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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