Update on SDCC-Salt Lake lawsuit

10 AUGUST 2014

Last month, during the flush of San Diego Comic-Con madness, CCI served Salt Lake Comic Con with a cease and desist order. But that's old news; this month they are suing them for monetary damages and an injunction demanding Salt Lake stop using “any combination, reproduction, counterfeit, copy or colorable imitation of the COMIC-CON marks in the marketing, promoting, advertising, offering for sale, or the sale of goods or services.”

CCI says: they did this on the principle that SLCC's name is confusing to the public and suggests an SDCC-SLCC alliance that doesn't exist. Basically, intellectual property infringement.

Salt Lake says: CCI lashed out because Salt Lake burst onto the scene last year like a boss, with their very first event attended by 78K and then over 100K at their next event. And because they drove a Salt Lake Comic Con Audi around San Diego during SDCC, which is the kind of guerilla marketing you'd expect from an audacious young upstart, but which CCI shouldn't have let bother them.

I know legal documents aren't always the most exciting reads, but the lawsuit is actually rather entertaining. I will highlight and hope that I don't get sued.

  • SDCC believes  that  in   2013, Salt    Lake   decided    to "capitalize  on  SDCC’s  creativity,   ingenuity and   hard   work   through  the  unauthorized    use    of    SDCC’s   trademarks    to    advertise    and    promote    Defendants’    own     popular    arts    convention   titled   “Salt    Lake    Comic       Con.” "           I        know         this       is           legalese        but          "Comic            Con"             seems         to          be        what         they're     referring          to        here.      See       below.

  • They     say    the    "extensive, unauthorized   use of    “Comic    Con”  (which   is   identical   to   or   confusingly    similar   to   SDCC’s COMIC-CON  marks)"     is    " intended   to suggest,   mislead   and   confuse   consumers into   believing that  the Salt Lake Comic Con convention   is   associated   with,   authorized   by,    endorsed   by   or   sponsored   by   SDCC."        They   don't     explain   why    this   argument   doesn't    apply   to  all  of   the   other Comic Cons     or    Comicons    in the   world.

  • " On   their     website    Defendants    advertise, market and    sell    merchandise      that     incorporates         SDCC’s         COMIC-CON        mark,     including         t-shirts,       sweatshirts, hats, blankets, bags, mugs,  phone cases,   flags,  key chains and much more. The    logos    affixed   by   Defendants   to such   items   prominently   display and   emphasize   the   COMIC-CON   mark, while   minimizing   any   reference to  “Salt  Lake.”     They    actually    say   "Comic   Con"   (no hyphen)  and   they   don't   look   even   close   to    the   SDCC    logo   to  my   eye.

  • Salt  Lake's    jaunty   response   toward  the   cease  and   desist   letter    seems   to   have   annoyed  CCI  as   well.   "In   a   further   effort  to   solicit   interest   in   their    convention   through   the unauthorized and   unlawful   use   of SDCC’s   intellectual    property, Defendants    invite   readers    to     propagate   their   skewed   accounting of    events,   by   “liking”   or commenting   on   various   publications   made or   driven    by   Defendants   regarding   the   dispute   in   exchange for   a    chance    to    win   a   pass   to   Defendants’   event.  Defendants    have   made   it clear in several   online publications that they do not intend to stop their unauthorized use and   infringement   of   SDCC’s   COMIC-COM   marks, but   instead   have brazenly   and   intentionally   continued    to   infringe  the COMIC-CON   mark   resulting   in   considerable   and    irreparable   harm   to SDCC."      Skewed    and  brazen!    I    hope   whoever   wrote  this   lawsuit   writes   our  badge  sale   emails.

  • They    are    concerned   that   the   "confusingly   similar  marks"   will   deprive   SDCC   "of    the    ability    to    control   the   consumer   perception  of   the   quality   of  the   goods   and  services"   and    basically   make   them   lose   control   of    their   own   reputation.    Which   is  a  legitimate  fear   or    would   be   if    Salt   Lake  actually    seemed   to   be  blurring   the    line.   I  just  don't  think  people   are  going  to  make   that   mistake.

So   let's   just  say   it,  IP   infringement    is   a  serious   matter.  But  it's   still   hard    to   see   what   Salt   Lake   is    doing   that    other   Cons    aren't,   other   than   their   stunt    with   the  Audi.   (You  can  see  it  here.   I'd  wager   it's   the  font  that  pissed  off CCI.)  They're   already   a   wildly   popular   event  and  clearly    don't  need  to   leech   off   San  Diego's  buzz;   and  their   branding  look  and  feel  is   nothing   like  SDCC's.    I   can't   imagine   this   lawsuit    doing    CCI   any   favors or   doing   anything   at   all    but   stirring   up   more  publicity   for   Salt   Lake   Comic   Con.

This   turned   out   to  be   such    a    contentious   year, didn't   it?

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