Mailbag: Are Ratings Systems Trademarked?
Q. I tend to draw things rather simple, colorful and a bit more “cartoony-expressive” than realistic, but they still have adult themes at times. My comics are mostly PG-13 type stuff. I was wondering how I would go about putting a rating system on the cover of my graphic novels? I feel that it is good to be upfront about this sort of stuff like movies, video games and music lyrics do. I did some research aon the ratings used by DC and Marvel. Marvel used a G-PG-R system until the Motion Picture Association of America complained, as it holds a trademark on such classifications. Marvel thus switched their system.
So… my question is… Does DC and Marvel hold copyright (or trademark) to these rating systems? Did Marvel choose their rating system so that they wouldn’t get in trouble from duplicating DC’s? Do I have to come up with some unique system of my own for my comics? Don’t video games use the exact same ratings as DC? Wouldn’t every single comic creator have to develop their own system? Wouldn’t that be hard to do and completely insane for EVERY author to make their own rating system? Would I get in trouble for duplicating theirs?
Or would a simple listing of the controversial things be sufficient. A small blurb somewhere that says…. “This book contains brief nudity, profanity, and adult themes.”
A. There’s way more here than meets the eye.