As Comic-Con International kicks into full gear, its lawyers have sent a letter to Salt Lake Comic Con demanding that organizers stop using the term "Comic Con."
In the July 25 cease-and-desist letter, attorney Peter K. Hahn asserts that Comic-Con International holds the trademarks to "Comic-Con," "Comic Con International" and "Anaheim Comic-Con," and that Salt Lake Comic Con is infringing on those rights.
Salt Lake Comic Con organizers responded today with a press release characterizing the notice as a challenge to "hundreds of comic conventions around the country and the world already using the words comic con for their show."
However, the Comic-Con International letter is a more narrowly focused, insisting that the Utah convention, which drew about 70,000 people to its inaugural event in September and reportedly more than 100,000 to its April spinoff FanXperience, is targeting the same exhibitors and attendees as the San Diego show.
The letter states that fans seeing the "use of 'Comic-Con' in connection with your convention will incorrectly assume that your convention is in some way affiliated with SDCC and its Comic-Con convention. [...] In fact, we are aware of multiple instances where persons have incorrectly believed that the Salt Lake Comic Con convention was an SDCC event."
It also cites a "skinned" vehicle being used to promote Salt Lake Comic Con this week "in the vicinity of" Comic-Con International, calling it "clear evidence that you are blatantly and willfully attempting to confuse attendees, exhibitors and fans." Hahn demands that organizers immediately discontinue use of "Comic Con," "Comic-Con," "Comiccon" or any other "confusingly similar variation," and suggests they instead go with FanXperience or Salt Lake Comic Convention.
Salt Lake Comic Con organizers pledged to fight what they called a "frivolous action."
"San Diego Comic-Con attempted to trademark 'Comic Con' in 1995 and the application failed," co-founder Bryan Brandenburg said in a statement. "Furthermore, precedence for the mark 'Comic Con' was set when Denver Comic Con received a trademark for their convention on November 26, 2013. Nobody owns the words 'Comic Con' (short for comic convention) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office has already ruled on this."
However, it's important to note that a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does show San Diego Comic Convention, the corporate name of Comic-Con International, as the registrant of "Comic-Con," "Anaheim Comic-Con," "San Diego Comic Con" and "Comic Con International," among other marks.
"We are the registered owner of the Comic-Con trademark and confusingly similar variants," David Glanzer, Comic-Con International's director of marketing and public relations, said in a statement to CBR News. "When confusion arises with regard to our name, we are obligated to protect our mark."