San Diego Comic Con Gets Gag Order On Salt Lake Comic Con

from the that-darn-court-of-public-opintion dept

As you may know, San Diego Comic Con is going on right now. And, like many techie/geeky people, while I've never attended the show, I always look forward to what comes out of the event. However, SDCC is increasingly looking like a massive censorial bully. A few years ago, we covered what we believed to be a fairly silly trademark dispute that SDCC had filed against the organizers of the Salt Lake Comic Con. We pointed out that trademarking "Comic Con" seemed silly and there was no problem with multiple Comic Con's happily co-existing. And, really, SDCC is the 800-lb gorilla here. It's the dominant comic con and has been for many, many years, as it seems to grow larger and larger. Other cities having their own comic conventions doesn't take away from SDCC (if anything they tend to reinforce the dominance of SDCC).

Last month, in covering some news about the case still going on, we added a long (longer than the post itself...) editor's note about the truly weird situation in which SDCC had sent us a ridiculous subpoena demanding (among other things) any internal documents ever mentioning SDCC and implying that we had some sort of business relationship with the organizers of the SLC event (to be clear, we have zero relationship with anyone involved in either event -- we just found a story written about the case and used that as the basis for our posts on the topic). We pushed back on SDCC and noted that it really appeared that their fishing expedition was an attempt to intimidate the press from reporting on this case. It was... really strange.

And now, with SDCC happening right now, the Hollywood Reporter has the latest on the case, in which SDCC has filed for one of the strangest legal gag orders I've seen in a while. I mean, I've seen these kinds of gag order requests filed by pro se plaintiffs, but rarely by competent lawyers working at giant famous law firms.

You can read the demand for a protective order here or below, and if I had to summarize it, it's basically: "it's no fair that Salt Lake Comic Con is getting good press coverage and we're being mocked, so the court should silence them." I read through the document and I kept expecting more... and... that's really it. They literally complain that they're losing in "the court of public opinion" and argue that it's somehow unfair that one side is talking about this case publicly and they should be barred from any further conversation. And, it gives some more context to the paranoid view that was clear in the subpoena we received: SDCC and/or its lawyers are so focused on the negative press coverage that they seem to assume that something more nefarious is going on... beyond the basic likelihood that lots of people think this lawsuit is over-aggressive bullying by SDCC.

Since the inception of this dispute, Defendants have brazenly engaged in a strategic public campaign to disparage SDCC and “win this case in the court of public opinion.” Defendants’ public campaign has included statements made in numerous press releases, news articles, on websites and on social media including Facebook and Twitter. Indeed, Defendants boast they have secured more than 200,000 media articles reporting on the case that are “favorable” to Defendants.

Um, so? I have no idea what's wrong with someone trying to get their story out when they've been sued -- especially by a much larger entity. While some people choose not to go that path, there's nothing illegal about telling your story when you've been sued -- and nothing wrong with the media picking up on the story. It's news.

SDCC goes on to claim that many of the statements made by the defendants in the case "are misleading, prejudicial, inflammatory or false." If that's the case, then go after them for defamation. Don't ask for a gag order.

Defendants repeatedly litigate their case by using media outlets to mischaracterize the parties’ positions and taint the public’s perception regarding the issues in dispute in this case. Defendants’ media campaign is increasing in intensity as this case nears trial. Defendants’ goal is to win this case by using media outlets to tarnish the reputation of SDCC and taint the jury pool. As Defendant Bryan Brandenburg stated in one of Defendants’ many press releases, “I am asking for support from the community and all the powers of the Universe to bring victory to us in this case.”

The "jury" tainting is the only aspect of any of this that seems to have a kernel of reasonableness -- but seems easily dealt with during jury selection, in which you ask the potential jurors if they're familiar with the dispute. Despite the supposed 200,000 articles on this (more on that in a moment...) I find it hard to believe that the average potential juror has heard about this dispute at all. Hell, we covered it and I had totally forgotten about it until we got that stupid subpoena (it was so ridiculous that I told the process server that he must have the wrong guy when he showed up at my front door).

From here, SDCC's high priced fancy lawyers then admit that this goes against the basic First Amendment protections anyone has... but argues that's fine and dandy because -- *gosh* -- some people are being mean to them online.

