Stan Lee versus Joe Weider...To The Death!
In August 1967, buoyed by the success that their comic books were experiencing Marvel began to look towards the future, namely separate titles for the likes of Captain America, Iron man, the Sub-Mariner, Thor and The Hulk, all of whom were being published in anthology comic books such as Journey Into Mystery, Tales Of Suspense and Tales To Astonish. The process involved ensuring that each separate character was duly registered at the trademark office for name, title, design and character. However the path to such titles are not always paved with ease, even if they do have good intentions, and whereas Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Namor were fairly easy to trademark, Captain America wasn't. After being a hit for Timely Comics (the early name for Marvel) in the 1940s, by the 1950s the character, along with virtually all superhero comics and characters, was dead in the water. In the meantime someone else had come along and scooped up the name 'America' for their own use. Imagine that!
Their first, minor, error was filing for the name Captain American. That was an easy error to remedy, but the second error was potentially lethal - Marvel had allowed the trademark to lapse from the 1950s, which lead to Weider filing suit. According to the first documents filed, Marvel stated that the character design and costume had been in use since February 2nd, 1967, but had first been used, "...in a different form at least as early as December 1943." This oversight nearly cost Marvel dearly as Joe Weider filed an opposition to the registration of the name (shortly after Joe Simon would also file for the character itself - he failed), and it was quickly corrected to the proper date of December 1940 in a subsequent statement signed by Martin Goodman immediately prior to Marvel dealing with Weider. Unlike a normal court, the trademark process works on both sides attempting to solve their issues alone, and that's exactly what happened here. Marvel were encouraged to contact Weider to reach an amicable solution and that's exactly what happened. The solution, agreed upon in a phone call, would see Marvel use the name Captain America only for comic books and not for muscle magazines, let alone any other magazine, and Weider wouldn't produce any comic books (not that he'd ever done so before) using the name Mr. America. Thus pacified Marvel continued with their copyright filings and were eventually granted the trademark to Captain America and the world went on as normal. Or did it?
|The final statement, with the amended date of December 1940 as the first time the trademarked name was used|
|Detail from the initial statement showing the incorrect date of December 1943|
|Lou Ferringo, Joe Weider, Arnold Schwarzenegger - Hulk meets Conan. That's two of your five per day right there.|
|Weider's Charles Atlas ad|
|Some of Weider's many Marvel Comics ads|
|Just men being men in a manly manner...|