San Diego Comic-Con Wins Trademark Battle Over Salt Lake Comic Con – But is Only Awarded $20,000 Damages

Posted by December 8, 2017 Comment

It was the Con War to end all Con Wars. Until the appeal at least.

But San Diego Comic-Con has won the court case against Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the “Comic-Con” trademark, decided by jury. And they have decided that San Diego Comic-Con’s ownership of the Comic-Con and Comic Con International trademarks are valid. And so Salt Lake Comic Con used it without permission. This was a unanimous decision by the six remaining jurors.

The organisers of Salt Lake Comic Con, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg are likely to appeal, and expressed that intention previously on Facebook.

San Diego Comic-Con asked for $12 million to pay for a marketing campaign to drive some distance between the two shows. They have, however, only been awarded $20,000, which will be dwarfed by legal fees.

With this precedent now set, it is likely that other users of the “Comic Con” name who don’t have a deal worked out with Comic-Con International, the organisers of San Diego Comic-Con either will get a deal sorted out very quickly, or risk becoming targets themselves…

The trial was peculiar on all sorts of levels, depending which media sources you read, and the opening statements caused much discussion. But it seemed in the end it was an open and shut case.

Until round two of course. And then franchising this trial verdict to all the other Comic Cons out there. Turns out that this Con War may only have been the beginning…

salt lake comic con v sdcc -- Salt Lake City skyline by Joseph Sohm, San Diego skyline by JJM Photography

McKenzie Romero noted via Twitter the details of the findings of the jury as they were read in the courtroom. They have found that:

  • San Diego Comic-Con owns the mark and that the SLCC used it without permission.
  • The mark “Comic Con International” is valid and owned by San Diego Comic-Con, and that SLCC used it without permission.
  • The same is found for the eye logo, finding that Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, as individuals, and their company, Dan Farr Productions, used the trademarks without permission.
  • San Diego Comic-Con is entitled to $20,000 damages to pay for “corrective advertising” [this is well below the $12 million in damages that SDCC had asked for]
  • SLCC did NOT willfully infringe on SDCC’s trademarks.
(Last Updated December 15, 2017 5:45 pm )