It is appropriate, however, to impose greater restrictions on the free speech rights of trial participants (such as parties and their attorneys) than on the rights of nonparticipants. Levine, 764 F.2d at 595. As the Ninth Circuit noted when considering a district court’s order restricting statements of trial participants, “several other courts have considered similar restraining orders. The overwhelming majority of those courts have upheld the restraining orders.” Id. at 596 (citing numerous cases in which restraining order on trial participants were upheld).

Now, it's important to look at the details of the case that they cite as precedent for why they can gag the people they sued: Joel Levine v. US District Court for Central District. First off, that was a criminal case, not a civil one, and it involved the lawyer for one of the people who had been charged with espionage talking to the press, and the court arguing that in certain circumstances, you could issue a very narrow injunction on this type of thing. But there are lots of conditions on that and it's hard to see how those conditions apply to a civil dispute -- and especially one where the civil dispute involves a large organization (SDCC) suing a smaller one (SLCC) and then trying to further silence the small one.

Indeed, the ruling in the Levine case specifically notes that because it's talking about lawyers the standards are different:

As officers of the court, court personnel and attorneys have a fiduciary responsibility not to engage in public debate that will redound to the detriment of the accused or that will obstruct the fair administration of justice. It is very doubtful that the court would not have the power to control release of information by these individuals in appropriate cases and to impose suitable limitations whose transgression could result in disciplinary proceedings.

But in this case, SDCC is trying to gag the actual defendants, not the lawyers.

Further, the Levine opinion makes it clear that there should be strict scrutiny applied before issuing such a gag order, as it clearly is prior restraint. From the opinion:

Accordingly, the district court's order may be upheld only if the government establishes that: (1) the activity restrained poses either a clear and present danger or a serious and imminent threat to a protected competing interest,... (2) the order is narrowly drawn.... and (3) less restrictive alternatives are not available

And, really, is "people are being mean about us online" really going to qualify as "a clear and present danger or a serious and imminent threat to a protected competing interest"? Come on!

The rest of the request for the gag order is basically "damn, the other side has been effective in telling their story to the press. That's so unfair."

Since the inception of this dispute, Defendants have engaged in a willful, open, and consistent strategy to win this case “in the court of public opinion.” See Edge Decl. Ex. 1, at p. 6. Through numerous press releases, articles, interviews with various media outlets, and the pervasive use of social media, Defendants (most notably Bryan Brandenburg) have been posting material and making statements that are designed to tarnish the reputation of SDCC and thereby influence the public (including the jury pool) regarding who should prevail in this litigation. In many instances, these statements are misleading, prejudicial, inflammatory, or false. Indeed, Defendants have made their strategy and intention clear from the outset. On August 11, 2014, shortly after the dispute between the parties began, Brandenburg commented extensively in an article in Inside Counsel titled “Salt Lake Comic Con founders fight back” with the subtitle “Use the court of public opinion to combat trademark infringement claims brought by the San Diego Comic-Con.” Id. The article paints Defendants as “David” to SDCC’s “Goliath,” and compares SDCC to Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor. Brandenburg is credited in the article with the following statement “[a]fter consulting with their lawyers, the team behind the Salt Lake Comic Con knew they had strong legal ground to stand on, but they didn’t want to go to court, they wanted to win in the court of public opinion.” Id. (emphasis added). Brandenburg is further quoted as saying “[o]ur strategy was, if we are going to spend legal fees vs. legal fees, we wanted to be creative. We put it out to the public, challenging the cease and desist letter publically.” Id. at p. 7 (emphasis added) (noting “anecdotally, the fans seem to be on the side of Salt Lake’s David rather than San Diego’s Goliath”).

Again, I'm trying to understand what the issue is here. Lots of people involved in court cases look to get support in the court of public opinion, but none of that really matters compared to the court of actual opinion: the court that is hearing the case. And, sure, the jury tainting bit is potentially an issue, but only if you really believe that the entire jury pool is going to be tainted by this. And that seems... difficult to believe.

Of course, the whole "200,000" articles bit is part of the effort to argue that this info is widespread... but the details there are... lacking. It appears the vast majority of those 200,000 are... because the Associated Press wrote about the case and it has 160,000 distribution partners.

Defendants boast that an article written by the Associated Press about this dispute was published in more than 160,000 news outlets worldwide and claim many media outlets have already declared Salt Lake Comic Con the winner in the court of public opinion.

Okay... well, I went looking for the AP stories on the case... and they're pretty damn balanced (as you would expect from the AP). Here's one from 2015 that seems unlikely to bias anyone:

Salt Lake City co-founder Bryan Brandenburg said the trademark announced Thursday will be decisive in the suit, but attorneys for the established San Diego Comic-Con disagree. The case appears headed for trial after settlement talks broke down earlier this month.

