Wogs visit Aussies on Australia Day
THE Sydney creator of a YouTube comic phenomenon known as Superwog is fighting to stop his alter ego being stripped from him by the entertainment giant DC Comics, the owner of Superman.
Theodore Saidden, 22, applied for a trademark registration for Superwog and a stylised shield logo for his character, which has gained popularity among university and school students online.
DC Comics, a division of Time Warner, the largest entertainment company in the world, and owner of comic characters including Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern and The Flash, is far from amused. It has engaged the legal firm Baker & McKenzie and has filed its opposition to the registration application with IP Australia.
Mr Saidden, a final-year business law student at the University of Technology, Sydney, said he had received a letter two months ago ordering him to close his website and stop producing T-shirts and stickers with the Superwog logo.
”I have been accused of stealing the identity of Superman and misleading people with my character,” said Mr Saidden, who is of Egyptian and Greek background. ”They told me the public would think that Superman is endorsing Superwog.”
Inspired by the comedians Chris Lilley and Sacha Baron Cohen, Mr Saidden and his friends created the character two years ago. Since then, satirical instructional videos have appeared on YouTube, which led to demand for merchandise and paid appearances.
”This is quite crushing,” Mr Saidden said. ”I am just trying to make people laugh.
”Their lawyers have come back to us saying I can keep using the name Superwog but not register it as a trademark. But this is just ridiculous; they are not the same.
”I was just trying to do things properly and you get punished.”
An intellectual property lawyer, Trevor Choy, said DC Comics was staging a pre-emptive strike.
”DC Comics don’t know where Superwog will end up – it could stay as a small website selling novelty tees, or it could one day end up as a TV series or film.
”Or worse, what if slackness in this case encourages others to come up with Superaussie, Superkid and Superwidget? DC Comics could lose millions because their licensees will be reluctant to pay the current high licensing fees. They can’t afford to take the risk.”
Mr Choy believed DC Comics was acting correctly and the Super- wog logo was an obvious and deliberate parody of the Superman logo.
Baker & McKenzie did not respond to inquiries from The Sun-Herald.