In a ruling with wide-ranging implications for the multi-billion dollar fan events industry, a jury in San Diego today decided in favor of Comic-Con International (CCI), the nonprofit that has run the iconic San Diego Comic-Con for nearly 50 years, in its long-running battle with Dan Farr Productions and Bryan Brandenburg, organizers of Salt Lake City Comic Con, over the use of the term “comic con” (or comic convention) as a descriptor for a pop culture fan event.
The jury decided that the Comic Con mark is valid and that Salt Lake City used it in a way likely to cause confusion to customers. The case was heard in Federal District Court in San Diego over the past two weeks. The jury had been deliberating since Thursday morning, when both sides concluded their final arguments. SDCC was asking for $12 million in damages, but the jury only awarded $20,000 for corrective advertising because they found the infringement not to be intentional.
Courthouse News reports:
The much-anticipated verdict against Salt Lake (Utah) Comic Con creates legal precedent for San Diego Comic-Con to pursue trademark infringement claims against the more than 140 other “comic cons” around the country, which are using the trademark without the San Diego company’s permission. During closing arguments Thursday, San Diego Comic-Con’s attorney Callie Bjurstrom of Pillsbury indicated her client may do just that. She said San Diego Comic-Con has the “right to decide who to pursue and when” but that it was pursuing “the worst offenders first.”