Comic-Con clash

An epic battle breaks out over the term “Comic Con”

The world’s largest comic book convention has just ended, but the controversy surrounding it certainly has not. 

Comic Con International: San Diego (known colloquially as the San Diego Comic-Con or SDCC) just wrapped up after four days of intense pop culture insanity, including movie trailers, comic announcements and celebrity appearances. While SDCC is the best known such event on the planet, the event, which has been held annually for over 40 years, is certainly not the only comic book convention in the country. Comic cons (as they are known) are held almost every weekend. Some are small enough to fit in a Knights of Columbus hall, while others, like New York Comic Con, attract over a hundred thousand fans.

Now, though, the lawyers who represent SDCC have decided to send a cease and desist letter to the organizers of the Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC), accusing them of trademark infringement.

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"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 its Comic-Con convention," the letter noted. "In fact, we are aware of multiple instances where persons have incorrectly believed that the Salt Lake Comic Con convention was an SDCC event."

The attorneys representing SDCC are asking for damages and an injunction forbidding the future use of the term “Comic Con,” though they are reportedly willing to forgo the damages if SLCC drops the term. 

The co-founder of the SLCC event, Bryan Brandenburg, explained that he spoke with executives from other major conventions that use the term and found the whole matter a bit “far fetched.” The US Patent and Trademark Office denied SDCC a trademark for “Comic Con” though they did approve “Comic-Con.” SDCC also tried and failed to block the Chicago Comic Con from using the term.

Senior Editor

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Rich Steeves

Richard P. Steeves is Senior Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he covers the intellectual property and compliance beats. Rich earned a B.A. in English Literature...

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