Among all the Comic Con news that comes out this time of year, one bit of news that hasn’t been getting as much attention but is much more far-reaching in its implications is the legal battle between the San Diego Comic Con International (CCI) and the Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC). For those who haven’t heard, Salt Lake Comic Con is one of the newest kids on the Comic Con block. It started in 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah, yet it’s already one of the largest in terms of attendance. It had over 70,000 attendees its first year and from then on has been drawing crowds of over 100,000. That’s around 30,000 short of what the Comic Cons in San Diego and New York are pulling in, but still impressive enough to be the third largest Comic Con in the United States in 2014.
Last year, San Diego Comic Con International filed a lawsuit against Dan Farr Productions, the company that runs the Salt Lake Comic Con. There’s a lot of legal back-and-forth I don’t want to get into here, but the main arguments can be boiled down thusly: CCI told SLCC to cease and desist the use of the words “Comic Con” in their name, as people might confuse them as being associated with the CCI. Now, this is somewhat understandable, since I imagine most people don’t realize that all the various Comic Cons out there aren’t actually associated with each other. Most people just don’t think about the business aspect of it. SLCC countered that the “Comic Con” label was merely descriptive, seeing as there are over a hundred Comic Cons around the world, all run by different people/companies. In fact, the term can be traced back to a 1968 “comic convention” that was held in England, two years before the first CCI took place.
Recently, Dan Farr Productions was given a significant boost to their case’s credibility, when the U.S. Patent and Trademark office awarded them the trademark to “Salt Lake Comic Con.” However, San Diego Comic Con International hasn’t given up and the case looks like it will almost certainly head to court.
If you ask me — and the following is just my opinion, I am not a lawyer or anything resembling one — I don’t think that San Diego’s case holds any water. They’re apparently singling out Salt Lake Comic Con, yet there are dozens and dozens of other Comic Cons around the country, and indeed, the world. Why is CCI singling out just Salt Lake when it should be suing all of them? Most likely it’s to set a precedent. Salt Lake is new, so it doesn’t have the same established fanbase that others do that might rally around it and drum up public support. Also, it was still very successful, so it’s got more visibility than most other Comic Cons. If San Diego does win, they’ll have the force of legal precedent to go after every last Comic Con in the United States and force them to either change their name or pay through the nose for the use of the term. That would be great for San Diego, but not so great for fans. Because let’s be honest, while there might be confusion with mistaking other Comic Cons as being affiliated with San Diego, “Comic Con” is a pretty generic term in the eyes of most fans, telling them what sort of experience they can expect at a convention. Most fans don’t care who’s running a convention, just as long as they can get their fix of panels, cosplay, meeting celebrities, and huge exhibitor halls.
If you want more and more detailed information about what’s been going on for the past year or so, the Salt Lake Comic Con has been keeping a pretty detailed (and obviously biased towards themselves) compilation of arguments and news articles about the suit on their website.
So what do you think? Are you in favor of San Diego or Salt Lake? Does that question seem a bit too much like a rivalry between sports teams to you too? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Business Wire