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Unconventional Con-fusion over Comic-Con

A cloud looms over this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. And it does not come from super-villains wanting to vanquish a team of masked heroes as part of their plan for world domination.

The battle over “what’s in a name” is all too real.

Flashback to ten years. The San Diego Comic Convention applied for and obtained a trademark registration for “comic-con.” Initially refused by the trademark examiner for being descriptive, SDCC executive director Fae Desmond submitted a successful declaration proving that the term had "been used continuously and exclusively in interstate commerce... for over 36 years."

In a fight over a possible “ret-con” of the decision, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg of the Salt Lake Comic Con are being sued by their California-based counterpart for trademark infringement. Utah’s pop culture dynamic duo asserts that “comic-con” is a generic term that is commonly used at fanfests throughout the country, specifically Chicago, New York and Detroit.

SDCC is countering with a survey revealing that 82 percent of respondents consider “comic-con” a brand name. In addition, they are proudly showing propaganda at this year’s event in the form of their trademark policing efforts. The display features 144 cease and desist letters, 289 eBay takedowns, 41 USPTO letters of protest and more.

The condition of the documents are not known, but assumed to be in very good to mint condition.

While throwing out a demand by SDCC that Farr and Brandenburg stop claiming that their the annual mega-event is the “Lex Luthor” to their “Superman,” a judge is preventing both sides from making claims via social media that the other side is lying or committing fraud.

The stakes are high as two sides seek to resolve their issues. For now, a comic book-like cliffhanger awaits a resolution.

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