Are These Emails a Smoking Gun for Salt Lake Comic Con in Battle with San Diego Comic-Con?

Last week saw the opening arguments in the court case between San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con over the "Comic Con" trademark being watched by all sorts of people. Most of whom run conventions with the words "Comic Con" in the headline in some form or other. We managed to give a summary last week, but a few more details have escaped, at least from the San Diego Comic-Con side that illustrate some of their case against Salt Lake. You can read much of it on Salt Lake Comic Con's own site, but there are more details that emerged last week.

Such as the citing of 2013 e-mail from the organisers of Salt Lake, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, appearing to trade on the San Diego mark, saying:

I wanted to follow up to discuss our opportunity this week to leverage the
San Diego Comic Con to help people relate more to our event.

I just feel the more we can leverage San Diego to boost our brand here the


It may be a good time to get us on the news again to discuss
the show so they associate us with San Diego.

They seem to be treating this as some kind of smoking gun, proving their case. And stating further that:

Defendants further spoke freely and openly of their plan to "hijack" the SDCC brand as they ventured onto the comic convention scene, a brand that was created through SDCC's decades-long use of and investment in its COMIC-CON marks. Mr. Brandenburg went so far as to admit that "hijacking the Comic Con brand" was part of Defendants' "magic formula."  According to Mr. Brandenburg, the word hijack means "taking something and using it for your own purposes."

Much of the other charges and details can be read in the ICV2 summary, but this seems to be a new tack, with correspondence as evidence. As well as citing the use of a Salt Lake Comic Con-plastered car to drive around San Diego during the show, they also bring up confusion that came their way.

Further instances of confusion manifested during and after Defendants' Salt Lake Comic Con convention held in September 2014. SDCC received several phone calls from persons who attended (or attempted to attend) Defendants' convention complaining about their abysmal experience. (Id.) SDCC also received numerous emails from disenchanted patrons complaining about Defendants' convention and asking for refunds. One consumer urged SDCC to "do everything you can have to have Salt Lake Comic Con separate themselves and their version of business from yours. I bought tickets believing it was the original, as did many others." Another chastised SDCC because "I waited in your Salt Lake comic con line for almost 3 hours tonight, and never even got in the door! What the Hell!! I sent messages to your Salt Lake City personnel and it appears as if nobody here cares!" Yet others asked SDCC for a refund due to their poor experience at the Salt Lake Comic Con convention."

A tactic designed not only to demonstrate confusion in the marketplace but having a side benefit of quoting a few people saying how terrible their experience of Salt Lake Comic Con was. Tricky…

Are These Emails a Smoking Gun for Salt Lake Comic Con in Battle with San Diego Comic-Con?

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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