A few weeks ago, we reported on a cease and desist letter sent by Comic-Con International, the company behind San Diego Comic-Con, to Salt Lake Comic Con, a second year convention from Utah that drew 70,000 people to its first event. At the time, SLCC responded to the cease and desist by sending out a press release and publishing the letter, resulting in negative media attention for SDCC. SLCC co-founder Bryan Brandenburg told The Outhouse that he believed SDCC would back off after talking to SLCC's attorneys, but that SLCC would fight "until we prevail." He also pointed out that SLCC's spinoff convention Fan Xperience trounced CCI's Wondercon last year, saying, "We also had our 2nd event the same weekend as their Wonder Con and we had record attendance over 100,000 and they did poorly." It looks like this fight may make its way to court, as Comic Con International filed a lawsuit last Thursday.
In the suit, SDCC claims that Salt Lake Comic Con's "actions have caused, and will continue to cause, irreparable harm to [San Diego Comic-Con] and to the public which is deceived as to the source and sponsorship of [San Diego’s] goods and services." It cites an event in which SLCC tried to send a customized car to San Diego Comic Con advertizing their convention, as well as an interview where Brandenburg reportedly said, "the term ‘comic con’ is kind of like Xerox, it’s a generic brand... but we knew that there was a brand equity associated with the phrase that we could capitalize on, being the only comic con in our market." CCI also took issue with SLCC's use of the phrase "comic-con is coming to Utah," though Brandenburg denies using the hyphen. Finally, CCI appears to be none too pleased with SLCC's distribution of their cease and desist letter to the press.
Though Comic Con International holds the trademark for the phrase "comic-con" (note the hypen), there are conventions using the abbreviation "comic con" all over the world, including the very prominent New York Comic Con. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and what long term effects it will have on the other conventions. We'll keep you posted.