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Books The Courts

San Diego Comic-Con Wins Trademark Suit Against 'Salt Lake Comic Con' ( 117

The Deseret News reports: A jury has found that Salt Lake Comic Con founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, along with their company, violated a trademark when they named their fan convention a "comic con." However, the jury decided that the trademark was not willfully violated, and only awarded $20,000 of the $12 million that San Diego Comic-Con had asked for in damages. The decision came at the end of an eight-day jury trial and three years of legal maneuvering... And with an estimated 140 other fan conventions across the country calling themselves comic cons, the impact of the decision could be felt nationwide...

The Salt Lake group also has an ongoing action with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking to invalidate San Diego's "comic-con" trademark... San Diego Comic-Con, which has been holding events since 1970, has a trademark on "comic-con" with a hyphen, but was unsuccessful in its 1995 bid to trademark "comic con," with a space. The unhyphenated name "Comic Con International," as well as the event's iconic "eye logo," are also protected by trademark. The event maintains that its trademarks cover the term "comic con" in all its forms...

San Diego Comic-Con wanted more than $12 million in damages from Salt Lake, including over $9 million for a three-month "corrective advertising campaign" to dispel confusion... In his closing arguments, Michael Katz, an attorney for Salt Lake Comic Con, questioned the amount San Diego was seeking, noting that San Diego authorities said during trial the organization generally spends between $20,000 and $30,000 for a month of advertising.

Slashdot reader AlanBDee writes: When I attended the Salt Lake City Comic Con I did assume it was the same organization that put on San Diego Comic-Con... But now I have to wonder how that will affect other Comic Cons around the nation? What should these comic based fan conventions be called if not Comic Con?
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San Diego Comic-Con Wins Trademark Suit Against 'Salt Lake Comic Con'

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @10:41PM (#55708953)

    The whole thing about having a trademarked name, is San Diego Comic Con may very well want to branch out in offering comic conventions in other cities - to me the name does sound pretty generic but just far enough away from "Comic Convention" that I can see where they'd be awarded a trademark, especially for Comic-Con.

    Other shows can be called "Comic Conventions" and they should be perfectly fine as it's enough of a distinction and comic itself is a broadly generic term.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )

      When I did some searching earlier I found an article which said the Salt Lake City group claimed that the term comic con predated the San Diego one in the 1970s.

      Not a lawyer but I do find it surprising a term which seems generic term could be trademarked.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Assuming "comic con" is trademarkable and not generic, like "tomato soup".

      • by hawk ( 1151 )

        Recall that decades ago, MS claimed they were filing to trademark "Microsoft Windows", not "Windows", which could not have been granted.

        You wouldn't know that from their behavior today . . .


    • I could see them possibly having a valid trademark on the term taken together as a whole, but on just “comic con”? That’s like when Apple was slapped down for trying to sue Amazon for referring to their mobile apps marketplace as an “App Store”. The terms are generic and unenforceable.

      It’d be one thing if they had branded it as “Comicon”, but “con” being short for “convention” pre-dates SDCC. The university I attended has held AggieCon

  • How about Comicon? (cc-by-0, I declare...unless someone else has that, and likely do ; ) )
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 09, 2017 @10:52PM (#55708979)

    Based on these actions I feel much better about my decision not to continue supporting them.

    Comic Con has turned into an over-commercialized whore-fest, less about the fans and more about pushing whatever Big Media is selling this year, as can be seen by the majority of their panels, and the floor space disproportionately focusing on non-comic related content nowadays.

    Whether it is porn stars, new movie/tv franchises, or videogames, Comic Con has been letting in a lot of things that really stretch the limits of a comic convention.

    Given the amounts these knockoff comic conventions are charging though, nobody on any side of the debate is not being a money whore though. Would rather seen the cons just fall into irrelevance, but sadly all these faux nerds and geeks who thing being a commerce whore and fanboy/girl gives you nerd/geek cred.

    Maybe it is time for the real nerds and geeks and hackers and phreaks to find new terms for ourselves, because the old ones have been diluted to the point of meaninglessness.

