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29 July 2014Trademarks

San Diego and Salt Lake in ‘Comic Con’ battle

Two comic book conventions that use the same term in their title could soon find themselves in a legal battle after one was ordered to change its name.

San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) has warned Salt Lake Comic Con to remove ‘Comic Con’ from its name because it could create confusion and make people think the two events are affiliated.

In a cease-and-desist letter sent on July 25, law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, the legal counsel to SDCC, said the organisation owned several trademarks for the term ‘Comic-Con’.

“Use of Comic Con in this manner is an infringement of SDCC’s valuable registered trademarks rights. SDCC is entitled to an award of damages… as well as entry of an injunction prohibiting further infringing conduct”.

The letter said SDCC would “forego its right to recover damages and attorneys’ fees” if Salt Lake Comic Con complied with the requests and urged it to avoid the case being taken to court.

SDCC, an annual gathering of comic book enthusiasts, was first established in 1970 and is the US’s biggest comic book convention.

Salt Lake Comic Con has so far held two events and was established in September last year.

Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, the organisers of the Salt Lake convention, said that if the case ends up in court and it is stripped of its name it could have far reaching consequences.

“If they win this against us, they have a precedence to do this to others. We are in the process of aggregating the other comic-cons around the country,” Brandenburg told The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.

He added that they had collected information from around 50 other organisations that also use the “comic con” term, including New York Comic Con.

“Precedence for the mark was set when Denver Comic Con received a trademark for their convention [in November],” he said, adding that “no-one owns the words ‘Comic Con’”.

Salt Lake Comic Con has until August 6 to respond formally to the letter.

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