Some people want Disney and Marvel to stop police officers from wearing the Punisher logo, but an entertainment lawyer says a lawsuit wouldn't be effective

Some people want Disney and Marvel to stop police officers from wearing the Punisher logo, but an entertainment lawyer says a lawsuit wouldn't be effective
"The Punisher"Netflix
  • Some people on Twitter are calling on Marvel and Disney to speak out or take action against police officers who wear the Punisher logo on their uniforms.
  • There's a history of some police officers using the skull logo of the Marvel comics character, who is a deadly vigilante.
  • Gerry Conway, the cocreator of the Punisher, has condemned police officers wearing the Punisher logo, saying last year that those who do "should be fired immediately."
  • A Marvel representative directed Business Insider to a "Punisher" comic published last year for its stance on the issue, in which the character criticized police who idolized him.
  • But Justin Jacobson, an entertainment attorney with the Jacobson Firm, told Business Insider that Marvel and Disney wouldn't be able to take effective legal action unless the officers were selling merchandise with the logo.

As protests over the death of George Floyd spread throughout the US, some people have called on Marvel and its corporate parent Disney to crack down on police officers who affix the Punisher logo to their uniforms.

The skull logo of the Punisher, a Marvel comics character who utilizes deadly vigilantism, has been used by some in law enforcement in the US, a practice which has gained renewed attention this week.

Photos circulating on Twitter appeared to show police officers wearing the Punisher's skull logo on their uniforms during protests. HuffPost senior reporter Christopher Mathias wrote in a Wednesday report that he saw an NYPD officer wearing a "skull patch on his bulletproof vest."
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Some people on Twitter called for Marvel and Disney, which have a history of going after unauthorized use of their intellectual property, to take action or speak out against police officers wearing the Punisher logo.

"[Disney] could crack down on cops who plaster black-and-blue Punisher logos on their squad cars," one person tweeted. "Choosing to let it slide is an endorsement on their part."

Matt D. Wilson, a comic-book writer, tweeted that Disney should "immediately demand police stop using the Punisher logo and sue departments that continue to."
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The cocreator of the Punisher, Gerry Conway, has also previously condemned the use of the character's logo as an emblem for law enforcement.

"Any 'cop' who wears a Punisher logo in his official capacity is identifying law enforcement with an outlaw," Conway tweeted in October, after i09 reported that a Dallas officer wore a Punisher logo to a community oversight meeting. "These 'cops' are a disgrace to serious police officers everywhere. They show an imbecilic level of irresponsibility and should be fired immediately."
Some people want Disney and Marvel to stop police officers from wearing the Punisher logo, but an entertainment lawyer says a lawsuit wouldn't be effective
"The Punisher" issue 13 (2019)Marvel Comics/Szymon Kudranski
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Disney and Marvel likely can't take effective legal action

When asked Marvel's stance on the matter, a representative pointed Business Insider to "Punisher" issue 13, published last year. In the comic, by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Szymon Kudranski, the character encounters police officers who idolize him.

"You took an oath to uphold the law," the character tells the officers in the comic. "You help people. I gave all that up a long time ago. You don't do what I do. Nobody does."

The Marvel rep added that the company's position had not changed since the comic was released and that it had never given permission to police departments to use the Punisher logo in that manner.
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But Justin Jacobson, an entertainment attorney with the Jacobson Firm, told Business Insider that Disney and Marvel couldn't take effective legal action against officers wearing the logo unless they were also selling items that feature it.

"If you buy something and wear it, that's your right," Jacobson said. "But action could be taken against the manufacturers or distributors of the product."

That thought leads to one potential action Disney and Marvel could take, which was pointed out by Abraham Riesman, a journalist and author of the upcoming book, "True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee."
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Riesman tweeted that it was time for Disney to "stop selling Punisher merch."
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