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SALT LAKE CITY — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that FanX can wait to pay a $4 million judgment as it appeals the "comic con" trademark lawsuit it lost at trial.
A jury in San Diego last December found that the original name of Utah's pop culture and comic convention, Salt Lake Comic Con, had violated San Diego Comic-Con International's trademark, but ordered that the company pay just $20,000 of the $12 million damages San Diego asked for. Following the verdict, the convention dropped the trademarked term and adopted the name of its smaller event, FanX.
Calling the case "exceptional" and decrying the organizers' legal strategy, U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia later ordered FanX to pay its opponents' nearly $4 million legal bill. FanX was also ordered to abandon potentially irretrievable web addresses and to delete online posts that used the term.
With the judgment set to come due Oct. 22, FanX organizers sought a stay from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week, arguing paying the bill in full now would "destroy" the business, hurt Utah's economy and prevent them from continuing with their appeal.
However, organizers argued that if they were allowed to wait to pay, FanX would be able to continue operating and, if they ultimately lose their appeal, they could pay the judgment in full.
In FanX wins the appeal, the judgment could be invalidated.
In addition to appealing the costly judgment, FanX is challenging the verdict that brought it about, including claiming attorneys representing the Utah company were wrongly barred from arguing at trial that the term "comic con" was being used generically long before San Diego secured rights to the phrase.