It’s the day of Comic-Con 2018 Badge Sales and many fans found out if they were naughty or nice this year. As expected, badges were sold quickly with the usual weeping and gnashing of teeth afterwards for those that weren’t so lucky. However, badge sales wasn’t the only Comic-Con related drama for the weekend. It was reported that the battle of trademark between San Diego and Salt Lake over ‘Comic-Con’ has finally come to a conclusion in favor of SDCC. Spanning a few years now, Comic-Con International was awarded $20k in damages instead of the $12 million they were asking since the jury deemed the trademark infringement was not ‘intentional’ by the organizers of Salt Lake. $12 million would have bankrupt any convention- so $20k while still a lot, it’s a slap on the hand in comparison. I’ve been getting a lot of messages asking my thoughts on this matter and fans seemed split on if this is a good thing or not.
It seems that the impulse from some is that the term ‘comic con’ is generic and broad enough in culture that it’s kind of unfair for Comic-Con Int’l to claim it. Some have called CCI petty and bullying in their desire to own this term. Since the con boom of just under a decade ago, there is now a ‘comic con’ happening almost every weekend of the year somewhere around the world- even though Comic-Con Int’l only owns SDCC and WonderCon. So how can one entity feel entitled to that prolific and illustrious title? Well, it’s easy. Quite simply, ‘comic con’ is theirs. Regardless of how much time has past, how many cons there are and who is the biggest, CCI is clearly responsible for starting and successfully establishing the brand ‘comic con’. I can assure you, Mr/Ms Comic-Con didn’t wake up a couple of months ago and on a whim, decided to draw up papers and sue a random con. After years of much discussion, negotiation and legal loop gymnastics, it was clearly time to officially reclaim their title. Established in 2013, Salt Lake Comic Con has had plenty of time to make changes to their name. It’s never fun (or seem fair) to be the first that is made an example of but I do agree with CCI and feel this has gotten out of hand.
I speak to fans more than almost anyone I know about the topic of Comic-Con. The NUMBER ONE misconception I encounter is that all comic cons are the same and run by Comic-Con International. As we all know, not all cons are made equal and the varying experiences hurt the brand of comic con. It’s not a matter of if it’s fair, its a matter of who was first. CCI has been gracious to allow other shows ride off of it’s coat tails (which EVERYONE has) and if they want to protect their brand, it’s well within their right. Should it have happened year ago? Sure. But as you can expect, trademarks and the legal system isn’t exactly simple, cheap or speedy. Salt Lake Comic Con didn’t do themselves any favors by openly stating their intentions to use Comic-Con’s momentum to benefit them.
As some of you know, I own and operate a small fashion brand. My hope and prayer is that it turns into a large fashion brand. That’s all up to how the brand is stewarded. My brand is my name and it’s suppose to mean something- hopefully something of value. It represents a message, an experience and a level of excellence. At the end of the day, without my brand, all I have is a pile of clothes. Protecting my brand is the number one priority in surviving in the marketplace. Whether you are a small merchandise company like me or a 130k+ attendee convention, without a crystal clear brand, the slope to mediocrity becomes very slippery. So say what you will about Comic-Con but I don’t think you can find an analogue example of how a giant brand can successful share it’s name with competitors. Do you know how much it benefits CCI to have other brands use its name? Nothing at all, but the same is not the true the other way around. So as painful as this is for Salt Lake (and soon to be others), this is an long overdue ruling. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out over the years and we will all have a front row seat to it. Who knows, this might mean Crazy 4 Comic Con is affected someday too. And if that’s the case, I’m sure I will find a different way to be crazy 4 comic con.
Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on this decision or how it will impact the con community.