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Tampa Bay Comic Con changes name in wake of San Diego Comic Con trademark case

Alex Melvin and Chelsea Criner pose as characters from Fallout 3 at the 2018 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. LUIS SANTANA | Times
Published Sep. 5, 2018

Tampa Bay Comic Con has changed its name to Tampa Bay Comic Convention.

The change comes less than two weeks after a federal judge in California ordered organizers of an event formerly known as Salt Lake Comic Con to pay nearly $4 million in attorneys' fees and costs to San Diego Comic Convention in a trademark infringement suit.

With the award, judge Anthony J. Battaglia affirmed a December 2017 jury verdict that Dan Farr Productions infringed on San Diego Comic Con's trademarks by operating conventions under the name "Salt Lake Comic Con."

Tampa Bay Comic Con co-founder Stephen Solomon, a manager at Imaginarium, the company that has run Tampa Bay Comic Con and similarly-branded comic conventions around the U.S. since 2010, confirmed the name change Wednesday after re-branded images appeared on the convention's social media. Solomon declined to comment on whether the San Diego Comic Con ruling had anything to do with the Tampa Bay Comic Con name change.

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The Hollywood Reporter called the San Diego case "one of the biggest trademark cases in the entertainment industry in years." It was widely anticipated the ruling would impact other conventions using variations of the Comic-Con name.

The jury originally awarded only $20,000 in damages, finding that the infringement was not "wilfull," but Battaglia found San Diego Comic Con was entitled to attorneys fees due to the "exceptional" nature of the case. In his ruling, Battaglia said Dan Farr Productions used "wasteful" tactics that brought unnecessary legal fees and wasted the court resources.

Imaginarium has also re-branded its conventions in Indiana, San Francisco, Atlanta and Michigan, which all previously used "Comic Con" in their name.

Over the past decade, Tampa Bay Comic Con grew from a small, one-day gathering at a Largo hotel to a multi-day event at Tampa Convention Center with celebrity guests and an estimated 50,000 attendees.

Tampa Bay Comic Convention is scheduled to return Aug. 2 to 4 in 2019.

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San Diego Comic Con, also known as Comic-Con International: San Diego, or simply Comic-Con, was founded in 1970 and is generally considered the largest event of its kind in the world.

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