Jury Rules In Comic-Con Trademark Case

The jury for a trademark lawsuit filed by San Diego Comic-Con against Salt Lake Comic Con ruled Dec. 8 for the plaintiff on use of the “comic con” phrase.

courtesy SDCC

The jury decided that Salt Lake event producers Daniel Farr and Bryan Brandenburg did use the trademarked phrase without permission but not intentionally. The jury awarded San Diego Comic-Con officials $20,000 in damages. The lawsuit was seeking $12 million, which included $9 million for an advertising campaign to clear up any confusion.

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. The San Diego event’s attendance has been more than 135,000 including celebrities and studio officials promoting projects.

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.

“This case is about stealing, taking something that is not yours, something you have no right to. It’s about right, and it’s about wrong,” SDCC lawyer Callie Bjurstrom said in her closing arguments.

 Salt Lake officials have said they will appeal the decision, claiming their event, that attracts about 120,000 people, hasn’t affected SDCC or caused any confusion as to whether the events are affiliated.