The Champions = The Order


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From Newsarama:


According to a Marvel source, The Champions is now The Order. And not one legal punch was thrown.

This is, of course, in regards to the new ongoing series launching in July by Matt Fraction and Barry Kitson, starring the Los Angeles, CA-based heroes of The Fifty State Initiative. Newsarama first broke the news of a controversy surrounding the use of the name in April, as Heroic Publishing’s Dennis Mallonee explained that Marvel did not, in fact, own the trademark to “The Champions,” Heroic did.

“Marvel did seek and was granted registration of the trademark it was using for that title,” Mallonee told Newsarama in April. “That registration, however, was not granted until several months after the title had ceased publication. In the mid-80s, on the basis of that registration, Marvel contested registration of the mark Hero Games was using at that time for its Champions role-playing game. The trademark board took notice of Marvel's abandonment of their earlier mark, and cancelled that registration. In the mid-90's, although Marvel had never resumed publication of their Champions comic book, Marvel tried again to register their mark. Once again, their mark was declared abandoned.

“Heroic Publishing, on the other hand, has since mid-1987 been using Champions as a trademark in connection with Heroic's small line of superhero comic books, and fully intends to continue to use it,” Mallonee continued. “Having resumed publication of their Champions comic book in 2005, Heroic Publishing filed for registration in May of 2006. The patent and trademark office agreed that Heroic's claim to that mark was both legitimate and eligible for registration. The mark was published for opposition. No opposition was received. Accordingly, Heroic's Champions trademark has been registered.”

According to Mallonee, the “elephant and the ant” claim doesn’t work. That is, Heroic isn’t so small as to not be noticed by Marvel.

“Marvel is not unaware of the existence of Heroic Publishing's Champions trademark,” Mallonee said. “Late last year, when Marvel published a trade paperback collection of stories from their Champions series from the mid-70's, Heroic sent Marvel's legal office a letter advising them that their use of the term “Champions” as a trademark for a comic-book-related product constituted an infringement on Heroic Publishing's existing trademark, and asking them to cease that infringement.

“With Marvel's announcement of their own new Champions series, this now becomes a most curious thing. Marvel could have chosen to offer opposition to the registration of Heroic Publishing's trademark. Marvel chose not to offer opposition. Instead, Marvel has announced publication of a comic book title that in light of the advisory sent to them last year may well constitute a willful and deliberate infringement on Heroic Publishing's registered trademark.

“Heroic Publishing's hope is that Marvel will begin acting in good faith, reconsider what they're doing, and come to some amicable agreement that will resolve this matter to the benefit of both parties.”

Marvel declined to comment on the matter in April, although sources report that the issue, which was doubted at first, was quickly taken seriously, and as a result, the solicitation for the series’ first issue on was changed to read:

THE ____________ introduces the all-new and Los Angeles-based crown jewel in Tony Stark’s FIFTY-STATE INITIATIVE. A team of Stark-branded and created super heroes, these young actors, athletes and models are infused with tremendous powers and even more tremendous fame, reborn as the First Super Hero Team of Tomorrow™ -- THE ____________. Here the same ol'-same ol' means hooking up at the Standard, drinks at SkyBar and a death-duel on Sunset Blvd. against some villain too stupid to realize that, in Hollywood, the good guys always win. The catch: you can be fired at any point along the way. And every inch of your life will be subjected to intense public scrutiny. And if you survive all that for a whole year, you'll face mandatory retirement. And there's no guarantee you'll live to see that retirement. If you had one year to save the world, what would you do?

And while the website referred to the series as “The Champions” with the solicitation of issue #2, the printed solicitation for the issue lists the title as “Series Title to be Announced.”

But that’s all behind the company now, as the series, which was to share the name of a series from the 1970s, now shares its name with a miniseries from 2002, written by Jo Duffy and Kurt Busiek. According to a source, several names were bandied about (including revivals of some fan favorites) once Marvel realized they did not own "The Champions," with The Order rising to the top of possibilities.

Regardless, the first issue is due in July.

Regardless of the title, I'm really looking forward to this comic book!

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They should have called it "Contest of Champions" since everybody is vying for their positions. That way they can call them The Champions within the context of the book and have a differently titled book to deal with copyright issues a la Shazam/Captain Marvel.

I'm going to skip this one and maybe come back for the trade. The Initiative stuff is already clouding my monthly pull list with a lot of Marvel. I need to pare down not keep picking new titles up.

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The problem with calling it Contest of Champions is that it gives off the impression that the heroes will always be fighting one another.

That is, essentially, the premise though right? They're fighting for their jobs. Put that on every catch-up page and boom you're done!

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The premise of the book is that these people have one year to be superheroes. If they fuck up, they're fired. Sure, there might be backstabbing and whatnot, but it's not a battle royal to see who'll make the team.

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