Marvel Successfully Argued In Court That The X-Men Were Mutants In Order To What?
Answer: Dodge Import Taxes
In 1994, Marvel Comics subsidiary Toy Biz took to the courts in order to argue that the assortment of people that make up the X-Men and the members of the X-Men universe were not, in fact, fully human, but mutants. What motivated them to lodge such an argument? A bid to protect “mutant” as a trademark? A legal attempt at punishing copy-cat mutant-based toy makers and comic book publishers?
None of the above; their argument for the quintessential mutant-hood of the X-Men was none other than a bid to pay a lower tax rate on the importation of X-Men universe action figures manufactured in foreign factories. Under federal trade regulations (the Harmonized Tariff Schedule), imported human-like dolls were taxed at 12 percent, but non-doll toys (including non-human figurines) were taxed at 6.8 percent.
In January of 2003, Toy Biz finally succeeded in arguing that figures from the X-men, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four comic series were mutated humans and, in doing so, locked in a lower tax rate and the characters’ status as non-humans for a short time. Since then, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule has been changed to eliminate the distinction between dolls and other toys, which are now in the same tax category.
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