And a more recent article:

Settlement talks have broken down between the organizers of two pop-culture conventions in California and Utah known for guests' elaborate costumes, Salt Lake Comic Con officials said Tuesday.

Both sides are asking a judge to decide the contest over naming rights, said Bryan Brandenburg, co-founder of Salt Lake Comic Con.

"They want us to change our name," Brandenburg said. If the federal judge overseeing the case in San Diego doesn't side with either convention, the case could go before a jury later this year. Salt Lake has already spent nearly $1 million legal fees on the case.

Those are both snippets from longer articles, but hardly proof that a jury will be biased.

What about social media? SDCC whines that one of the organizers of the SLC event has 5,000 Twitter followers and the SLCC Twitter feed has 30,000:

Importantly, Defendants’ public campaign is not limited to press releases and contact with news media outlets. Bryan Brandenburg has waged war against SDCC on social media as well. Brandenburg uses his Twitter feed, which has more than 5,200 followers, to comment on the dispute and disparage SDCC. See Edge Decl. Ex. 4. Similarly, Defendants use the Salt Lake Comic Con Twitter feed, which has more than 30,000 followers to comment on the dispute and accuse SDCC of fraud.

I mean, 30,000 Twitter followers is nothing to sneeze at, but... uh... let's take a look at SDCC's Twitter followers, shall we?

Now, I'm no math genius, but 1.55 million followers seems like... a wee bit more than 35,000 or so. But... but... but, SDCC replies: it's not fair that the SLC guys speak out because SDCC has specifically chosen not to comment:

It is also worth noting that in the face of Defendants’ public attacks, SDCC has exercised incredible restraint and has not responded in kind. SDCC believes this dispute should be litigated and decided in this Court. However, if Defendants’ conduct goes unchecked, SDCC will have no choice but to defend itself publically in order to protect its reputation and set the record straight when Defendants disseminate false or misleading information. This type of public exchange regarding ongoing litigation is not productive or conducive to judicial integrity and SDCC hopes it can be avoided.

Incredible restraint. We're so proud of you SDCC. Of course, it didn't stop you from sending a bogus subpoena to us (and who knows how many other media properties), potentially creating massive chilling effects on media companies reporting on your silly dispute. And, really, what exactly is the problem with responding publicly? If you don't want to, don't. If you do, do. But, if you're just concerned about the outcome of the court case, focus on that, not gagging anyone.

Unfortunately... it appears that the court granted the gag order just days before SDCC was set to start. It does limit the request though, noting that the first two parts of the request would be unconstitutional prior restraint. That covers "any false or misleading statements about SDCC or any of its board members" or "any false or misleading statements about the merits of this dispute." What the judge did grant was a gag order on statements that "accuses, suggests, implies or states that SDCC lied and/or committed fraud," "any statement about the genericness of the term comic con," "any statement about whether the term comic con is descriptive" and "any statement about whether SDCC abandoned any trademark rights."

I have trouble seeing how the first two are unconstitutional prior restraint, but the rest are allowed to be gagged -- especially something as mundane as discussing whether comic con is generic or descriptive. But, really, since the court apparently doesn't want anyone discussing that kind of thing, perhaps go ahead and have a discussion in the comments about that very question. And, in case SDCC's high priced lawyers are looking at this yet again, I'll remind you once again that we have no relationship of any kind with the organizers of the Salt Lake City event. We just don't like big bullies silencing people or filing questionable lawsuits.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Jul 2017 @ 6:06pm

    Ah, the 'Shooting your own foot and then blaming the other person' gambit...

    'Defendants’ goal is to win this case by using media outlets to tarnish the reputation of SDCC and taint the jury pool.'

    '... have been posting material and making statements that are designed to tarnish the reputation of SDCC...

    Yeah, they didn't need to do squat, your own actions have more than done that job for them. I wasn't familiar with either con beyond passing mentions, but after watching the SDCC throw their little tantrum and attempt to silence their target I think I can safely say that due to their conduct my view of them is anything but pleasant.

    This is probably going to sound crazy, but bear with me a moment: Maybe, just maybe, if the Salt Lake Comic-con is 'winning in the court of public opinion' it's because they are the ones in the right and aren't the ones acting like huge bullies.

