Comic-Con, a San Diego based comic book and entertainment convention is one of the most popular and successful in the world. It’s so popular; in fact, company has had to fight tooth and nail to keep other conventions from stealing its name to soak up some of that success. Most recently, San Diego won a suit against Salt Lake City’s “Comic-Con style” convention, after they tried to use a version of the trademarked name.
The court order came from a San Diego judge, awarding Comic-Con $4-million for their trouble and lawyer fees. The initial reward was $20,000 for damages, an amount which has the Salt Lake City convention team scratching its head at the irony of the difference in amounts. The brand, now known as FanX, has made it clear they do not intent to pay the money, and are appealing to fight the outrageous amount.
Bryan Brandenburg and Dan Farr are the founders of FanX, and while they may not agree with judge Battaglia’s ruling, he expects them to respect it, along with any others who might infringe on the brand. San Diego’s Comic-Con has been around since 1970 and is a tourist attraction and economy boost for the city. From a small comic book convention, the event has grown into a huge affair, drawing in talented actors, artists, and fans from around the world.
Part of the argument San Diego made also includes the rather obvious way that Salt Lake Comic Con tried to overshadow the Californian event. The Utah group showed up during the largest Comic-Con during July, which draws more than 135-thousand attendees each year, driving a $200,000 super car. Worse still, the car was wrapped in a marketing ploy, advertising Salt Lake Comic Con to San Diego attendees.
A similar case occurred with Phoenix, Arizona, when the city created Phoenix Comic Con. They have changed their name to Phoenix Fest, avoiding further penalization through the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.
Exemptions to Contesting
While there are some cities which are restricted from using the Comic-Con trademark name, licensing agreements have been implemented with other cities. Montreal, Quebec in Canada, for example, can use the name, as well as Boston, Massachusetts.
San Diego Comic-Con may have made exceptions for some conventions with licensing agreements, but there are others which are just too big to contest. The New York Comic Con, for example, is the largest in the United States, and hasn’t been argued by San Diego, despite the efforts the brand has gone to with other city conventions.
San Diego Prefers to Settle
San Diego might have won, but they want the world to know they aren’t bullies. The convention brand is more than happy to settle, and in fact prefers to stay out of court. The company filed their suit against the Utah convention until the producers ignored several letters filed for the organizers to cease and desist their use of the trademarked name.
San Diego Comic-Con is scheduled to go on next year as planned, and is projected to be a sold-out success, just as it is every year.