The San Diego Comic-Con convention is suing the Salt Lake Comic Con for use of the term “Comic Con.”

The banner at San Diego Comic-Con. San Diego Comic-Con is currently pursuing legal action against the Salt Lake Comic Con for using the term "Comic Con." (Source: McClatchy-Tribune)
The banner at San Diego Comic-Con. San Diego Comic-Con is currently pursuing legal action against the Salt Lake Comic Con for using the term “Comic Con.” (Source: McClatchy-Tribune)

It all started in late July, when a vehicle wearing a Salt Lake Comic Con skin appeared at San Diego’s Comic-Con (SDCC). San Diego responded on July 25 with a cease and desist letter to the Salt Lake Comic Con founders, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandeburg, asserting that the use of the term “Comic Con” violated San Diego’s trademark.

“Attendees, exhibitors and fans seeing use of “Comic-Con” in connection with your convention will incorrectly assume that your convention is in some way affiliated with SDCC and it’s Comic Con convention . . . Use of the Comic-Con mark to promote your convention during SDCC’s Comic-Con convention is clear evidence that you are blatantly and willfully attempting to confuse attendees . . . It is also evidence that you are improperly attempting to take advantage of the notoriety and fame of the Comic-Con convention,“ said the letter from SDCC’s lawyer.

The cease and desist letter demanded that the Salt Lake Comic Con discontinue all uses of the phrase “Comic Con” in conjunction with a convention, including websites, ads and other promotional materials.

Just so we’re clear, “Comic Con” is not currently a trademarked phrase. In 1995 SDCC attempted to trademark this term, but fierce opposition caused them to abandon that trademark in 1999, according to SDCC cannot legally claim ownership of that term or demand that other Cons stop using it.

This whole thing just seems ridiculous. I can’t imagine SDCC’s motive, especially since this lawsuit works in opposition to the values they claim to promote.

“Comic-Con International: San Diego is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture,” says the SDCC Mission Statement.

Here’s the thing, SDCC. You can’t claim to promote appreciation of comics and popular art forms through conventions and then sue another Comic Con for following your mission statement. At least not without looking like a bully.

There are over 80 conventions in the U.S. that use some version of the term “Comic Con” in their name, and their locations span the map from New Mexico to Vermont and everywhere in between.

Considering the sizable list of Cons that are not being sued for trademark infringement, it’s hard not to feel like Salt Lake’s Comic Con is being targeted.

I can only assume this lawsuit has something to do with the huge success the Salt Lake Comic Con has seen since it’s first convention last September. Salt Lake Comic Con is currently the third-largest Comic Con in the country, with the April FanXperience bringing in over 100,000 people.

There is quantifiable evidence of what we’ve always suspected: Utah is a really nerdy state.

Comic Con matters to us, and attempts to divorce a convention we’ve already come to love from it’s iconic name will only incite the anger of Trekkies, Bronies, Whovians, you name it, across Utah and the surrounding states.

Alright, SDCC. You may be a bigger Con. And you may have A-list nerd actors like Benedict Cumberbatch.

But you know what we’ve got?

One of the fastest-growing Comic Cons in the country, and currently, the right to use that title as we dang well please.


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