Salt Lake Comic Con might drop ‘comic con’ from its name

Posted at 5:06 PM, Dec 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-15 19:28:17-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- After losing their legal battle with San Diego Comic-Con over who can use the words "comic con," the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con said they are considering renaming themselves.

A jury last week found San Diego Comic-Con does hold a trademark on the term, but also ruled Salt Lake organizers Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg did not willfully or intentionally violate it. They awarded San Diego $20,000 in damages, significantly less than the $12 million the event wanted.

Cosplayers at the 2016 FanX in Salt Lake City. (Image submitted to FOX 13)

"It's very likely we will appeal," Brandenburg said in a recent interview with FOX 13. "In the meantime, we're probably changing our name to 'FanX' and putting on one or two shows next year."

"FanX" is the name of the popular celebrity-focused event that Salt Lake Comic Con puts on each year.

In court, Salt Lake Comic Con's attorneys argued the term "comic con" is generic, pointing to more than 100 other events nationwide that use it. (Salt Lake Comic Con still has a challenge to San Diego's trademark pending with the U.S. Trademark Office.)

"It's not just about us," Brandenburg said. "We've tried to communicate we're doing this for the little guy."

FOX 13 reached out to a number of other comic cons about whether they would change their names as a result of the litigation. Many would not respond or refused requests for comment.

"We haven’t seen anything issued from the Court or the jury other than what has appeared in the press. Until there is a final disposition of that case, we will reserve comment. Nevertheless, we expect there to be no impact on our continued use of the New York Comic Con name for our annual event now well over a decade in existence or use of any of our other proprietary event names," ReedPOP, which puts on New York, Chicago and Emerald City (Seattle) comic cons, said in a statement to FOX 13.

A FOX 13 viewer-submitted photo from the 2015 Salt Lake Comic Con.

Boston Comic Con renamed itself "Fan Expo Boston" more than a year ago, but a spokeswoman for the event said it was in response to ownership changes and unrelated to the legal battles between San Diego and Salt Lake comic cons. Rose City Comic Con in Portland announced in late November that it had struck a licensing agreement with San Diego to use the name.

"Rose City Comic Con received the license at no additional cost to the show, and acknowledges the trademark owned by San Diego Comic Convention and is excited to affiliate itself with the prestigious event," the organization said in a statement.

If Salt Lake Comic Con does change its name, Brandenburg acknowledged it would likely stick.

"Even with our name change, it's likely we won't change our name back to 'Comic Con,'" he said.