    I've no doubt that the SDCC has vastly more resources they can spend on a legal fight, which I imagine is something they were counting on, it's just too bad for them that their target realized this and moved the fight to an arena where the SDCC couldn't simply spend their target into the ground.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2017 @ 8:45pm

      Re: Ah, the 'Shooting your own foot and then blaming the other person' gambit...

      Hear, Hear.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 6:44am

      Re: Ah, the 'Shooting your own foot and then blaming the other person' gambit...

      Maybe, just maybe, if the Salt Lake Comic-con is 'winning in the court of public opinion' it's because they are the ones in the right and aren't the ones acting like huge bullies.

      I hope someone at SDCC reads this.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: Ah, the 'Shooting your own foot and then blaming the other person' gambit...

        Given they've already tried to intimidate Mike into dropping the issue once via an insanely overbroad subpoena demanding, among other things, "all documents concerning SDCC or any SDCC Convention.", I think it's safe to say there is a higher-than zero chance that someone from the organization reads TD, so it's not impossible.

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        • identicon
          Birt Sampson, 22 Jul 2017 @ 10:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: Ah, the 'Shooting your own foot and then blaming the other person' gambit...

          "any SDCC Convention.".

          You mean the South Dakota Chattanooga ChooChoo Convention?

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  • identicon
    That other guy, 21 Jul 2017 @ 8:25pm

    SDCC - Streisand Demanding Complete Censoriousness

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Jul 2017 @ 8:28pm

    How dare they tell people about our bullying!
    People might think we are idiotic fuckwits wasting money on a legal team who attacked the media looking for some secret plan to call them fuckwits directed by the moon aliens.

    You can both be Comic-Cons, you both are pretty.
    Now stop wasting, time & money on lawyers more interested in earning higher fees than actually protecting your image. This is stupid and those on the SDCC board who think this has to happen, need to be replaced.

    You have a world class event, all the big reveals...and you're worried that somehow SLCC will steal that from you?
    Or are you just assholes who feel they have the power to control the entire comic con market & demand tribute & fealty.

    Y'all are fucking stupid.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2017 @ 8:46pm

    Hello. I'm a random asshole on the internet. :D

    As far as I know, I have never had any connection of any kind with either party involved. I've no plans ever to visit the USA, much less either convention in the future. As far as I can recall, I've never so much as visited either of their websites. I have no particular interest in the case participants in any way at all.

    They do not exist in my world. While I've heard of Comic Cons, this case is literally the only reason I now know they take place in either city.

    Nonetheless, I'm rooting for SLCC. Not because of anything SLCC said, but simply because of what SDCC did.

    SDCC started a legal fight on what seems - to the outside eye - to be very questionable grounds.

    SDCC engaged in what seems - to the outside eye - to be behaviour designed to silence legitimate reporting.

    SDCC has now successfully obtained a court order that seems - to the outside eye - to be little more than poorly-justified censorship.

    Don't piss on the planet and tell us it's the Great Flood, SDCC - this is all your own damned fault. If you don't like the world calling you cunts, then stop acting like cunts, you daft fuckers.

    It's not exactly rocket science, now, is it?

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    • identicon
      Christenson, 22 Jul 2017 @ 1:42am

      Re: The Great Flood

      Dear Anonymous Coward:
      LOL, but it *is* the great flood...that SDCC unleashed on themselves!

      Dear Judge: You are welcome to your own opinion, but a "con", in certain circles is a long-established (1980 in my personal memory, going to science fiction cons) GENERIC word for a convention. There are plenty of this-cons and that-cons around. Comic Con? Descriptive! Ever heard of Worldcon? Boscon? (for boston)

      As to Trademark rights? For a *purely* descriptive moniker (San Diego Comic Con), where the hell did they get those rights from in the first *@#! place? No event outside of San Diego can even *possibly* infringe, because, well, no confusion. Kindly *revoke* SDCC's trademark rights, how about? And, for good measure, sanction their lawyers for a frivolous, meritless case.

      Is there fraud involved? I'd say it's more like old-school publisher thinking on the part of the plaintiffs, (see origins of the Streisand effect) but I have to wonder about their lawyers leading them down the garden path like this, especially as blogs like Techdirt here state the law pretty clearly (no confusion in the mind of the ordinary consuming public as to the origin = no infringement).

