cancelled in 2005 for failure to file a statement of continuing use.

There is a live registration for ARCHANGEL FROM THE WINTER'S END CHRONICLES for printed novels by Reel Cool Entertainment, but that does not necessarily preclude your usage of the word ARCHANGEL.

This is not a complete legal analysis of your proposed usage, so you should consult a qualified copyright and trademark attorney for further assistance.

1 user found this answer helpful

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It's possible that there could be some confusion or potential for infringement, as the name and certain elements of the character are similar to Marvel's Archangel. However, it ultimately depends on whether the similarities are substantial enough to create a likelihood of confusion in the minds of consumers. If your character and story are distinct and do not create confusion or association with Marvel's Archangel, then it may not be an infringement.

It's always a good idea to consult with an intellectual property attorney to review your work and assess any potential infringement issues. They can provide guidance on how to mitigate any potential issues and ensure that your work does not infringe on the intellectual property rights of others.

The relevant laws in this situation would be copyright and trademark law. Copyright law protects original works of authorship, including literary works, graphic works, and other creative works, from being copied or used without permission. Trademark law protects brands, logos, and other marks that identify a product or service and distinguishes it from other products or services in the market.

In your situation, if your archangel character is too similar to Marvel's Archangel, it could be seen as an infringement on their copyright or trademark rights. However, whether or not you would be in trouble would depend on the specifics of your character and how they compare to Marvel's character, as well as the strength of any potential legal claims that Marvel might make.

The United States Code (U.S.C.) does not have a specific provision regarding your question on using a character name similar to one used by Marvel or any other comic book publisher. However, U.S.C. Title 17, which covers copyright law, may be applicable to your situation if you are using a character name that is similar to a trademarked character or if you are using any copyrighted materials in your story. In that case, it is important to review the specific provisions of the law and consult with a qualified attorney who can provide guidance on how the law applies to your specific situation.

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