After first responding with press releases and a webpage, Salt Lake Comic Con organizers have now formally denied claims that their use of the term “Comic Con” infringes upon Comic-Con International’s trademark.
Comic-Con International sued the Utah event last month, insisting organizers were attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of “Comic Con.” The lawsuit specifically cited a customized Audi sent to San Diego during Comic-Con International to promote the Sept. 4-6 Salt Lake City convention.
In documents filed Monday in federal court in San Diego, Salt Lake producers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg argue Comic-Con International’s asserted trademarks are invalid, and that “comic-con” and “comic con” are generic terms applied to comic conventions. They point to 10 other conventions that use some variation of the term, and note that SDCC has never taken action against them. The defendants ask for Comic-Con International’s trademarks to be ruled invalid and canceled.
Comic-Con International, which owns the trademarks for “Comic-Con,” “Comic Con International” and “Anaheim Comic-Con,” accuses Utah organizers of capitalizing on its “creativity, ingenuity and hard work” by using the term “Comic Con” to promote their event. Calling SDCC’s lawsuit “aggressive” and “frivolous,” Farr and Brandenburg have characterized the action as not only a threat to Salt Lake Comic Con but against “all conventions that use a variation of Comic Con.” They argue that no one holds the trademark to “Comic Con,” with no hyphen.
Although the conflict between the two events became public in July with Comic-Con International’s cease-and-desist letter, tensions reportedly date back several months, to when Salt Lake organizers announced their FanXperience spinoff for the same weekend as WonderCon. Brandenburg contended that was the only opening available at the Salt Palace Convention Center, and that WonderCon hadn’t yet publicized its dates.
While Farr and Brandenburg haven’t been shy in publicizing the dispute, Comic-Con International organizers have remained relatively quiet on the matter. In July, spokesman David Glanzer issued a statement to Comic Book Resources that read, “We are the registered owner of the Comic-Con trademark and confusingly similar variants. When confusion arises with regard to our name, we are obligated to protect our mark.”