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    • identicon
      Andy, 22 Jul 2017 @ 10:45am

      Re:

      Do my what i believe is due diligence after reading this article i just read comments and cases that the SDCC has put forward......In my honest opinion no other comments are needed other than those from the SDCC to prove that they are skumbags that need taking down a notch or two.

      They have overreached in their demands and they have not in any way shown how any other person is responsible for what they are going through right now.


      This is like when trump admitted to firing Comey due to his russian investigation , a crime because it was just to stop the FBI from investigating his white house.

      Sometimes less is more and putting out some of the crazy accusations they have the SDCC has done nothing but hurt themselves, others have just commented on what they have done nothing more and that is the definition of free speech.

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  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 21 Jul 2017 @ 9:37pm

    Why not Google?

    It appears the vast majority of those 200,000 are... because the Associated Press wrote about the case and it has 160,000 distribution partners.

    I have a tip for them: if they had just searched Google for "SDCC lawsuit", the 607,000 matches would have been much more impressive and and also made just about as much sense.

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  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 21 Jul 2017 @ 9:51pm

    Perhaps they are truly scared

    Maybe the whole motivation was to try to destroy SLCC while it was still small.

    Now they see that not only failing, but SLCC is gaining popularity. Of course they are frustrated.

    They are afraid that SLCC will outgrow them, and they will become irrelevant.

    Sure SLCC is in backwards Utah but people laughed when Bob Redford started holding a film festival in the dead of winter in Utah.

    Now you can't swing a dead cat in January without hitting a celebrity.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2017 @ 11:23pm

    Authorities

    On p.5 of plaintiff SDCC's July 6, 2016 Memorandum of Points and Authorities (doc 126-1), the movant cites Hammes Co. Healthcare, LLC v. Tri-City Healthcare Dist. (Dec. 13, 2011 S.D. Cal.) and further Bailey v. Sys. Innovation, Inc. (3d Cir. 1988).

    In Hammes

    4. Motion for Restraining Order, Injunction, or Transfer in the Lead Case

     . . . The Court finds no basis for deeming Tri-City's press release a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice to justify the extreme remedy of imposing a restraint on the parties' speech.

    CONCLUSION

     . . . The Court DENIES Hammes' motion for restraining order, injunction, or transfer in the lead case. . . .

    In Bailey

    We conclude that Middle District of Pennsylvania Rule 118.7 cannot apply to the Commonwealth litigants in this case without violating their first amendment rights to freedom of speech. . . .

    For the foregoing reasons, we will . . . vacate the district court's order insofar as it imposes Rule 118.7 upon the litigants and remand . . .

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 12:04am

    Clues

    I have trouble seeing how the first two are unconstitutional prior restraint, but the rest are allowed to be gagged…

    Without having seen any more of this particular case than the two documents provided in the article, nevertheless, there may be a clue here.

    On p.3 of the court's July 18, 2017 order:

    (c) At the hearing, Defendants requested that the suppression order be made reciprocal. Thus, it is noted that if Plaintiff is to engage in any comparable conduct that is the subject of its own protective order, the instant suppression order will be similarly applied to them forthwith;

    (Emphasis added.)

    Asking for a reciprocal order is not quite consistent with firm argument against the constitutionality of the gag.

    So, looking at this, it appears that defendants failed to oppose the suppression motion with sufficient vigor.

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    • icon
      Dan Audy (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 10:47am

      Re: Clues

      It is extremely typical for lawyers to present multiple, sometimes contradictory, arguments with the implicit claim that argument B is only relevant if the court has already disagreed with their assessment of argument A. So in this case they argued that it was an unconstitutional restraint of speech but even if the court thought that it wasn't the order should apply equally to both sides. It would be pretty stupid for the lawyers to lose on the argument that it was prior restraint and just go home rather than continuing to oppose any portion or its severity that they can.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 11:10am

        Re: Re: Clues

        It is extremely typical for lawyers to present multiple, sometimes contradictory, arguments…

        Average lawyers may fail to appreciate their duty to avoid inviting the court to commit serious constitutional error—no matter what the initial provocation by the opposing party.

        Nebraska Press Association v Stuart (1976) reiterates the Supreme Court's view that—

        prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.

        It's awfully easy for “most serious“ and “least tolerable” to become mere formulaic recitals, mentioned, and then honored only in the breach.

        But when we are about talking the most serious infringements of the constitution, officers of the court have an ethical duty to refrain from asking the judge to violate his oath of office.

        In my opinion, the House of Representatives should be concerned here.

        Most serious, and least tolerable.

