I want to sell an educational service, teaching people step by step how to design a Superman Logo, using various design software, but only showing them how to make a logo with a different letter, not with an S. I want to provide, besides the detailed tutorial, also an editable design file (vector file), which I have created according to the tutorial, so that they see how it's supposed to be done.
The service will be distributed online to everybody, including US residents.
Is there any trademark/copyright concern with the tutorials, or with the sample design files, or with both?
Patent Application Attorney
The Superman Logo is the intellectual property of DC Comics. Any variation of the Superman logo is likely to be considered a derivative work, which would also be an infringement on the IP of DC Comics. If you were to provide a service where you teach people how to create infringing works, then it is very likely that you may be liable for contributory infringement. Also, if this is to be web based, you will likely need to show something on your site that is related to the Superman logo, which would put you in the crosshairs of a direct infringement action. In short, DC Comics does not want anyone to create the Superman logo except for someone that works for them, or someone that they have sold a license to.
The answer to this question is for informational purposes only and does not form an attorney-client relationship.
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Contracts / Agreements Lawyer
Yes there are concerns, but whether or not DC will win the suit it not clear. That being said, do you have several $100,000s in cash lying around to pay for attorneys? Do you feel like going through several years of protracted litigation and the possibility you will have to declare bankruptcy?
Avoiding a lawsuit is better than winning a lawsuit.
Choose a different symbol and avoid the issue all together.
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Family Law Attorney
Completely drop the Superman aspect to this and you might have something that doesn't get you in trouble. By that, I mean not just the use of "Superman" but also any other trademarks or copyright ed properties of DC Comics; ie the "logo." Changing the letter won't be sufficient to avoid very costly troubles.
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I agree with Attorney Malik here. It would be different if this was part of a classroom learning exercise within a non-profit/non-commercial institution, but what you are describing is clearly problematic.
Of course, I highly doubt it is the kind of scenario that will get you sued straight-away, but if you were discovered you will most certainly get a letter from their lawyers.
You should discuss your plans and objectives with a lawyer in private before making any commitments.
Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.
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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
Unless you have a license from the owners of the trademarks and copyrights relating to the character "Superman", your "educational service", will be blatantly illegal, and you will probably be sued for willful trademark and copyright infringement. You cannot make this obviously illegal scheme fly by labeling it as an "educational service". You will face not only civil liability, but my guess is that you would be prosecuted criminally if you pursue this project. Don't even think about it.