Many cartoon design artists dream one day that their own beloved superhero character will become popular like Superman and Captain America. Without a trademark, however, your artwork could become prey for unscrupulous businesses or designers. Artists who design comic book characters can trademark their designs, protecting the artists' right to collect fees on the use of their designs in comic books and other goods. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gives trademarks for comic book superhero characters.
Obtain copyright protections on your artwork which allow you to claim the right to apply for a trademark. The 1976 Copyright Act indicates that any intellectual property you create as an employee or as an independent contractor becomes your property, or the property of any employer who owns the rights through an artist contract. Collect all invoices detailing the sale of your comic book superhero character to any third-party publishers. If you retain the rights to your artwork as the employee of a comic book publisher, obtain official written documentation from the company stating this formally.
Choose which trademark classes you want to trademark your comic book character under. There are 34 international trademark classes for goods; Class 16 trademarked goods include goods made from paper materials, such as comic books. If your superhero character artwork will be used for merchandise purposes, such as footwear and bedsheets, apply for your trademark in other classes as well.
Search trademark databases to find out if the superhero character artwork you want to trademark is completely original (see Resources). If a database search doesn't turn up a name or design conflict in any of your chosen trademark classes, you are free to apply for a trademark on your artwork.
Submit the appropriate application forms to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. These forms, available on the office's website, include the initial trademark application as well as intent-to-use, or ITU, forms to apply for trademarks in separate classes. The office also provides response form templates which can reduce the processing time to respond to trademark issues raised during the trademark process.
Respond promptly to any correspondence sent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office regarding the progress of your trademark application. Trademark applications for intellectual property, including comic book artwork, already in commerce takes at least half a year; delayed responses to the office can add another year and a half to the process. If you do not respond to any issues raised by the office during the trademarking process within two months, your application will be discarded.