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Jury deliberating in San Diego Comic-Con vs. Salt Lake Comic Con trial

Posted at 1:58 PM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 23:56:40-05

SAN DIEGO -- A jury is now deliberating in a multi-million dollar trial pitting San Diego Comic-Con vs. Salt Lake Comic Con.

Closing statements were presented Thursday in a federal court in San Diego in the long-running trademark lawsuit between the two events. The jury will decide who to side with an whether any damages are awarded.

Attendees at the 2017 Salt Lake Comic Con. (FOX 13 file image)

San Diego Comic-Con attorney Callie Bjurstrom told the jury they wanted more than $12 million in damages, partly for a "corrective" advertising campaign to distinguish between the two events. She told the jury that Salt Lake Comic Con organizers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg tried to hijack the name, confusing the two events.

Bjurstrom showed the jury emails suggesting that it was part of Farr and Brandenburg's efforts to leverage San Diego Comic-Con's name for their benefit, calling their actions "deceitful, intentional and malicious."

"Comic-Con is a brand. Comic-Con is not generic, these defendants know that and they’ve always known that," she told the jury.

The heart of the case centers around the words "comic con" and who gets to use them.

San Diego Comic-Con sued Salt Lake Comic Con in 2014, accusing it of infringing on their trademark of the term. The California event sent a cease-and-desist order to Salt Lake organizers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg after they drove a car with their logos around the San Diego event.

Lou Ferrigno, Diana Terranova, Stan Lee and Salt Lake Comic Con Founder Dan Farr at the 2013 Salt Lake Comic Con. (FOX 13 file image)

Salt Lake Comic Con's lawyer told the jury the term is generic, showing the jury a map of other events that use the words.

"It means comic convention. The entire industry has grown up for 20 years, 140 events use that name," said Salt Lake Comic Con attorney Michael Katz.

Katz argued that in the minds of attendees to both events, there is no confusion about which comic con they're going to.

"My clients are not deceitful or malicious. We have done nothing wrong. We are here to clear our name," he said.

In rebuttal arguments, Bjurstrom reiterated to the jury that San Diego Comic-Con holds the trademarks.

“There is nothing innocent about what these people did. Innocent people do not hijack, steal or infringe upon the intellectual property of others," she said.

Salt Lake Comic Con organizers have previously told FOX 13 the legal battle will not affect their ability to put on the next event, which draws more than 100,000 people to the Salt Palace.

It is expected that the losing side in this legal battle will appeal.

Sharon Chen of FOX 13's sister station FOX 5 San Diego contributed to this report.