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Old 07-27-2014, 05:25 AM   #1
Evergreen City
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Thumbs down Should San Diego Be Allowed To Trademark The Name Comic Con?

Read this, then comment. IMHO, this is bs.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/8...nd-desist.html
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Old 07-27-2014, 05:37 AM   #2
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It is a rather ludicrous position for them to try to take, given that they were denied trademark on "Comic Con", and the term has been used by countless other conventions over the years already, some of which they have already tried (and failed) to stop from using it. If it goes to court, I cannot imagine that SDCC will win. They are probably just trying to intimidate them into dropping the term from their name to avoid the cost and effort of going to court in the first place.
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Old 07-28-2014, 04:05 PM   #3
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Personally, I think San Diego should be able to trademark "Comic Con" because it is truly riding the coat tails of the established brand name of San Diego "Comic-Con." The NFL is allowed to trademark "Super Bowl" and I'm sure that includes "Super-Bowl." Let's be real, the reason why these start conventions use "Comic Con" in their convention name is to draw attention and have the illusion that they are affiliated with SDCC.

When anyone says I'm going to "Comic Con" it's generally assumed it's SDCC.

However, I don't think the SDCC organizers will be able to trademark "Comic Con."
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Old 07-28-2014, 05:26 PM   #4
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they shouldn't be allowed to trademark just "Comic-con", there/their/they'res like a Comic-con in almost every city and they can't sue'em all but they could trademark "San Diego Comic-con" and get away with it
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Old 07-28-2014, 05:37 PM   #5
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Here's what I don't get. They want to trademark "Comic Con", but that's just a shortening for Comic Convention. So not sure how they would or should be able to trademark the name of a function that literally takes place at thousands of areas worldwide. So I guess if they trademark went through, all those "Comic Cons" would become "Comic Conventions" ?
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:37 PM   #6
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Let's be real, the reason why these start conventions use "Comic Con" in their convention name is to draw attention and have the illusion that they are affiliated with SDCC.
Really? You don't think that it could possibly be that they are comic conventions, and the WIDELY accepted abbreviation of conventions of ALL sorts is "con"? What would other comic conventions be called if this wasn't allowed? You can't reasonably keep them from using the term "comic" in their name, and while you could theoretically force them to use the full term "convention" on all official documents, nobody would actually refer to them as such, because "con" IS a widely used, generic abbreviation for convention.

No, I think the term is obviously a generic description, and it is laughable that SDCC thinks they can trademark it in the first place (though stupider things have been allowed as trademarks in the past I expect).

In this case, though, they don't have a legal leg to stand on, I wouldn't think, because the term is so obviously one that has been in wide usage, and they have already failed in the past when challenging its use by other cons.
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Old 07-28-2014, 11:27 PM   #7
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Really? You don't think that it could possibly be that they are comic conventions, and the WIDELY accepted abbreviation of conventions of ALL sorts is "con"? What would other comic conventions be called if this wasn't allowed?
I understand how the terms "comic" and "con" seem genetic, but term "Comic-Con" is an established brand name in the sense that you tell the average comic book fan that you're attending "Comic Con" is generally assumed that it is San Diego Comic-Con. I mean, if you look at all the articles, press release and other media coverage of the events and information coming from San Diego, it's typically something like "from 'Comic-Con'." Thus, establishing a brand name. If you Google "news from Comic-Con" most likely every link in the search result will be related to San Diego "Comic-Con." Therefore "Comic-Con" is not really a genetic or general term as it relates to a very specific event.

There are other comic conventions that do not use "Comic Con" in their titles such as C2E2, BigWow Comic Fest, Comikaze, SuperCon, BotCon, Star Wars Celebration, etc. You can use Fest, Expo, Celebration, i.e. Salt Lake ComicFest, Salt Lake Comic Expo, Salt Lake City Comic Celebration. There are alternatives.

