The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con, lifting a gag order prohibiting them from public comments on their litigation with the organizers of San Diego Comic-Con, and reversing the sanctions the lower court had imposed for not following the original gag order (see "Salt Lake Comic Con Sanctioned by Court").  The appeals court ruled that “the court-ordered prior restraints on petitioners’ speech violated the First Amendment.”

In requesting the order, the San Diego organizers had argued that the aggressive public relations campaign conducted by the Salt Lake organizers (see, for example, "Salt Lake Comic Con Accuses San Diego Comic-Con of Fraud") could taint the potential jury pool and make it hard to get a fair trial.  The appeals court did not agree.  “The panel concluded that the orders prohibited speech that posed neither a clear and present danger nor a serious and imminent threat to SDCC’s interest in a fair trial on the trademark claims,” the panel wrote, concluding that “well-established doctrines on jury selection and the court’s inherent management powers provided an alternative, less restrictive, means of ensuring a fair trial.”

The Salt Lake organizers quickly resumed their public relations campaign, sending out a press release announcing the decision and also reiterating their core argument, that the term Comic Con is generic and that the San Diego organizers’ infringement suit (see "San Diego Comic-Con Sues Salt Lake Comic Con") should fail.

What’s expected to be an eight-day trial starts later this month, and the costs are apparently starting to take a toll.  In a continuation of efforts to make their side of the case a cause celebre, Salt Lake Comic Con Co-Founder and CMO Bryan Brandenburg announced that they will be launching a crowdsourcing campaign later this month "to raise additional legal funds for the case, produce a documentary, and to continue to build solidarity with other comic con promoters and their fans,"