SLCC/FanX Gets A Stay On $4 Million In Legal Fees For SDCC Pending Appeal
from the by-a-thread dept
The whole saga of the trademark dispute between the famous San Diego Comic-Con comics convention and the smaller Salt Lake Comic Con has been a long and stupid one. Despite everyone with a working brain knowing that the term “comic-con” is both generic and descriptive, SDCC has a trademark on the term that it managed to wield like a legal sword attempting to slay SLCC. While a jury trial returned only a $20k judgement, the court then awarded $4 million in legal fees in favor of SDCC, arguing that SLCC’s legal team attempted to jam up the trial process and timeline with its tactics. After all of this, SLCC changed its name to FanX, a whole bunch of other conventions proactively changed their own names, and FanX promised to appeal everything.
But it was an open question if SLCC/FanX would survive long enough for the appeal to take place. A $4 million dollar payout to SDCC, according to SLCC, would simply have crippled it and put it out of business altogether. This was the argument made to the appeals court, in which SLCC/FanX asked for a stay on the payments pending the appeal process. Fortunately, the court agreed to delay the attorney’s fees payments.
With the judgment set to come due Oct. 22, FanX organizers sought a stay from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week, arguing paying the bill in full now would “destroy” the business, hurt Utah’s economy and prevent them from continuing with their appeal.
However, organizers argued that if they were allowed to wait to pay, FanX would be able to continue operating and, if they ultimately lose their appeal, they could pay the judgment in full.
In FanX wins the appeal, the judgment could be invalidated.
And not just that, but FanX is also seeking to have the entire verdict that resulted in this award appealed as well, arguing that its lawyers were prevented from making sound arguments that “comic-con” is a generic term, which it absolutely is.
But two things should be immediately obvious. First, this stay is perfectly just. A legal fees award that would cripple a party from defending itself on appeal is the sort of thing that seems purely outside the realm of how the legal process is supposed to work. The second is that this attorney’s fees award is absolutely just as bonkers as I claimed it was when it was announced. To have that kind of number in fees awarded attached to a judgement that was in the five figures breaks all barriers of simple common sense.
At least this way, we’ll get to see FanX take this to appeal.