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US comic book giants defeated by BPP Law School student over right to use the word ‘superhero’

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Goliath drops case against David

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A BPP law student turned serial entrepreneur has won a legal battle against publishing giants Marvel and DC for the right to use the word “superhero”, using just his trusty intellectual property law textbook.

Back in 2014, Graham Jules (pictured above) — who is a current business law undergrad at BPP in London — was on the verge of launching his first self-help business book entitled “Business Zero to Superhero”. Unfortunately, publishing had to be halted after Jules received legal threats from Marvel and DC Comics, who claimed that the title — and specifically the word “superhero” — infringed on their intellectual property.

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The New York-based publishers — who are usually fierce competitors within the comic book market — joined forced to jointly trademark the word “superhero” back in 1979.

In a classic David versus Goliath situation, Jules — without any professional legal representation — took on the publishers’ lawyers in a legal battle that has lasted almost three years. Incredibly, using just a single textbook about intellectual property law, Jules has emerged the victor, with Marvel and DC dropping the case just days before it was due to be heard at London’s Intellectual Property Office.

Jules — who is 48 and resides in Wood Green, north London — claims to have spent just £200 fighting the case, but has sacrificed over 200 hours of his own time, drafting legal letters to the publishers’ lawyers.

Speaking to Legal Cheek, Jules — who is due to graduate this summer and hopes to one day become a media lawyer — said:

The victory was a huge relief and made me feel just a little bit superhero like, after nearly three years of wrangling! I was advised by many to just change the title and it just goes to show what the ‘little guy’ can achieve with a little knowledge and persistence. I hope this result gives hope to all those who are in a similar situation.

Despite being offered “a couple of thousand pounds to change the title of the book” Jules — who has already fired off training contract applications to several City firms — remained strong, arguing that the word “superhero” had become a part of everyday language.

Both Marvel and DC cited “commercial reasons” for why they decided not to pursue the case.