Salt Lake Comic Con's Trademark Battle with San Diego Comic Con Uncovers Conflicts of Interest In Utah

Let's see if we can join some dots. Here is a headline from yesterday's Deseret News of Utah.

Salt Lake Comic Con's Trademark Battle with San Diego Comic Con Uncovers Conflicts of Interest In Utah

Which, this morning, had become:Salt Lake Comic Con's Trademark Battle with San Diego Comic Con Uncovers Conflicts of Interest In Utah

Though the URL,, stays the same. The original text, opened:

Following a social media post seeking to rally fans near the end of a jury trial in a long-running trademark dispute, a federal judge threatened to throw one of the founders of Salt Lake Comic Con in jail if he strays during his testimony. While jurors in the case were out of the courtroom Wednesday, attorneys for San Diego Comic-Con read a Facebook post from the Salt Lake event to U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia, speculating the remarks could be a deliberate attempt to cause a mistrial.

"I think this is a highly inappropriate post," said attorney Callie Bjurstrom. "It is just a complete attempt to taint whoever they can reach."

The post announced that Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Bryan Brandenburg will take the witness stand Wednesday to show that "comic con is owned by the people, by all the fans that experience the joy and celebration of comic con in cities all over the world."

Battaglia prohibited such arguments during the trial based on objections from San Diego. He warned that if Brandenburg intends to make any such statements during his testimony, "tell him to bring his toothbrush with him."

"I will put them in jail if they violate this order. They are not to escalate this case into a war involving the world," Battaglia said.

In further updates, this was moved down the article, preferring to open with:

As he and his new business partner considered starting a comic and pop culture convention in Utah in early 2013, Bryan Brandenburg fired up his computer.

He reviewed websites of other events, news stories about their conventions and online industry forums discussing them all.

What he found, he testified in court Wednesday, was inconsistency.

Varied spellings, differences in website designs and functionality, and distinct logos and themes all led Brandenburg to believe the events spread all across the country were all independent of each other, and many identified themselves as "comic cons."

"It led me to believe we could call our company Salt Lake Comic Con," Brandenburg testified.

And the judge's summation, "The judge went on to say that Brandenburg's conduct has been 'outrageous throughout this case,'" was missing in the updated version.

Which is more newsworthy? Well, I'm sure you can be the judge of that. But it has been pointed out that Deseret News, owned by the Church of the Latter Day Saints, is part of the Utah Media Group. Utah Media Group is the production, advertising, and circulation arm of Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune, and also operates a portfolio of other Utah publications, and runs a number of events in the state as well. And SLCC show co-owner Dan Farr's website states that "Salt Lake Comic Con and its sister event, Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience are produced by Dan Farr Productions in partnership with Utah Media Group."

Which some might consider a conflict of interest. And always a reminder that one should always try to diversify one's reading choices — even Bleeding Cool!

Because Bleeding Cool is owned by Avatar Press. But you should know that by now.

slcc v sdcc -- Salt Lake City skyline by Joseph Sohm, San Diego skyline by JJM Photography

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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