How a football team got on the wrong side of Batman

How a football team got on the wrong side of Batman
Batman vs Valencia CF.

Despite not possessing any inhuman superpowers, Batman (by DC Comics) remains still a titan in mainstream culture.

While it is true that the recent resurgence of Marvel characters on the big screen and the unfortunate failure of DC Comics to replicate the same success has had him relegated to the bedrooms and geek-dens of the Generation Ys, Batman is idolized even by those who may disagree with DC.

This is in part because of a special trait which also separates him from the rest of the justice-bent lot. It is this: Batman is but a symbol. Anybody could be him.

Bruce Wayne said so himself, on numerous occasions. It's perhaps more profound in a rare quiet moment in The Dark Knight Rises.

But it seems Batman's publisher, DC Comics did not get that memo.

The US-based publishers are flexing their economic muscle, threatening to unleash the full fury of Justice on an unassuming and far-flung villain. One which does not yet feature in DC's list of rogues – a football club in Spain, Valencia CF.

DC Comics filed a complaint with the EU's Office of Intellectual Property opposing the centennial logo of Valencia CF on a claim there was a "likelihood of confusion" with some of the designs of Batman's symbol.

Valencia CF, founded in 1919, predates the creation of Batman (1939) by 20 years. The bat had been part of their logo since its inception, albeit in various designs. It is, in fact, taken off the coat of arms of the City of Valencia.

Legend has it that a bat helped King James I of Aragon to conquer the then kingdom of Valencia in the first half of the 13th century. On the night his enemies had prepared an ambush, a bat woke King James I by batting its wings on a drum and thus saving him.

How the Valencia CF logo has evolved over the years.

The bat had been a part of Spanish heraldry since then. It is on every representation of the city. There are many variants of it. Just like DC Comics has had different logos for Batman over the year. They are sure to bear some resemblance with the ones in stones and iron littered around this part of Spain.

This new symbol — a modern-looking bat-shaped figure with open wings — has been used in different colours during the team's centennial celebrations that began earlier this year.

A bat insignia as seen on an old building in Valencia. Photo: Flicker

The club has made it clear – they are reinforcing their association with the bat, one of the iconic symbols of the city with an innovative design that looks into the future.

An admirable stand, one even Batman would have been proud of. But not DC.

The publisher had been clipping at the heels of the football club for a while now. Valencia CF and DC Comics had locked horns before, in 2012, on the use of the bat design for a line of clothing that the club had planned to bring out.

If the recent seasons of La Liga have taught us anything, it's that Valencia is not to be trifled with.

One of the founding teams of G-14, an elite league that determined the future of football in Europe, and a long-standing member of the European Club Association recognized by FIFA, Valencia CF is undoubtedly one of the superpowers in football. The 23 titles glittering in their trophy room is a testament to that fact.

The club has vowed to contest any attempts from the American corporation. They have hit back with a withering statement that even Joker would shun from.

"We are not going to stop using the bat design because DC Comics says so. No brand has a global exclusive on bats. When this club embraced the bat as their logo, they were chasing bison in the US."

Surely, DC knows this. That's why this isn't a lawsuit yet, but a minor complaint.

Both the parties have extended the "cooling off" period to October 30, 2020, to negotiate a possible deal. If an agreement is not reached, the intellectual property office will rule on the case.

DC Comics does not mind not winning. You see, the thing about trademarks is that if you own one and don't actively seek to protect it, then you may lose your ownership. This feud is more of an opportunity for DC to show their desire to preserve their Batman trademark with a notable case.

For DC to really win, they may need to hire some lawyers with genuine superpowers.

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