If the organizers of Comic-Con had the foresight for trademarking the term "Comic Con" like the NFL did with the "Super Bowl" it wouldn't sound so ridiculous.
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Old 07-28-2014, 11:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Darth_Primus View Post
I understand how the terms "comic" and "con" seem genetic, but term "Comic-Con" is an established brand name in the sense that you tell the average comic book fan that you're attending "Comic Con" is generally assumed that it is San Diego Comic-Con. I mean, if you look at all the articles, press release and other media coverage of the events and information coming from San Diego, it's typically something like "from 'Comic-Con'." Thus, establishing a brand name. If you Google "news from Comic-Con" most likely every link in the search result will be related to San Diego "Comic-Con." Therefore "Comic-Con" is not really a genetic or general term.

There are other comic conventions that do not use "Comic Con" in their titles such as C2E2, BigWow Comic Fest, Comikaze, SuperCon, BotCon, Star Wars Celebration, etc. You can use Fest, Expo, Celebration, i.e. Salt Lake ComicFest, Salt Lake Comic Expo, Salt Lake City Comic Celebration. There are alternatives.

If the organizers of Comic-Con had the foresight for trademarking the term "Comic Con" like the NFL did with the "Super Bowl" it wouldn't sound so ridiculous.
I think it WOULD still sound ridiculous, but maybe that's just me.

Sorry, just because there are alternatives doesn't make it non-generic. And the fact that New York Comic Con, Chicago Comic Con, etc. exist gives the lie to the idea that it is in any way exclusive to SDCC. And even the list you gave includes other names that include "con" which just provides evidence that "con" IS a generic abbreviation for convention.

If somebody told me they were going to "Comic Con" I would likely ask them which one, and might possibly assume they were going to whichever one was closest. But I confess that could just be because I'm not a big con-goer.

The Super Bowl isn't really comparable, as there is nothing about the term "Super" that would be said to generically apply to all Football games. It would be more like if they tried to trademark the term "Football Game".
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Old 07-29-2014, 12:28 AM   #9
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I understand "con" is generic, but "Comic Con" is not because it's a specific event and known entity. Again, if you Google "news from Comic Con" or "Comic Con exclusives" it relates to the comic convention in San Diego.

San Diego "Comic-Con" was established in 1970 where there were no other conventions like it anywhere, so thus is created/coined the phrase "comic con." At that point, if the organizers trademark the phrase "Comic Con" none of these other conventions would be able to use it.

The problem is that the organizers are trying to retro-actively trademark the name, but are failing.

As far as "Super Bowl," it is a register trademark so you can't have the Salt Lake "Super Bowl," like they have for Salt Lake Comic Con.

Seriously, these other conventions really don't want to distinguish themselves from original "Comic Con" because name recognition and ease of marketing.

I mean, why not start a smart phone/table company called "Apple Devices" or comic book store called "Portland D<space>C Comics?"
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Old 07-29-2014, 04:06 AM   #10
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Eh, I still think this case is different, since the term "Comic Con" is made up of two generic terms which are both literally descriptive of the events in question. "Apple Devices" might be made of two generic terms, but "Apple" is not a LITERAL description for the devices in question. The events in question are undoubtedly, literally Comic Conventions, and "con" as a generic abbreviation for convention was not originated by SDCC. Just because they were the first comic convention does not, IMHO, entitle them to trademark the generic descriptive term "comic convention" nor variations that simply differ by using a generic, generally accepted abbreviation for one of the words (said abbreviation pre-dating SDCC's use of it). I find it a bit sketchy that they were able to trademark the term even by putting a dash in the middle of it, but I suppose that is sufficiently unique from the standard spelling to qualify.
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Old 07-29-2014, 03:11 PM   #11
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they probably see it as a cash grab wich is why they would love to trademark it
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Old 07-29-2014, 03:17 PM   #12
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I think this is silly, and almost like trying to trademark "concert" while preventing all other musicians, bands and comedians from using the word on their tours. If SDCC is really a Non-profit Organization (which they continually claim to be), they shouldn't care about trademarking the name. After all, it's not like they're making money from it... allegedly. If they want to trademark SDCC, I get that, but to take "ComicCon" and any variation therein away from other cities that have similar shows is ridiculous.
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Old 10-31-2017, 01:08 AM   #13
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The gag order is off. Case goes to trial later this month.

https://www.deseretnews.com/article/...amendment.html
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Old 10-31-2017, 01:48 AM   #14
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I still can't fathom how they think they will win this case, since they have already failed in the past, and there are quite obviously many, many other existing conventions that use the term "Comic Con". I can't quite figure out why they think this is a smart use of their funds...
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Old 10-31-2017, 03:52 PM   #15
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I read a story a while back abut how Johnny Grant, a semi-celebrity in the 50s and 60s who somehow got himself named "honorary mayor of Hollywood," once demanded that the city of Hollywood FL change its name -- even though Hollywood FL was an incorporated city and Hollywood CA wasn't! Of course the city officials in Hollywood FL laughed at his silly ass.

