July 30, 2014

Comic-Con v. Comic Con: the Age of Trademark Infringement

by Guest Blogger

Brace Yourself Trademark

Nerdom reigns supreme. Want proof? Comic-Con. A place where grown men and women routinely dress up as their favorite fictional characters and let out their inner fangirl or boy without fear that some jock is lurking around the corner.

Comic-Con International took place over the weekend in San Diego. The hallmark Comic-Con event drew record crowds as the creative teams and stars behind many of today's most popular television shows and movies descended on Ron Burgundy's hometown.

One group of attendees, however, was not so welcome at the event. Organizers from the upcoming Salt Lake City Comic Con (notice the lack of a hyphen) made the (star) trek to San Diego with a promotional Audi and planned to use it for photo ops with celebrities scheduled to attend the Utah-based event. In turn, counsel for the San Diego Comic Convention ("SDCC") sent a letter to the Salt Lake City organizers demanding they "cease and desist" using "Comic Con" in their name.

SDCC holds a federally registered trademark on "Comic-Con" with a hyphen, which bestowed certain (super)powers on SDCC related to the mark. Notably, SDCC abandoned efforts to trademark "Comic Con" without a hyphen in 1995. This created a form of kryptonite organizers of similar events may use to fight off the powers SDCC received when it obtained the mark "Comic-Con." Indeed, hundreds of events use the "Comic Con" moniker and at least one event has prevailed against SDCC's attempt to prevent the use of "Comic Con" in the past. If the dispute results in litigation, the outcome could create a precedent that will lead to the destruction of all events using the name Comic Con that are not sanctioned by the SDCC.

Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice . . . Can the Comic Cons make peace? Will they reach a resolution in time to prevent mass hysteria within the nerd communicty? Only time will tell. Until then, trust in the Justic League (and the judicial system).

(Shoutout to Chris Woodruff from Select Actuarial Services for playing the Robin to our Batman in suggesting we blog about this topic.)

The lawyers at Trademarkology provide trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to begin the process of protecting your brand name with a federally registered trademark.