Wonder Woman and Whataburger Tangle Over Logos and Trademarks
The first Whataburger opened in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1950. As a Northern California resident, I’ve never eaten at one, but evidently there are more than 700 location sprinkled across the United States — mainly in the south.
Whataburger’s logo looks like this:
Warner Bros. recently filed for a trademark on the new logo Wonder Woman is sporting in the DC Extended Universe movies, which looks like this:
Whataburger is not a fan of the new Wonder Woman logo, which they feel is too close to the logo they have held since 1950, and according to Bleeding Cool, they are rattling sabers in an attempt to get Warner Bros. to back off.
There is some irony here, because the movie logo is clearly a variation on the iconic Wonder Woman logo that the Amazon has held since the character was reworked after the classic 1980s mini-series, Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Until that point, Wonder Woman’s costume had featured an eagle on her chest, a holdover from her World War II patriotic roots.
DC wanted to get rid of the eagle for two important reasons:
- As portrayed, the eagle was clearly a U.S. symbol, and it made little sense for a mythical Greek society; and
- You can’t trademark an eagle.
Point #2 was likely the more pressing issue for DC. They has trademarked Superman’s”S” shield and Batman’s bat symbol, but Wonder Woman had nothing equivalent that could be trademarked and slapped on clothing, notebooks, coffee mugs, etc.
DC’s president and editor-in-chief at the time, Jenette Kahn, turned to famed graphic designer Milton Glaser, who had also designed the new DC logo, the famous “I ❤ NY” logo, and many others. Glaser’s studio came up with a distinct logo that invoked the letters of Wonder Woman’s name, rather than eagle imagery.
This logo, or slight variations has served as Wonder Woman’s symbol for the past 30 years — and DC could trademark it. They even gave an “in story” explanation as to why Wonder Woman suddenly had new threads.
That brings us back to the Whataburger case. If anything, the logo created in the 1980s looks even more like the Whataburger logo than the new movie logo does. I have no idea why Whataburger never complained about it in the 30 years since its creation. And since they never did, I think they are going to have a hard time convincing a judge that consumers are going to get confused between a fast food restaurant and a warrior princess of the Amazons.