Salt Lake Comic Con founders fight back

Use the court of public opinion to combat trademark infringement claims brought by the San Diego Comic-Con

There was a time when comic book fans had trouble connecting to one another. Attempts to do so were limited to printing cheap fan-magazines (fanzines) in their basements; or finding the addresses of other fans in the letters pages of their favorite comics writing to them. But finally, when a few of them decided it would be a good idea to get together, first in comic book clubs and later in larger groups, slowly but surely, the comic book convention was born.

Flash forward a few dozen years and the landscape is quite different. Comic book conventions are huge nowadays. There are major conventions in large cities every month, and the biggest of these bring in over a hundred thousand attendees, not to mention dealers, celebrities and creators. They are big money events with names like The Emerald City Comic Con, the New York Comic Con, Comic-Con International: San Diego and the Salt Lake Comic Con.

Brandenburg speculates that the success of his company’s conventions might have had something to do with the sudden attention from San Diego. Their convention, FanX, occoured the same weekend of a San Diego-affiliated event, Wondercon.  While Wondercon was a well-established event, the show in Salt Lake surpassed it in terms of attendees and professionals. It’s likely, then, that San Diego was intimidated by Brandenburg and Farr’s success.

The fact of the matter is, the term “Comic Con” has been in use for at least 50 years, predating the San Diego event, and is used by dozens of conventions, large and small. SDCC has attempted to sue other events, such as the Chicago Comic Con, for infringement, but has been unsuccessful. The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted a trademark on “Comic-Con” to the company that runs the San Diego event, but did not grant them a trademark on “Comic Con.”

Senior Editor and Community Manager

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Rich Steeves

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

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