Marvel Comics, like many businesses in creative industries, relies heavily
on trademarks and licensing to generate revenue. As evident from the popularity of Marvel-licensed films – X-Men, Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Blade, etc. – it’s clearly working for them.
The company – also known as Marvel Publishing, which is part of Marvel Entertainment, which since December 2009 is part of Disney – has registered some interesting trademarks in its time.
Super Hero and Super Heroes are both Marvel trademarks, as is the less commonly used Super Villains. From 1975 to 1996, Marvel also owned a publishing trademark for the word Zombie. Perhaps understanding that this trademark wasn’t enforceable, in 1996 they registered Marvel Zombies, which states in the registration document, “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use zombies“.
According to the ever-dubious Wikipedia, Marvel Comics also own trademarks on two sounds that their characters make: the “thwip!” of Spider-Man’s web shooters, and the “snikt!” of Wolverine’s claws. Our searches of the US Trademark database have yet to uncover proof of these claims, however, and no citation is provided on the Wikipedia page.
Photograph under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Sam Howzit