We’ve been researching this one since the announcement was made. but Dynamite Entertainment is disputing the relaunch of Atlas Comics. Well, at least the use of the name “Atlas Comics.”
Last week, Steven Paul revealed he had purchased a majority stake in Atlas Comics, the 1970s comic publisher, with plans to launch movie franchises. In our research for that announcement, we noticed there was a dispute over the trademark of Atlas Comics. Dynamite Entertainment claims that it owns the trademark.
Atlas Comics launched in 1974 as an imprint of Seaboard Publishing. Martin Goodman founded it after a dispute with Marvel Comics, which he founded. Jason Goodman, Martin Goodman’s grandson, is in control of Atlas Comics and its character through Nemesis Group. Paul purchased a stake to the character library from Nemesis Group.
Dynamite Entertainment is claiming they own the name “Atlas Comics” but do not own the characters.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Dynamite said:
We have no clue why Martin Goodman, or anyone associated with him, feels that they can use the ‘Atlas Comics’ brand name. Any trademark rights the original Goodman’s Seaboard Publishing group may have owned in the ‘Atlas Comics’ name was abandoned decades ago. Because of that abandonment, the trademark ATLAS COMICS was adopted in 2002 by Jeffrey Stevens, who then registered the trademark in 2005, and Dynamite now owns all rights in the ATLAS COMICS trademark, having purchased it from Mr. Stevens in 2014. We have been actively using the mark ever since.
Jason Goodman attempted to relaunch Atlas Comics in 2010. He found out that Jeffrey Stevens had registered the trademark for comic books in 2005. That led to a lawsuit being filed by Nemesis against Stevens. Their argument was that Stevens hadn’t used the trademark. In March 2012 the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board allowed the case to proceed. In the end, the board ruled against Goodman in August 2014. Stevens’ trademark was then assigned to Dynamite Characters LLC, aka Dynamite Entertainment. In February 2016 Nemesis Group filed a new Atlas Comics logo with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Dynamite claims they have used the “Atlas Comics” branding. They use it to denote “limited-edition signed copies of high-profile titles.” Those copies feature a visible cover banner. You can see examples of that above.
It is possible that the Atlas Comics announcement was just about the characters and intellectual property. Atlas Comics as a publisher is dead and the name was just used for the announcement with no intention on further use. That still remains unclear and this is a story we’ll continue to follow.