And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week Legal Media

CMU Beef Of The Week #256: Rihanna v The Boy Wonder

By | Published on Friday 22 May 2015

I think trademark is probably my favourite area of the law. No, seriously. Yeah, I know I have a bit of a reputation for being sarcastic, but this is definitely the most serious thing I have ever put down on virtual paper.


That didn’t sound very genuine, did it? Look, I’m new to this whole sincerity thing. Let’s just put it like this: Trademark is the area of law most prone to hilarious disputes. No trademark, no Disney v Deadmau5. No trademark, no Katy Perry v that Left Shark statue. No trademark, no Mutya Beuna paper plate industry.

Trademark really is one of the greatest things humanity has ever invented. It highlights our collective personality flaws like nothing else (except patents), and that is the kind of shit on which I thrive. Well done, lawyers.

This week’s trademark bellendry comes in the form of DC Comics getting all shirty with Rihanna. “How could anyone possibly be angry with Rihanna?” you might ask. Especially a company that creates comic books.

Well, as you probably know, Rihanna’s real name is Robyn. And she now wants to trademark that name for use in a number of areas of business. DC is opposed to this because it owns a number of trademarks in relation to its character Robin. Yes, that’s right, DC is worried that people will confuse Rihanna with Batman’s sidekick.

Let’s be fair though. One thing Rihanna is hoping to use her all-new Robyn trademark for is “online non-downloadable general feature magazines”. My favourite.

Now, DC has long owned the Robin trademark for comic books, and apparently has ideas that it might one day launch a standalone title for The Boy Wonder. And, of course, if you were to see a magazine called Robyn with Rihanna’s face on it, you might not realise that it wasn’t a comic book devoted to a teenage boy in a cape.

Moreover, DC reckons that Rihanna’s use of Robyn as a name would piggyback on the goodwill built up by Robin since he first appeared in print back in 1940, and would dilute the character’s distinctive brand.

Though DC doesn’t seem to have mentioned what is surely the biggest possible confusion here: the fact that Batman’s sidekick Robyn has been moonlighting as a Swedish popstar for more than two decades now.