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Others use 'comic con' name too, SL organizers argue in trademark battle

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News/File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Comic Con is citing multiple comic and pop culture conventions across 10 states that also use the name "comic con" in its defense through the ongoing trademark battle with San Diego Comic-Con.

The 13-page response filed Monday in Southern California's U.S. District Court denied the bulk of San Diego's claims, including that its name violates the trademark the West Coast convention holds on the title "comic-con," with a hyphen.

The non-exhaustive list of conventions includes Baltimore Comic Con in Maryland, Pittsburg Comicon in Pennsylvania, and Rose City Comic Con in Oregon, all of which remain uncontested by the flagship convention in San Diego.

"(San Diego Comic-Con) has allowed competitors and consumers to use the words 'comic con' or 'comic-con' as the generic name for comic conventions," the filing states. "The general public understands the words 'comic con' or 'comic-con' to refer generally to a comic convention and does not associate these words with any particular source of such conventions."

Salt Lake Comic Con went on to argue that San Diego has no basis for the lawsuit considering it abandoned its bid to trademark "comic con," without a hyphen, in 1996, and that San Diego Comic-Con's business has not been damaged by the Salt Lake operation. The lawsuit also requests that the four existing trademarks held by San Diego Comic-Con be canceled.

San Diego Comic-Con's 2014 event was underway when it sent a cease and desist order to Salt Lake Comic Con on July 26, ordering the fledgling event to drop "Comic Con" from its name, website and all promotional materials.

Salt Lake organizers came out swinging, calling accusations of trademark violation "baseless" and launching a social media campaign that garnered instant support from fans. The San Diego lawsuit alleges that the effort, including a designated section on Salt Lake Comic Con's website providing updates on the case, was intended to "create a media frenzy and reap the publicity benefits for their Salt Lake Comic Con convention in September."

Weeks later at its second annual Salt Lake Comic Con event, the Utah convention easily passed its goal of 120,000 attendees, continuing its steady growth and approaching the 130,000 guests that San Diego Comic-Con regularly attracts.

Salt Lake Comic Con organizers believe they came into SDCC's sights with their near-instant success in the past year.

Salt Lake Comic Con attracted 72,000 guests to its inaugural event last fall and had 100,000 at its FanX convention in April.


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