The San Diego Comic-Con vs. Salt Lake Comic Con trial over the ownership and use of the “Comic-Con” trademark was won by San Diego Comic-Con and left the organisers Salt Lake Comic Con with a mighty bill to pay. Of course, they have options when finding the money, whether by a crowdfunder or digging deep into their own pockets, but it does seem there was another way…
Because the original lawsuit didn’t just name the organisers Dan Farr Productions, Daniel Farr and Bryan Brandenberg, but also the Utah company named Newspaper Agency Company. This body, now known as Media One Utah, partners in the Salt Lake Comic Con, and publishes — and is owned by — both the Mormon Church-owned Deseret News, and the Salt Lake Tribune, the former of which had some interesting coverage during the trial.
In order to settle and be removed from the court case, that they not challenge the validity of the trademarks claimed by San Diego Comic-Con, may not use the trademarks to advertise their own services, or — and this is telling:
“Newspaper Agency shall not publish any news stories, editorials or press releases authored by any other Defendant named in this action that mention or refer to any dispute between Plaintiff and any other Defendant named in this action, including but not limited to the trademark dispute that is the subject of this action.”
This seems to imply that they possibly may have before, and that this was at issue.
Certainly, searching Deseret News for Salt Lake Comic Con brings up over ten thousand results about the relatively new Salt Lake City Comic Con. In comparison, searching the San Diego Union Tribune for San Diego Comic-Con, which goes back 40 years, finds just over a thousand.
However, the settlement does agree:
“Newspaper Agency may incidentally use the COMIC-CON Marks in connection with the publication of independent news stories regarding comic conventions” and that they may “advertise the products and services of third parties by publishing third-party advertisements that include the COMIC-CON Marks.”
It’s a shame that the Salt Lake Comic Con organisers couldn’t have agreed a similar settlement before the million dollar trial…