Sacramento Intellectual Property Law Blog

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California-based DC Comics has been publishing comic books and graphic novels featuring the character Wonder Woman for over 70 years. In the interest of protecting its intellectual property, the company has issued a cease-and-desist order against a New York-based bookstore that commissioned comic book cover art that depicts one of the state’s congresswomen in the role. The order also applies to the rival comic book company that published comics featuring the controversial cover art. 

The point of contention is a cover issued as part of a comics series satirizing political figures in Congress. The cover art of the two other issues in the series so far is uncontroversial, but DC objected to one that depicted the freshman congresswoman in the iconic costume of Wonder Woman, complete with her trademark headband. Being protective of its stable of superheroes, DC issued a cease-and-desist order to both the publisher and the bookstore.

The cease-and-desist order requires the bookstore and the publisher to destroy unsold copies of the issue bearing the offending cover and recall the rest for return. However, the order came too late to halt the publication an initial limited run of 250 copies, which had already found their way into the hands of consumers at the time the order went into effect. These 250 issues have already become collector’s items due to their scarcity, and some are selling on eBay for approximately 30 times the original purchase price. 

It is unknown whether either the bookstore or the rival comic book publisher intends to challenge DC’s cease-and-desist order. Copyright law is complicated, and intellectual property owners who believe copyright infringement has taken place could benefit from hiring an attorney to explain the applicable laws and help take appropriate action.

 

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