You’ll recall that a few weeks ago, the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs sued Dynamite over their ongoing lines of Tarzan and John Carter comics. Although the earliest works in each series are in the public domain, ERB, Inc. sued on the basis of trademark infringement, claiming that Dynamite’s Lord of the Jungle was infringing their trademark for “TARZAN LORD OF THE JUNGLE” and so on.
Well, Dynamite has responded, and it’s pretty much a blanket denial, as you can see above. Dynamite’s defense is pretty simple: the books are in the public domain, and ERB, Inc., doesn’t have a trademark to infringe. For instance, ERB didn’t file a trademark claim for Lord of the Jungle until March, 2012, although a shadowy company called ETT Corp. had filed one a few years earlier.
We’re not well versed enough in copyright and trademark to see who has the upper hand here, but it’s worth pointing out that this book, part of the pre-opening JOHN CARTER surge in interest, was in fact ALSO UNauthorized by ERB, Inc. Dynamite’s filing has a laundry list of unauthorized Tarzan and Barsoomian spinoffs.
As we mentioned in our first post on this lawsuit, it’s definitely one that bears watching in this IP-obsessed age. Tarzan is one of the first great licensed characters to go out of copyright, and this won’t be the last case of its kind.
[Thanks to Bumblebee for the link,]
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.