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San Diego Comic-Con defends its trademark in court

The San Diego Comic-Con currently attracts 130,000 people to its annual convention in California, and a jury decision has affirmed that the term “comic con” is a trademark that belongs to the event’s organizers. Comic-Con International had filed a suit in federal court against the Salt Lake Comic Con for infringing upon its rights to use the term.

Comic-Con International had been provoked to take legal action against the infringement after the Salt Lake City organization advertised its own “comic con” heavily outside the convention in downtown San Diego. Prior to the lawsuit, the organization issued a cease-and-desist letter to the founders of the Salt Lake City event, but they ignored it.

During the trial, the attorney for Comic-Con International argued that the organization had invested resources for 50 years into building its brand around the comic-con trademark. The attorney for the defendant asserted that comic con represented a generic label used by many conventions around the country. A founder of the Salt Lake City Comic Con wrote on Facebook that 140 entities nationwide are currently infringing on the term if it was indeed a trademark. The organization plans to appeal the case.

A person or organization confronted by trademark infringement might experience financial loss because of the dilution of brand identity and loss of business to infringing rivals. When someone needs to defend a claim to intellectual property, such as a trademark, patent or copyright, an attorney could take actions to halt the activity and pursue damages. An attorney could build the case by documenting the person’s registration of original works and symbols as well as the revenue associated with the intellectual property. Although private negotiations managed by an attorney might result in a settlement, a formal lawsuit and trial could become necessary.