U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia has ruled that Salt Lake Comic Con organizers violated his orders regarding public statements about the litigation. While also ruling that the SLCC organizers were not in contempt of court, his order sanctioned SLCC, ordering it to “remove all [emphasis his] references to the pending litigation, except the disclaimer ordered by the Court, on their websites and social media. This includes their personal Twitters and Facebooks and similar social media, as well as the Salt Lake Comic Con websites and associated social media platforms.” The order also required the SLCC organizers to pay SDCC’s fees to file the motion on the issue.
The court orders the SLCC organizers violated were issued in July, after Salt Lake Comic Con distributed a press release stating that San Diego Comic-Con had obtained its trademarks by fraud (see “Salt Lake Comic Con Accuses San Diego Comic-Con of Fraud”). The orders limited what SLCC organizers could say about the case, and required that the SLCC website and social media accounts display a disclaimer that announced that the court was setting those limitations.
The judge also ruled on both sides’ motions for summary judgment, denying all but one. The judge issued a summary judgment that San Diego Comic-Con has not abandoned its trademark rights as SLCC organizers had argued, resolving one issue before trial.
Numerous other issues remain to be resolved in what’s scheduled to be an eight day trial. Witness lists include executives of both companies (SDCC’s Fae Desmond, Damien Cabaza, David Glanzer, and John Rogers; and Dan Farr Productions’ Bryan Brandenburg, Daniel Farr, Danielle Follett), Christina Angel of Denver Comic Con, Matthew Solberg of Phoenix Comicon, Alexander Callego of Palm Springs Comic Con Convention, Keith Tralins of Comikaze Entertainment's Stan Lee's Los Angeles Comic Con, and others.
If this case does go to trial, it will provide a fascinating history of comic conventions and determine key features of their future. Stay tuned.