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Epic battle brewing over competing Comic-Cons

We are used to seeing epic battles between super heroes. Batman and Superman had an epic fight in their movie; same with Iron Man and Captain America. With that, the irony of competing comic book conventions waging battle over a trademark seems too strange to be true, but an epic courtroom battle appears eminent.

The San Diego Comic Convention, the creators of the San Diego Comic-Con, is suing a Utah based production firm for its part in launching the Salt Lake City Comic-Con for using a trademarked term without paying licensing fees. The lawsuit claims that the Salt Lake City Comic-Con is unfairly capitalizing on the goodwill created by San Diego Comic-Con and will cause consumers to believe that it is tied to what is described to be the original comic book convention. 

The Salt Lake City Comic-Con countersued, reasoning that the term “comic-con” has become such a ubiquitous term that it no longer deserves trademark protection, which would alleviate the need to pay any licensing fees. In essence, they believe the term has been diluted through “genericide,” the process of a term becoming appropriated by the public that it becomes the generic name for a product.

Examples include aspirin, videotape, and Xerox. Even the term “google” has become such a recognized action that its trademark status is up for debate.

The question of which Comic-Con will prevail remains to be seen, but it exemplifies the need for experienced intellectual property attorneys to represent businesses when disputes arise.

The preceding is provided for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship. 

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Klein & Wilson

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