SALT LAKE CITY - The show will still go on.
Though San Diego Comic Con International sent a cease-and-desist letter to Salt Lake Comic Con late last week, claiming that “Comic Con” was too close to their trademarked “Comic-Con” and ordering them to stop using the term. Salt Lake Comic Con organizers are preparing their refusal, which they will send back by the Aug. 6 deadline, pointing out that hundreds of other conventions around the country use the term.
Though SDCC has threatened legal action, Salt Lake Comic Con organizers say it won’t threaten this September’s convention.
“It’s a long protracted process, and few of these trademark cases even go to trial,” said Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer. “They’re not going to get an injunction. There’s too much legal precedence.”
One example Brandenburg points to is the fact that, according to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, SDCC already tried to patent “Comic Con” in 1995. The process failed, leaving them to eventually abandon the attempt in 1999.
He also points to the fact that Salt Lake Comic Con is only one of dozens of conventions around the country to use the term “comic con.” SDCC’s attempt to get Salt Lake Comic Con to stop using the term would directly impact these conventions as well, potentially causing them to side against SDCC if the case really does go to court.
“In reality, what they’re doing is taking on the while comics convention industry,” said Brandenburg. “New York Comic Con is run by a 4 billion dollar company, and Dallas Comic Con is run by a 5 billion dollar company. By taking on the term, they’re taking on everyone else in the industry.”
But why pick Salt Lake to attack when so many other people are already using the term? Brandenburg points to this spring’s FanXperience, which was held at the same time as SDCC’s WonderCon Anaheim event. According to him, some of the celebrity artists that attended FanX cancelled their appearances at WonderCon in order to attend. Others simply didn’t attend the event, though they had the year before.
“SDCC called us last November, asking why we’d scheduled them at the same time,” said Brandenburg.
Then, at the recent San Diego Comic Con International, the convention got upset at Salt Lake’s plan to drive a convention-wrapped car through San Diego’s streets. When they threatened a cease-and-desist letter, Brandenburg and co-founder Dan Farr decided to stop the car in Vegas.
When SDCC sent the letter anyway, the car went on to San Diego.
“So much for goodwill,” said Brandenburg.
Now, he thinks SDCC has caught itself in a bigger situation than it meant to.
“I think they thought ‘Hey, we can threaten these guys privately,” he said. “I don’t think they saw it coming that we’d go so public.”