Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekend Headlines - Comic-Con Lawsuit Update

The trademark lawsuit over ownership and usage of the term "Comic Con" (and similiar terms) could be headed to a formal jury trial following a judge's decision handed down Tuesday, according to Associated Press.

In 2014, Comic-Con International: San Diego sued Dan Farr Productions LLC, the company which runs Salt Lake City Comic Con, for allegedly infringing on SDCC's various trademarks as well as "False Designation of Origin."

In SDCC's original court filing of the lawsuit, the non-profit alleges that the defenders sought to "capitalize on SDCC’s creativity, ingenuity and hard work through the unauthorized use of SDCC’s trademarks to advertise and promote Defendants’ own popular arts convention titled 'Salt Lake Comic Con.'"

"A review of the Salt Lake Comic Con website demonstrates Defendants’ extensive, unauthorized use of 'Comic Con' (which is identical to or confusingly similar to SDCC’s COMIC-CON marks) to promote the Salt Lake Comic Con convention," reads SDCC's lawsuit. "Defendants’ use of SDCC’s COMIC-CON marks (or confusingly similar variants) is intended to suggest, mislead and confuse consumers into believing that the Salt Lake Comic Con convention is associated with, authorized by, endorsed by or sponsored by SDCC."

SDCC claims trademark ownership of "Comic-Con," "Anaheim Comic-Con," "Comic-Con International," and their logo (seen below).

On Tuesday, a Southern District Court of California judge ruled that a survey provided by Comic-Con International: San Diego that reported 80% of people thought Comic Con' is a specific brand name was valid - paving the way for a jury trial.

Salt Lake City Comic Con's organizers filed a counterclaim in 2017, and has outlined their position on their website.

"Our position is that the phrases 'comic con,' 'comicon' and even 'comic-con' are generic and are abbreviations for the term 'comic convention.' This has been a common expression since 1964, six years before San Diego Comic-Con even existed. When used with another set of words such as 'Salt Lake,' 'Big Apple,' 'Chicago' or 'New York,' they become a name that has protection and exclusivity."

According to AP, over 100 events in the United States utilize the term 'comic con' (or a variation thereof).

The news organization goes on to say that Tuesday's decision could lead to a jury trial in November.