Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Occasionally on Scene Before I talk about conventions. To be specific I talk about my experiences at certain cons that I go to or I simply announce that I’ll be present at a particular con. This post will have a focus on conventions, but it’s a bit more law based as opposed to what I usually do. Recently, there was a lawsuit involving two conventions, and even more recently, there was a court case for this. Let’s introduce both sides of the situation.
*Cue “The People’s Court theme*
First off we have San Diego Comic-Con, AKA the original Comic Con. Established in 1970 as the Golden State Comic Book Convention, this event became the one of the largest and most well known fan conventions in the US and on the planet. The event has gone by multiple names aside from Golden State Comic Book Convention since its inception. These names include San Diego Comic Book Convention and a name that the convention goes by today, Comic-Con International: San Diego. Despite mentioning that recent name, the convention often goes by the names Comic-Con, San Diego Comic-Con, and SDCC. This convention has a focus on comics, sci-fi, fantasy, TV, movies, etc. In fact, this convention often features celebrities you wouldn’t usually find in many other conventions and considering its popularity, this con is known for revealing material such as trailers for upcoming content at panels. When tickets go on sale for this, there’s no messing around. They sell out pretty much instantly. This year they sold out a little over an hour of going on sale. The organizers of SDCC, Comic-Con International, are also the organizers of Wondercon, held annually in Anaheim, CA.
Next up we have Salt Lake Comic Con. First held in September of 2013, this convention is held semi-annually. The convention goes by two names and one event in terms of when it’s being held comes before the other, Salt Lake Comic Con, as recently mentioned, and the Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience. What’s the difference? Salt Lake Comic Con tends to focus more towards science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and superheroes whereas FanXperience tends to focus on fandoms that aren’t traditionally found at most comic book conventions. This event is so outside the box to my knowledge that in 2016, Buzz Aldrin, the 2nd man to walk on the moon, appeared as a guest! These events, regardless of whether it’s just a traditional comic con or FanX, brings in tons of people whenever it’s held and it shows no sign of slipping in the future. Interesting fact, on September 25, 2015, when the third Salt Lake Comic Con was held, a world record was broken here. That record by the way happened to be the most costumed comic book cosplay characters in one location.
These two recently had a battle in court. How did this all start? On July 25, 2014, San Diego Comic-Con International sent a cease and desist letter to Salt Lake City Comic Con over its use of the words “comic con.” Dan Farr Productions, the organizers of Salt Lake City Comic Con, responded saying that this can affect tons of other conventions. Salt Lake was unwilling to go through with the cease and desist letter thus beginning a legal battle. I wouldn’t say Salt Lake is wrong when it comes to this case possibly affecting other “comic cons.” Just look at how many “comic cons” there are:
- Rhode Island Comic Con
- Boston Comic Con
- Granite State Comicon
- Emerald City Comicon
- New York Comic Con
- Delhi Comic Con
- Colorado Springs Comic Con
- Phoenix Comicon
- Motor City Comic Con
- Denver Comic Con
- Alamo City Comic Con
- Silicon Valley Comic Con
- Baltimore Comic-Con
- Tampa Bay Comic Con
- Nottingham Comic Con
- Wildcat Comic Con
- Big Apple Comic Con
- Comic-Con Russia
- Wales Comic Con
- Oz Comic Con
- Mumbai Comic Con
- Bangalore Comic Con
Yes, some of these events are referred to as Comicon and are altered slightly in terms of name to separate themselves from other events, but the point is, the use of comic con is pretty much as common as putting cheese on a pizza!
Leading up to the court case, Salt Lake Comic Con pointed out the same statement I recently made, “comic con” is a popular term used in names of conventions around the world, and they pointed to more than one hundred events in the US which use the term.