And Spike Lee once demanded that Spike TV change its name. They laughed at his silly ass too.
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Old 12-06-2017, 07:50 PM   #16
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I still can't fathom how they think they will win this case, since they have already failed in the past, and there are quite obviously many, many other existing conventions that use the term "Comic Con". I can't quite figure out why they think this is a smart use of their funds...
The article notes that if SDCC wins this case it will ultimately affect other conventions using the term "Comic Con."

Since I work in the world of litigating and protecting intellectual property, patents, trade secrets and trade marks, it very understandable why SDCC believes they have a case.

Now, prior to the creation of SDCC, there wasn't the term "Comic Con." So, if anyone said the comic con before the existence of SDCC no one would have a clue to the meaning of the term. As such, SDCC secured trademark rights to the term. So with that in mind, "Comic Con" is actually a brand name rather than a description of an event like the "Super Bowl" or a generic word like "concert."

To make a comparison, the term "coke" has been widely used as a generic term to mean soda. But in reality, "Coke" is a brand name. So, if a company in Utah decided to sell a soda and label it "Salt Lake City Coke" is would be infringing on the trademarked "Coke" brand. Another example is the brand name "jacuzzi" which is often used as a generic term for hot tub. A company wanting to sell it's product with the "Salt Lake City Jacuzzi" would be infringing upon the brand name trademark.

To simply put it, you have to think of "Comic Con" as a brand name (that SDCC created) not as a description of an event. Which newer conventions have noted in naming their conventions as a "fanfest" or something similar.

To me, it's obvious these smaller conventions are trying to capitalize on SDCC's brand name and reputation. I've looked at the complaint in this case and that's exactly was SDCC citing in their lawsuit. Noting that the merchandise and promo materials for Salt City Comic Con are using very similar logos to SDCC.

And if these smaller conventions put out an inferior product and create bad press, it's very likely to have a negative effect on SDCC and ruin their good name.

So, the lawsuit by SDCC is about protecting their brand name, maintain their right to exclusively use the term they created and to make sure that brand name is not water down by other conventions using it.
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:09 PM   #17
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Coke and Jacuzzi STARTED as brand names which became somewhat generic in general usage, but demonstrably were NOT generic in origin, and neither of them are literal descriptors of the items in question, but derive their meaning wholly from their origins as brand names. Comic Con is a term made up of two generic terms that predate their usage together, and which are both literally descriptive of the item they reference.

You say "you have to think of "Comic Con" as a brand name not as a description of an event", but you only "have to" do that if you are trying to side with SDCC. Thinking of it that way is not at ALL the natural thing to do, IMHO, given that it IS LITERALLY the description of the event, using generic terms. SDCC WANTS us to think of it as a brand name, but to my mind if that was their original intent, then they shouldn't have used a term that was so generically descriptive. To trademark a term like that isn't akin to trademarking "Coke", but more analogous to somebody attempting to trademark the term "carbonated beverage" AFTER both those words had established, generic, descriptive meanings.

You say it is "obvious" that the smaller conventions were trying to capitalize on SDCC's name and reputation. I don't find that obvious at all. Have they admitted as much? Frankly, even if they have (which I find unlikely) it doesn't seem like a very successful strategy to me, given how generically descriptive the term is.

If I see something referred to as "fill-in-the-blank Comic Con", I think it is a Comic Book Convention associated with whatever "fill-in-the-blank" is, be it a location or other organizing entity. I don't think of SDCC at all unless "San Deigo" is what fills in the blank.
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:24 PM   #18
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Here's an article that seems to sum up my view on the matter, and provide some examples. Their examples are specifically of attempts to trademark things following the pattern "generic, literally descriptive term".com, but the principle seems identical to me, given that "con" as a standard abbreviation of "convention" is just as generic as ".com".

http://www.mbbp.com/news/generic-trademark
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Old 12-06-2017, 09:25 PM   #19
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That article points out that term "escalator" and "aspirin" were created to serve as marks but they were widely used and evolved into generic terms. And thus, the creators lost the ability to trademark the terms.

