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Promising sign emerges that Salt Lake, San Diego Comic-Con are close to settling

Published January 22, 2016 7:32 pm

Court • San Diego, Salt Lake conventions were on track for trademark-infringement trial.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake Comic Con and San Diego Comic-Con are so close to a settlement, a judge has given them time to focus on that, rather than steps toward their federal trial.

The two pop-culture conventions have been on track for a trademark-infringement trial after San Diego sued Salt Lake in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in 2014, claiming its name is too similar. But on Thursday, attorneys for both conventions asked Magistrate Judge Jan Adler to extend a procedural deadline so that they could work "diligently" on a settlement.

On Friday, Adler agreed.

The conventions have scheduled a meeting with Adler on Wednesday in San Diego.

"Drafts of the agreement have been exchanged," according to the Thursday court filing requesting the extension, "and the parties hope to soon reach agreement as to all terms."

The terms of the settlement, in their current state, "are very similar" to those discussed at a Nov. 23 meeting, according to the filing. Those terms have not been publicized.

In prior court documents, San Diego had suggested Salt Lake use the name of its sister, spring-time event, "FanX," for both of its events.

Technically, San Diego has the hyphenated "Comic-Con" trademarked, not "Comic Con." However, its legal team has argued that the similarity of "Comic Con" in Salt Lake's name, without the hyphen, has confused people into thinking the event is somehow associated with San Diego's convention.

As Salt Lake's organizers have seen it, the legal battle isn't just between them and the flagship convention; it's a threat to the dozens of other comic book conventions around the world that also use "comic con" in their names. Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer Bryan Brandenburg previously asserted that if San Diego wins the case, the precedent will allow it to do this to other organizations.

The recent talks are not the first time the conventions have tried to negotiate. About a year ago, the two talked for months, and even reportedly neared a settlement, with Brandenburg saying they hoped to start a "bromance" with the larger convention. Those talks broke down earlier last July.

But when attorneys for the two conventions met again in late October, "we felt that everybody was still trying to work toward settlement in good faith," said C.J. Veverka, an attorney for Salt Lake.


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