Leave a Comment
San Diego Comic-Con is unquestionably the most famous and popular comic book convention in the world - but the company behind the event has recently found itself in court involved in a very interesting trademark dispute. In an upcoming case that will be going to trial in November, it will be determined whether the phrase "Comic Con" is considered generic in modern society, or if San Diego Comic-Con has exclusive rights to it as part of their name.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the conflict in the middle of this case is between San Diego Comic-Con (which also operates Anaheim, California's WonderCon) and Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenberg - the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con in Utah. The larger organization is claiming that Salt Lake Comic Con is infringing on SDCC's trademark, and it has been decided that a jury will ultimately decide the ruling.
As you can probably assume, there will be major ramifications regardless of the outcome of this case. If Dan Farr and Bryan Bradenberg are found innocent and "Comic Con" is legally made a generic phrase, we could start seeing a lot more comic conventions freely taut that wording in advertising. If San Diego Comic-Con wins, however, the exact opposite will be true. Sal Lake Comic Con is not exactly the only existing convention that freely uses the shorthand, and a ruling in favor of SDCC would establish precedent and put the rest of those events in trouble. That would wind up affecting a lot of people.
There has been a good amount of back and forth already in this case, as U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia has heard arguments from the opposing sides. And both have definitely offered up some good points so far. For example, not only is there proof of past trademarking the phrase "Comic Con," but an expert testifying on behalf of SDCC presented a survey that shows that 82 percent of participants recognized Comic-Con as a specific brand. That being said, the judge has also recognized the ubiquity of "comic cons" in almost every state, which is part of what has allowed the stand-off to get this far.
As noted earlier, the trial is set to start in earnest in a little over a month, as the case is scheduled to go before a jury in November. Considering that comic cons are part of our annual coverage here at CinemaBlend, we will definitely be keeping an eye on this case and following the arguments and developments as updates become available. We may not get the chance to hear much more about it until the the courts are filled and in session, but stay tuned here on the site for the latest news about this important pop culture case.