That's the underlying crux of this litigation, to prevent the term "Comic Con" from evolving to a generic term. Which, from your comments, is already the situation. And really that's the problem SDCC is facing; that "comic con" is being used as a generic term.

Moreover, you contention is that "comic con" is a generic term as the roots of the phrase are derived from generic words like "comic" and "convention." And that you should only consider "Comic Con" to be a brand name if you want to side with SDCC.

However, would term "comic con" be in existence without SDCC? Would term be understandable without SDCC?

My argument is not based on siding with SDCC, but rather inline with my occupation as noted above. If the term "Comic-Con" was truly a generic term than the could not have been registered as a trademark. Basically, I'm pointing out that "Comic-Con" is a registered trademark. That's a fact, not an opinion. And as a registered trademark, it should be considered a brand name like "Coke" or "Jacuzzi." And that's why I said you have to treat the "Comic-Con" as a brand name as it IS a registered trademark. Therefore, unlike the article you posted, the term "comic con" did not pre-exist like "hotel.com" or "mattress.com" so the facts are not exactly the same.

Comic convention is the equivalent of musical concert. So, if smaller or startup conventions wanted to name themselves "Salt Lake City Comic Convention" there are no legal or infringement issues. And using "Comic Convention" is just as descriptive, if not more than "Comic Con."

Now, I'm sure the Salt Lake City Comic Con will use your argument that "comic con" has become a generic term. And moreover, their convention name establishes a distinction from SDCC because the full name of their convention is "Salt Lake City Comic Con."

I'll be following the verdict of this case.

For the record, I'm not siding with SDCC per se, but rather siding on the legal right to protect intellectual property and trademarks granted by the government against infringement.
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Old 12-06-2017, 08:48 PM   #20
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Ultimately, though, the thing I find most baffling is SDCC continuing to try to enforce a trademark that they DON'T legally possess, and have been specifically rejected from establishing in the past, especially when they have failed numerous times in previous attempts to enforce it. Not only is general legal precedent on attempts to trademark generic terms against them, but legal precedent specifically involving their attempts to enforce this one.

Even setting what I see as common sense aside, I cannot fathom why they think THIS attempt to enforce a trademark they don't actually own is more likely to succeed than all their other attempts that ended in failure.

It makes sense to me when companies repeatedly spend money successfully defending a trademark they DO own against infringement, because as I understand it that is necessary to maintain it. I just can't see why anybody would think it was a good use of funds to keep trying to "defend" a trademark that they legally do NOT own, despite repeatedly failing each time.
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Old 12-06-2017, 09:45 PM   #21
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Ultimately, though, the thing I find most baffling is SDCC continuing to try to enforce a trademark that they DON'T legally possess, and have been specifically rejected from establishing in the past, especially when they have failed numerous times in previous attempts to enforce it. Not only is general legal precedent on attempts to trademark generic terms against them, but legal precedent specifically involving their attempts to enforce this one.

Even setting what I see as common sense aside, I cannot fathom why they think THIS attempt to enforce a trademark they don't actually own is more likely to succeed than all their other attempts that ended in failure.

It makes sense to me when companies repeatedly spend money successfully defending a trademark they DO own against infringement, because as I understand it that is necessary to maintain it. I just can't see why anybody would think it was a good use of funds to keep trying to "defend" a trademark that they legally do NOT own, despite repeatedly failing each time.
I'm not sure where you getting the idea that SDCC doesn't legally own the "Comic-Con" trademark. Could you please provide the source of that information?


Here's an article that notes the that Court ruled against the founder of Salt Lake City Comic-Con's claim that the term "Comic-Con" being is a generic term before the creation of SDCC.