        Infringement.

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        • icon
          Dan Audy (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Clues

          In what way did they 'invite' the court to commit constitutional error?

          They vigorously opposed the idea that the court could and should issue an injunction that acted as prior restraint on speech. Having lost that argument based on the judge not understanding the First Amendment they continued to represent their clients interests by asking the court to apply the (improper) ruling to both sides so that at least their client wasn't handcuffed while letting their opposition free to do and say as they wanted.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 1:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Clues

            …they continued to represent their clients interests by asking the court to apply the (improper) ruling to both sides…

            An officer of the court has duties both to clients, and to the court itself.

            Notwithstanding the Senate's precedent in the trial of Judge James H. Peck, and for all that the Senate may consider itself bound by its own precedents, there should be no doubt that Article I, Sections 2 and 3 lay out a remedy against federal judges who commit the “most serious“ and “least tolerable” infringements of the constitution.

            It is improper for an attorney to ask a judge to compound his offense against the constitution.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 4:43pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Clues

              He is trying to reason that violating one sides right to expression is counter weighted by the voluntary loss of the right to that same expression by the side that is being the bully. The judge has essentially said both sides get the same punishment even though one clearly started it and is in the wrong.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 4:18am

    Dear SDCC

    Sometimes the negative press is a sign that you are 100% in the wrong on this one. The reason why the court of public opinion is against you is because you are being a bully and your lawyers are the only ones who are going to benefit in any way from your actions.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 6:49am

    I see the guy behind this lawsuit as the younger, richer brother of the comic book store guy from the Simpsons and using that generic pack of evil lawyers who will to do anything for a buck.
    Funny to me, because it's comically stupid on a Simpsons level of ridiculousness.
    Regardless, this is one of many reasons I don't go to Comic Cons or these type of events anymore.
    Once they were a fun way to spend a day.
    Now that it's a semi-mainstream (or fully mainstream... It's hard to say) thing, stupid greedy people are sucking whatever fun remained, out of it.
    Kudos to anyone who can still enjoy themselves at these.
    Attendees are seen as fans and fans are a source of endless blind cash...
    Come on, some people travel across the country for these events... It's Super Bowl level commitment... You gotta cash in on that.
    What greedy bastard wouldn't come up with any stupid argument they could to fence off even more fan dollars for themselves... no matter how stupid the argument?
    Does stupid even matter anymore?
    We just keep lowering the bar on that daily.
    This was a situation just begging to be milked, and someone thinks they know how.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 6:51am

    I've never been to a Comic Con but if I ever went to one, wouldn't be in San Diego. I remember thinking how dumb the law suit was when reported years ago, I'm surprised its not been settled or dropped. I'm sorry SLC has had to spend $1 million over this non-sense.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2017 @ 9:25am

      Re:

      Hopefully the judge feels the same and forces SDCC to pay the legal fees of SLCC. I also hope they lose the right to use Comic Con in any way due to their bullying.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dan Audy (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 10:52am

        Re: Re:

        It would be ridiculous to rule that SDCC couldn't use Comic Con since it is a descriptive term regardless of their bad behaviour. It would be like making a (theoretically) litigatious Taco Bell take the word Taco out of their name for trademark bullying.

        Frankly hitting them with a declaration of descriptive or nominative use so that every other Comic Con in the world is safe from their threats along with a million in Salt Lake's legal fees should be plenty. That leaves them having wasted several million dollars to lose the tool that they've been suppressing competition with for many years.

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        • icon
          Ryunosuke (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 5:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          and now you realize the problem with using generic descriptors for a trademark/copyright.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            MyNameHere (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 10:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yup. Of course, "Comic-Con" actually wasn't generic until SD made it an incredibly popular term. Their success (which is massive, without a doubt) is in part why the term "Comic-con" appears to be more generic today that it was when they started.

            Their problem is similar those fought by Xerox and others (including Google) face when their trade name becomes commonly used to describe the activity occuring in any place. Back in the day, "Xerox this for me" was about as common as "Google that" is today. Comic-Con may have been unique when they started, but these days Anything-con is about as common as it gets.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2017 @ 10:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              and anytime anyone says "Xerox" they need to pay.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2017 @ 10:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The 1964 New York Comicon: The True Story Behind the World's First Comic Book Convention (The 1960s: The Silver Age of Comic Conventions) (Volume 1)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2017 @ 10:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2017 @ 4:33pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  They were not called comic cons back then.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    orbitalinsertion (profile), 23 Jul 2017 @ 8:32pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "Con" was in usage in the sixties so i don't see why not, even if that isn't the official billing or trademark. Something art con, comic something con, (location) con, GenCon.