    • Capitalism assimilates subcultures, it happened to rock, it happened to metal, it happened to gaming, and now it is happening to geeks.

  • by Templer421 ( 4988421 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @10:54PM (#55708989)

    NOT Comic Con?

    • They could call them PAX.

    • They started a branding with "FanXperience" and "FanX", Wikipedia says it started in 2014 three months before SDCC started legal proceedings.

      I think that's a better name, since so little of the conventions are focused around comic books any more. They pull from TV shows, from movies, from video games, from anime, from graphic novels, from authors, from non-comic artists, and from many other sources as well. All those fandoms are in addition to comic books.

      Headliners aren't typically from comic books any

  • - The Convention Formerly Known as Salt Lake Comic Con.
    - Much Better Than Comic Con
    - The Comic Convention That Isn't a Con
    - Unwilling to Pay Extortionate Fees to Be Called Comic Con
    - Did They Bribe the Judge So We Aren't Comic Con Anymore?
    - Like Comic Con, Except We Don't Suck
    - More Comic, Less Con


  • So which comic con conned which comic con out of their comic con name?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When people hear "City <generic convention name>", is anyone actually confused?

    (Aside from the stoners who wonder "Huh... I didn't know that Salt Lake City moved San Diego! I guess Mormons like the beach, too!?")

  • Welcome to Mormon Con 2018!

  • So "Comic Con", a straightforward streamlining of the generic term, should be considered generic as well.

    Contrast that with a clear trademark violation: an entrepreneur who reasoned that "google" meant Internet search, or "amazon" meant ecommerce, would have a tough time convincing a court that "" or "" didn't violate somebody's trademark.

  • Rumours were heard that "Salt Lake Comic Con" would change its name to "Salt Lake Comic Sans".

  • are the lawyers. Would be much cheaper to have dueled at high noon, and more entertaining.
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @11:51PM (#55709117)
    The word 'con' has been short for convention well, forever. This is why jury trials suck. There's no way this should have passed muster. I'm guessing the schmucks that run San Diego's Comic Convention just had better lawyers. I'm guessing the chewbacca defense was employed, because I can't think of a single damn good reason why else they'd win this.
    • A jury by peers, should mean that the only people allowed to be on the jury are those who have attended one or more comic book conventions in their lives.

  • I hope ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @11:55PM (#55709121)

    ... this doesn't result in any confusion with my Socialist party convention: The San Diego Commie-con.

  • Ba-dum tsss

    Salt Lake one should just change its name to

    Salt Lake Comic CONvention

  • Other gatherings should just call themselves Comic McConface.

  • But it will only be held once a year.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Sunday December 10, 2017 @01:47AM (#55709385)

    Also realize they don't care.

    But... OTH, it does bug me when people poach on the Youtube "Primative Technology" guy.

    So I guess I get San Diego action but either

    * I just don't sympathize with really rich people.
    * I don't think you can confuse different comic book and science fiction conventions.

    In the end it comes down to guests and events. Not the name.

    For me.

  • This is all rather ironic (even hypocritical), given that San Diego Comic-con has always been about blatantly ripping off comic and movie design property in the form of attendee costumes. (Of course that's fine by fair use doctrine and artistic license, but the irony remains.)
  • In fact, if I google "comic con", the NYCC comes up first, followed by SDCC.

    Alternate names:
    - Comicky Con
    - GraNoCon
    - Comicsexpo
    - Comixpo
    - Nerd/Geek/Dweeb/Derp/[choose your favorite reclaimed epithet] Con

  • 92 posts and nobody has registered his disgust yet?

  • An abbreviation that has been used for decades. Heck, baseball card conventions, comic book conventions... decades old.

    This trademark should ONLY be enforceable in San Diego. Now, a legitimate trademark would be if San Diego Comic Con created a stylized logo/text type for "Comic Con" which they then used to branch out to other cities. No one else could use that style.

    But government is so stupid, this sort of thing exists. $20,000 is enough to kill a convention.

    To put it in perspective, this would be like