Once the case concluded, San Diego Comic-Con International released the following statement which I happened to find in an article for FOX 13 Salt Lake City:
“San Diego Comic Convention has used the Comic-Con trademarks in connection with our comics and popular arts conventions for almost 50 years. We have invested substantial time, talent and resources in our brand resulting in world-wide recognition of the Comic-Con convention held annually in San Diego. The jury today upheld San Diego Comic Convention’s trademarks as valid. The jury also found that Dan Farr Productions, Daniel Farr and Bryan Brandenburg each infringed San Diego Comic Convention’s marks. San Diego Comic Convention respects the decision of the jury. From the beginning all that we asked of the defendants was to stop using our Comic-Con trademarks. Today we obtained a verdict that will allow us to achieve this. For that we are grateful.”
Let’s dissect this from each important point. First, they point out that they “used the Comic-Con trademarks,” which I’ll mention once again, is used on tons of other conventions, which leads me to a serious question. Wanna trade? Oops, sorry, I mean, when did you f*cking trademark the term?! Next, let’s talk about the jury’s decision to verify the “comic-con” trademark as valid. Who was in this jury? Was it people who have only been to San Diego Comic-Con and not other conventions? Was it a bunch of jocks who have never gone to a con? Was Mike Pence in that jury? Was Casper the Friendly Ghost in that jury? Was Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” in that jury? Was Ogre from “Revenge of the Nerds” in that jury? I don’t know if it was all nerds, in fact, based on the results, I don’t think that would have been possible, because I talk to nerds on Thursday nights and we were discussing this legal battle, they thought comic con is a term used in so many conventions now that it’s absolutely pointless for San Diego to do what they’re doing. One of the last parts of the statement contained this: “all that we asked of the defendants was to stop using our Comic-Con trademarks.” Sure, maybe in one way that’s not asking a lot, because it was a simple request, but following up on that request is an absolute impossibility in all reality. It’s almost like saying, despite being a convention that has similarities to San Diego, not to mention just about ANY comic book convention that has ever existed, it can have a name that a high fraction of these types of conventions use. Also, my biggest question is this: If San Diego is so upset about their f*cking trademarks being used by someone else, why are they so concerned about Salt Lake? Not to mention, Salt Lake isn’t completely identical to San Diego in terms of their trademark. Note the difference: San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Like Comic Con. Can’t see it? San Diego has a dash, Salt Lake doesn’t. Let’s also observe the last sentence concerning San Diego’s response to the verdict: “For that we are grateful.” Allow me to respond with eloquence…
OK good, this thing’s on.
You may be grateful, but you may have just turned the entire convention game upside down! If you are the convention that everybody loves, you would be supportive of the influence you have on the convention community! At the time of San Diego’s inception, there was nothing like what they had going for themselves. Now they’ve spawned an enormous number of conventions to the point that it’s extremely hard to visit them all. You know one reason why I go to Rhode Island Comic Con more often than San Diego Comic-Con? It’s closer to me! These conventions have expanded to the point where anyone in the world can conveniently go to them. Granted, nerds everywhere may consider going to San Diego Comic-Con their version of a pilgrimage, but in all seriousness, you’ve got to consider how we don’t have the time, gas, money, or complete motivation to go to your convention. There are other options out there! This is why they make multiple brands of soda. Coca-Cola isn’t the only thing around, there’s also Pepsi! In fact, this is why they make multiple flavors of soda! It doesn’t have to be plain, it can be cherry, vanilla, or orange!
One of the biggest purposes of conventions (aside from loading celebrities up with cash) is to unite people together in one place. This isn’t just applicable to only “comic-cons,” but also gaming conventions, anime conventions, brony conventions, all of that stuff. We’ve gotten to this point where San Diego is saying that they literally started this craze (to be fair, they did technically) and for that, they think they can get away with taking LITERAL OWNERSHIP of a name that’s so popular around the world that doesn’t just apply to them. It’s like if the Beach Boys said that “Boys” was a trademark to them forty years after they started performing. Groups like the Backstreet Boys, Boys II Men, and the Beastie Boys are would have freaked the f*ck out if this happened! If this were between San Diego Comic-Con and another convention that has the EXACT SAME NAME, I’d be more understanding of this, but as far as this goes now, this is ludicrous.
