‘Comic Con’ Term Use Debate

Settlement talks have stalled between organizers of two pop-culture conventions in California and Utah and judicial help was being sought June 27 in the ongoing battle.

Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP
– ComicCon2013Metallica
Metallica performs on the third day of the 2013 Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego July 19. The band was on site to promote its new concert film-plus “Metallica Through The Never” and share footage with fans.  

Officials with the San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con are asking a judge to decide the debate over use of the “comic con” term.

If the federal judge in charge of the San Diego case doesn’t rule for either side, the case could go before a jury later this year. Salt Lake has already spent nearly $1 million legal fees on the case.

San Diego Comic-Con officials have said the Utah organizers’ position is without merit.

The San Diego convention, established in 1970 and cosplay “Mecca” for attendees, filed a trademark violation lawsuit against the Salt Lake Comic Con, launched in 2013, in August 2014.

California organizers claim they have legal ownership of the term “comic con” in all its forms, and the name of the Salt Lake event is so similar that people will think the events are affiliated. Salt Lake officials claim “comic con” is a general term used by similar “comic book conventions” around the country and the lawsuit is a way to take down an upstart competitor with growing attendance.

An online search brings up other events using “comic con” in the name in cities including New York City, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago and Los Angeles. San Diego organizers allegedly argue in court documents there are many other similar events that don’t use those words.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office reportedly hasn’t weighed in on the subject. Salt Lake officials claim they have found evidence from San Diego’s past trademark battles that could make a difference in their case.

A hearing is set for Sept. 21 but may be rescheduled. The Salt Lake event starts that day.