The Other Side: Phoenix Comicon Proactively Changes Names To Avoid San Diego Comic-Con Bully

from the appeasement-strategy dept

We had just been talking about the brewing trademark civil war set to break out across the country in the comics conventions space, with Yakima Central City Comic Con choosing not to react to the fiasco of a court case that saw San Diego Comic-Con enforce its trademark against a convention in Salt Lake City. Their decision, publicly revealed relatively soon after the court case outcome, indicated that some comic conventions take the view that SDCC's trademark is invalid for any number of reasons and that they can simply wait for the Salt Lake Comic Con's attempt to invalidate SDCC's trademark to shake out. These would be conventions deciding not to freak out just because one bully got one win.

But of course that stance could never be universal among all comic conventions in America and now we have our first convention deciding to show everyone what a chilling effect trademark bullying can have. The previously-named Phoenix Comicon has announced it will be rebranding as the Phoenix Comic Fest, with the company behind the convention, Square Egg Entertainment, providing only the thinnest of veils over its reasoning for the change.

“In recent months, the use of the word Comic-Con, and its many forms, has become litigious. We would prefer to focus on creating the best events and experiences for our attendees. Therefore, effective immediately, our event held annually in Phoenix in the spring will be rebranded as Phoenix Comic Fest.”

Square Egg also said that they will change the event’s website and other assets over the next week to reflect the new name. As of this writing, they’ve already updated the event's Facebookand Twitter accounts and have posted an updated logo for the event.

This, necessarily, must be considered a win for the San Diego Comic-Con folks. The whole point of the lawsuit that kicked all of this off was that they didn't want anyone else using their plainly generic and descriptive, yet now enforced, trademark. Still, the obvious question is exactly what sort of win is this? If anything, this move by the now-named Phoenix Comic Fest seems to indicate that even the fearful out there will simply rebrand. With no actual customer or public confusion to seriously be worried about, it seems to me that the only real incentive in all of this for SDCC is licensing and partnership agreements. A simple name change does away with those potential rewards.

Still, it's worth keeping in mind that there are over 100 conventions in America alone using some flavor of the "comic con" mark. What percentage will undertake the very real costs in rebranding and what percentage will stand their ground carries some importance, but so long as the latter number is sizable SDCC will have quite a bit in the way of court costs and lawyers' fees to pay for the pleasure of eking out five-figure jury awards.

Filed Under: bullying, comic con, phoenix, trademark
Companies: san diego comic-con


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  1. icon
    John85851 (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 10:34am

    Is SDCC even a comic book convention any more?

    I know this is probably a fool's errand, but I would almost go on the legal offensive and claim "San Diego Comic Con" is more about pop culture than comic books, and therefore, can't own "comic con" since it's clearly not a "comic book convention".

    Just look at the trailers, cast and crew panels, and sneak peeks for "Twilight", "Star Trek", "Star Wars", and "Avatar", none of which are comic books.
    And how about the announcement of exclusive toys for "Star Wars" at SDCC... when neither toys nor movies are comic books.

    It would be like me owning a show called "San Diego Auto Show" and then suing "Salt Lake City Auto Show" because I think I own the trademark on "auto show"... even though most of the vehicles at my show are motorcycles, not automobiles.

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