One big question behind how this all came about is literally, how did this come about? I will remind you that Salt Lake was sued on July 25, 2014, which is almost a year after the first Salt Lake Comic Con happened, and also a few months after the first Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience happened. Is this all because of the FanX event occurring? After all the primary focus of FanX is to think outside the box and include other aspects to a convention other than anything that’s comic related. The event is technically called the Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience, maybe instead of telling Salt Lake to change its name entirely, just tell them to eliminate the “comic con” from their FanX title. However I wouldn’t do that, I’m not an asshole that forces people to do things that they probably don’t want to do.
Another thing I’ll mention is that according to the FOX 13 article that I’m using as a reference for this post is that Salt Lake Comic Con used SDCC’s trademark “without permission.” Is the article stretching this statement? Possibly, I can’t be sure, I wasn’t one of the people doing jury duty as this case was going on, but this s*it is bonkers! What other “comic con” needed “permission” from SDCC or Comic-Con International to give their specific event an identical name to San Diego’s? This is determining a convention’s name, not asking a student’s parents through a slip they have to sign if they allow their kid to watch a R rated film in class for educational purposes!
To sum it up, San Diego Comic-Con started out as a place for nerds to unite. Now, they’ve become the jocks that are stepping on the territory of other conventions that are trying to do the same thing. Being a nerd is about inclusion, it’s about tolerance, it’s about respect for yourself and those around you. To say that you are the kings of conventions isn’t exactly an improper thing to say, but to say that someone can’t be like you NAME-WISE on something as basic as a small part of your name that’s used WORLDWIDE, is a load of crap. For a portion of my life, there was a part of me that always wanted to attend San Diego Comic-Con, because it has always come off as the ultimate nerd convention, now that they’re essentially being an asshole to another convention that probably wouldn’t have even existed today if it weren’t for SDCC, I wouldn’t say I’m off their radar entirely, but I’m skeptical of whether I truly want to take a trip there in the future. I love conventions, I love nerdy things, I love sci-fi, superheroes, fantasy, all that stuff, but I’m not sure I’m loving San Diego Comic-Con as much as I once was, which leads me to this…
San Diego Comic-Con, why do they call you a con? Oh yeah, because you’re a f*cking cheap con! You know what? After my experience of watching “Anchorman,” I’d say Ron Burgundy was right about the origin of San Diego, let’s change your name to A Whale’s Vagina Comic-Con! It almost seems that this naming fiasco has you out of line, but don’t worry, if there actually is a line in this circumstance, I’m sure it’s not as long as any of the lines during your convention! Also, I’ll remind you to get back in line, and once you do, there’s no cutting allowed, you already did that to Salt Lake Comic Con’s name! I wonder what’s next for you and changing things around, perhaps making certain celebrities not show up because they may have heard about the name situation and they disagree with the final verdict? Well I guess that means we have our next “Star Wars” movie! San Diego Comic-Con, I’m a huge nerd, I have been all my life. All I want to do is make things the best they can be, and to do that I have to sometimes be tough, so if you think you can exclude me from your convention in the future just because I said some stuff you might find to be harsh, I’m sorry, you can’t do that “without permission.” Whose permission you ask? My f*cking permission, you morons!
If I don’t go to San Diego Comic-Con in the future, that’s fine, I’ve got plenty of other conventions to go to that are cheaper, closer, and perhaps even less crowded. New York Comic Con is a beast in terms of size which kind of intrigues me, so maybe I’ll go there in the future. Thanks for reading this post! Later this week I will have my review for “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi,” which I will be seeing opening night, so I’ll have the review up not long after it releases. Look forward to that and stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, have you been to San Diego Comic-Con? What are your thoughts on it? Have you been to either Salt Lake Comic Con or the Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience? What are your thoughts on either of those? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!