San Diego Comic Con succeeds on several motions in trademark infringement case against Salt Lake City Comic Con event organizers

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Sept 24, 2017


The nonprofit organization presenting the event was incorporated in 1975. To protect its rights to the Comic-Con moniker, the San Diego entity registered a series of trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These include U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3221808, which covers an illustration including eyes, shaded squares and the word mark “OFFICIAL COMIC CON AFFILIATE” for use in organizing and conducting conventions in the fields of animation, comic books and popular art. The San Diego Comic Convention also owns U.S. Trademark Registration No. 3219568, which covers the standard character mark “COMIC-CON” for use on video on-demand and audio-visual on-demand transmission services.

The recent order entered in the Southern California case denied Dan Farr Productions’ motion to exclude testimony from an expert witness testifying for plaintiff San Diego Comic Convention while also granting a motion by San Diego to deny an expert presented by Dan Farr. Dan Farr tried to argue that San Diego’s expert witness, which included the results of a Teflon survey on the generic nature of the term “Comic-Con”, as such evidence only matters in genericide cases and not where the trademark was generic prior to the owner’s use. However, the defendant’s own pleading in the counterclaim, where it asserted a defense of generic mark, and the court found the evidence to be relevant to the case.

For its part, San Diego moved that the testimony of a linguistics expert on the generic nature of the “comic con” term should be excluded, and San Diego won that motion. The report completed by this expert included several arguments in favor of the defendants including ongoing discussions of the term online, non-capitalization of “comic con” in some instances and the ubiquitous use of the term by 102 similar conventions. The court found that this expert’s testimony wasn’t relevant in light of the fact that Dan Farr’s motion to exclude San Diego’s expert argued that the term was generic before the first use in 1970.

The defendants also lost on a motion for summary judgment for genericness and abandonment, an argument with which the Southern California court took exception.

...


Further, the court noted that the Ninth District has not recognized an ab initio theory of defense in such matters. “For Defendants’ benefit, the Court highlights that even if it were to entertain a generic ab initio argument, the evidence produced by Defendants would fail to satisfy their burden.” Dan Farr argued that semantics information from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and books published before the first San Diego Comic Con in 1970 demonstrated the generic nature of the mark but the court rejected breaking down the “Comic-Con” mark into individual parts and noted that the 2002 OED entry for “con” was a new entry. As to Dan Farr’s genericide argument, the court denied San Diego’s motion for summary judgment against this defense in part because “evidence of over 100 competitors using the unhyphenated form of Plaintiff’s trademark” which strongly suggested that the mark was generic. However, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on genericide was also denied because the results of the Teflon survey provided enough evidence that consumers believed that the term “Comic-Con” was a brand name and not generic.
As noted above, the case is whether or not the term "comic con" is considered a brand name or a generic term by the public as the court ruled against the notion "con" was a genetic term prior to the creation of SDCC in the 1970s as it cited the "con" term wasn't entered into the dictionary until 2002.
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Old 12-06-2017, 09:59 PM   #22
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They own the "Comic-Con" trademark, but according to the original article, they added the dash in the middle because they had specifically FAILED to trademark the term "Comic Con" without the dash.
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:09 PM   #23
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The grammar in that article is atrocious, by the way. To the point that some of the sentences are totally indecipherable.

"Dan Farr tried to argue that San Diego’s expert witness, which included the results of a Teflon survey on the generic nature of the term “Comic-Con”, as such evidence only matters in genericide cases and not where the trademark was generic prior to the owner’s use."

That is not a complete sentence. Neither is the following:

"However, the defendant’s own pleading in the counterclaim, where it asserted a defense of generic mark, and the court found the evidence to be relevant to the case."

Both seem to be missing a chunk in the middle that would make the meaning clear (and the grammar correct).
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:12 PM   #24
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Is Salt Lake using "Comic-Con" with the dash? If so, that would go a long way to explaining why SDCC thought they had a case HERE, even though they have failed in all previous attempts (unless I missed a story) at enforcing trademark against other Comic Cons.
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Old 12-06-2017, 10:20 PM   #25
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Further research makes me suspect that the reason why SDCC is taking this case so far is that SLCC seems to be making the claim that even the trademark on "Comic-Con" should be invalid. If SLCC prevails, not only would they maintain the right to the name they are using, but would possibly void SDCC's trademark on the hyphenated term.

If that DOES happen, I will laugh, since SDCC would then be responsible for causing their own trademark to be voided by pushing this suit in the first place.
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