Will 'Comic-Con' soon become a generic term?

A comic book convention is nirvana for fans of super heroes, science fiction buffs and video game fans. Arguably the most famous convention is the San Diego Comic Convention (also known as Comic-Con). But for those who cannot make the annual trip to California, regional comic book conventions have sprouted up throughout the country.

Of course, some are larger than others, but how is a comic book fan supposed to distinguish between competing Comic-Cons? 

This ostensibly is the question in a courtroom battle brewing between the San Diego Comic Convention and a Utah based production company that promoted the Salt Lake City Comic-Con.  The San Diego Convention claims that the Salt Lake City Comic-Con used the trademarked term without paying licensing fees. It further claims that the Salt Lake City Comic-Con  is unfairly capitalizing on the goodwill created by San Diego Comic-Con and will confuse consumers.

Conversely, the Salt Lake City Comic-Con argues that the term “comic-con” is now a term used in such a general fashion that it is no longer worthy of trademark protection. As such, no licensing fees are justified. It believes that this is the latest example of “genericide,” where a term is appropriated by the public and becomes the general, standard name for a product. Other examples of terms falling victim to genericide include aspirin and videotape.  

It remains to be seen which Comic-Con will prevail, and whether the Salt Lake City Comic-Con will be subject to any financial penalties. In the meantime, the story is an example of the need for experienced intellectual property attorneys.

The preceding is provided for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship. 

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