                    Fun fact: What is currently known as the New York Comic Con is owned by Elsevier. Let's them and SDCC fight.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 23 Jul 2017 @ 11:46pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    While not quite as early, after a very quick Google:

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wizard_World_Chicago

                    "It was founded in 1972 as Nostalgia '72, Chicago Comic Con"

                    I'm sure there's earlier examples.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      MyNameHere (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 2:36am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Yeah, well, the San Diego one started in 1970... so yeah, earlier example I guess!

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        PaulT (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 3:20am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        I didn't think it was referred to as "comic con" originally, that was only adopted as an abbreviation later? If I'm mistaken, obviously that's a better example.

                        Either way, it proves the assertion that "they were not called comic cons back then" false, unless the AC was specifically referring to a period between 1964 and 1970 where it hadn't yet been coined.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                MyNameHere (profile), 23 Jul 2017 @ 1:27pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Took about 10 seconds to blow it away:

                The Comic Art Convention was an American comic-book fan convention held annually New York City, New York, over Independence Day weekend from 1968 through 1983, except for 1977, when it was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and 1978 to 1979, when editions of the convention were held in both New York and Philadelphia. The first large-scale comics convention, and one of the largest gatherings of its kind until the Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, it grew into a major trade and fan convention. It was founded by Phil Seuling, a Brooklyn, New York City, teacher, who later developed the concept of comic-book direct marketing, which led to the rise to the modern comic book store.

                It was called the Comic Art Convention and not comic-con....

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 4:49pm

    next up...

    SDCC vs NYCC... round one, FIGHT!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Jul 2017 @ 7:04pm

      Re: next up...

      Which is why they are hoping for any sort of win in court.
      Every other Comic Con across the country will just give up.

      SDCC doesn't have a leg to stand on, but is willing to bet the farm and waste tons of cash to win 1 battle & swing the entire war.

      How often have we seen small players targeted by patent trolls, who don't have the resources give in right away because they won once. It's so bad that NewEgg now helps the little guy fight back. There is a tiny bit about altruism, but there is also the fear of God factor... that you might go after a little guy and a big guy will show up, join the battle & try to take away the goose that has been laying golden eggs. The trolls now have to worry that NewEgg will step into the fight and end them. They also have shown the groundwork that can be used to destroy the bullshit patent claims & target the patent.

      One can only hope that SDCC has bitten off more than they can chew, that this will financially devastate them & that with the growing public notice of this event is run by assholes will drop them from being the goto place to connect with fans.

      As I am often want to do these day...
      ByeFelecia.gif

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), 23 Jul 2017 @ 4:37am

        Re: Re: next up...

        One may also hope that if they manage somehow to prevail, that anyone using using the term "con" in their name earlier than SDCC then goes after them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    LVDave (profile), 23 Jul 2017 @ 12:24pm

    Too big for their britches..

    Back before I moved to Las Vegas, I lived in San Diego, and used to go to the San Diego ComicCon, starting in the late 70s and early 80s. This was back when it was still pretty small and was held at the Hotel San Diego. Back then it was a blast. Now, its outgrown its roots and takes over the giant San Diego Convention Center. Looks to me its become too big for its britches...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 6:08am

    Comecon has priority, as any good comrade knows

    The shameless capitalist swine of SDCC exploited the legal confusion of the Cold War to trademark a name used since 1949 by Comecon (aka CMEA), the COuncil for Mutual ECONomic assistance, an economic cooperative of friendly socialist countries. (Comecon is written up in Wikipedia.) SDCC should be forced to disgorge their ill-gotten gains, and pay compensation for years of trademark piracy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 7:07am

    We gave an annual convention called "Brass City Comic Con" in Connecticut, with a website and a Facebook page and everything, SIX times and not a peep out of SDCC. I mean it's not like we tried to hide. Frankly it never occurred to us that anyone would mistake us for the one in San Diego or assume we were associated with them in any way or that San Diego Comic Con would care in the least. It seems nuts that they do!

    I've attended other Comic Cons over the years, like New York Comic Con, which is huge and not associated with the San Diego version as far as I know. It seems odd that SDCC would suddenly get a bug up their butt about it after so many other comic cons have been held over the years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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