New York Comic Con 2017

Judge says who can truly be a Comic-Con

Contributed by
Aug 24, 2018

We know that you love Comic-Con coverage, no matter which city is breaking the genre news, but thanks to a new development in a trademark case, it’ll be a little easier to remember which Comic-Cons are the “real” Comic-Cons. Some conventions might find themselves hitting the thesaurus (and their bank accounts) to deal with the outcome of the case.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, California U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia issued an injunction in the case between San Diego Comic Convention and Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, the pair in charge of Salt Lake Comic Con. Salt Lake was ordered to pay $20,000 in corrective advertising in the aftermath of a trademark infringement trial last winter, but when they asked Battaglia for a new trial, things got messy.

Not only did Battaglia not put aside the ruling, he upheld the jury’s verdict, issued an injunction, and ordered the defendants to pay about $4 million in attorneys' fees. And that’s as the newly-branded FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention is one week away from launch.

This is just one of many suits that SDCC has filed against pretender Comic-Cons around the U.S., but Salt Lake’s was the first to test the water -- and SDCC looks like it has the law squarely on its side. SDCC pushed for a new trial as well, asking for Salt Lake to disgorge profits because the San Diego plaintiffs disputed their non-willfulness. But, though the judge affirmed that Salt Lake was non-willful, he did add on some restraints after Salt Lake continued to push.

Salt Lake is barred from using "Comic Con,” "Comic-Con," or anything that sounds the same, like “KomicKhan,” and they can’t advertise as a former Comic-Con. “Comic Convention” is as close as any non-San Diego event seems like it can get, as Battaglia was seemingly fed up with the "exceptional" trademark case. It was only after Salt Lake brought up the same rehashed arguments that didn’t work at trial (like contending that "Comic Con" had become a generic term) that the judge dictated they pay attorneys’ fees.

With Salt Lake chastised and renamed, it may be the first in a series of Comic-Con dominoes that, if not associated with SDCC, could soon fall or face litigation.