DC Comics v Rihanna
Written by Thomas Mould on 01 June 2015« Return to Reading Room
Rihanna is about to go head to head with DC Comics over her name, Robyn.
DC Comics has filed a claim with the US Patent and Trademark office to prevent Rihanna from getting a trademark on the name Robyn, her actual first name, because it is too similar to Robin: The Boy Wonder, Batman’s sidekick. Rihanna is interested in using her first name as the title for an online magazine. DC is afraid that such a publication would tarnish the good name of one half of the “Dynamic Duo.”
At first glance this may look like a bit of an overreach on the part of DC. First is the obvious that Robin and Robyn aren’t even spelled the same way. Next, you have the fact that Robin is hardly a unique name. It’s a name used by people all over the world, including Rihanna. On the other hand DC has had a trade mark on Robin since at least 1984, which is four years before Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born in Barbados.
Trademarks can have many issues associated with them but they can be worth millions of pounds. When George Lucas coined the term ”droid” in the 1970s who knew that it would mean millions of dollars from Motorola more than 30 years later? That’s what happened when the mobile phone manufacturer named their line of DROID phones. They had to pay a license fee to LucasFilm.
It’s possible that DC may end up with a similar sort of arrangement. If they can’t stop Rihanna from using the “Robyn” name, she does have a viable claim to it, they may be able to work out some sort of licensing deal, where DC is able to make some money out of the endeavour. Rihanna is a big name and whatever she gets involved in has a high likelihood of success.
Since all this comes down to paperwork it could be quite some time before we see any sort of resolution.
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