Paul Liberatore

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'Real estate superhero' hit with copyright warning from DC Comics


A B.C. realtor has been hit with a copyright warning from DC Comics, the comics company known for superheroes such as Superman and Batman, over his superhero personality.

Ian Brett, who dubbed himself "Captain Vancouver" after Vancouver's namesake maritime explorer, bills himself as a "Real Estate Superhero" on his website.

He says took on his alter ego as a response to what he says are sketchy practices in Vancouver's real estate market, such as shadow-flipping – which is when realtors and investors can flip a property several times before the sale is even finalized.

"I need to stand up and be a real superhero," he said.

His outfit features a powdered wig, tricorn hat and breeches, but DC Comics has taken offence to the bright red and yellow "R" logo splashed across his T-shirt.

Brett had trademarked the name "Captain Vancouver" in 2013, but says issues arose when he went to trademark the phrase "Real Estate Superhero."

"A lawyer in Toronto said 'no we can't use it,'" he told CTV Vancouver. "They sent us a letter, a bit of a threat actually, telling us we had to stop it because they own all trademarks with the word superhero in it."

In a letter sent in early January from Bereskin & Parr, a Toronto law firm specializing in intellectual property law, the company noted that DC Comics has held the copyright to Superman and his appearance for more than 70 years. It also notes that DC Comics is the co-owner of "Super Heroes" and "Super Hero."

"While we appreciate your intent may have been to compare your success in real estate to the success of the SUPERMAN character, our client's intellectual property rights are very important assets," the letter notes.

The company said it would initiate legal proceedings if Brett:

• Didn't withdraw his application for the term "real estate superhero";

• Cease use of those words and the insignia which resembles Superman's shield;

• Didn’t look to use or apply to register any Superman or DC Comics signs in the future.

The law firm had no comment when contacted by CTV News.

Brett notes that he bears no physical resemblance to the alien from Krypton, but agreed to change the shape of his logo, which will now be in the shape of house.

"Nobody wants lawsuits right? But I just wanted to see the funny side of this," he said. "I'm not a man of steel, I'm a man of sales."


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