After several disputes, cease-and-desist orders, and failed settlement negotiations since the summer of 2014, the battle of the comic cons is finally going to trial. On Tuesday, opening statements and the jury selection process are scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court in California, regarding the San Diego Comic-Con’s trademark lawsuit against the Salt Lake Comic Con. Comic-con, which is short for Comic Convention, are the words at the core of this legal battle, as well as who has the right to use them. San Diego Comic Con has trademarked the term “comic-con” (with a hyphen between “comic” and “con”), meanwhile Salt Lake Comic Con does not use a hyphen in their name and is standing their ground, countering that the term “comic con” is generic.
The San Diego organizers refer to several other comic convention events across the country that use the term “comic con” and have not been subject to any that “We’re going to defend ourselves . . . . We don’t think we’ve done anything wrong.” Representatives from San Diego Comic-Con have, on multiple occasions, declined to make any comments on the upcoming litigation. litigation because of it. Salt Lake Comic Con’s co-founder, Bryan Brandenburg, recently told FOX 13 of Salt Lake City.
The San Diego Comic-Con has been running strong, developing a fan base of millions since its debut convention on March 21, 1970, although they did not start using the phrase “Comic-Con” in their name until another event that was held August 1-3, 1970. Salt Lake Comic Con on the other hand, is a relative rookie to the comic convention arena, just debuting on September 5-7, 2013, but still amassing a large and continually growing fan base as well. Over the next two weeks, a federal jury will hear the case and render a judgment as to who is able to use the words “comic con” and if any entity owes any money damages. Witnesses scheduled to testify will include organizers of other comic cons, as well as Brandenburg and Dan Farr.
The verdict of this lawsuit will have a major impact on this section of pop culture, as “[i]t’s not just Salt Lake City, it has implications for the entire industry, and it’s a big, big industry right now,” stated by Rob Salkowitz, who is an author and consultant specializing in entertainment and fan events. Salkowitz also mentioned that “[e]verybody else in the business is going to be governed by this ruling when it comes down.” Regardless of whoever wins this trial, it is highly expected that it will not end here. Whichever party loses the trial will most likely appeal the verdict to a higher court.