A lot is going on in convention world, so let’s get to it!
§ The trial of the month is now taking place in San Diego! The battle over the trademark for Comic-Con. On one side, San Diego Comic-Con which owns the trademark and is defending it against the Salt Lake Comic Con. On the other, the SLCC folks, who parked an Audi wrapped with advertisements for their con in front of the SD Convention Center during comic con – an event which seems to have spurred a lot of the con-troversy. Opening remarks were held this week:
In opening statements Tuesday in a high-stakes trademark fight, attorneys for San Diego Comic-Con told jurors that Salt Lake Comic Con hijacked the Comic-Con trademark, while attorneys for the unhyphenated Utah group said the phrase has become generic. San Diego Comic-Con “remained a small, intimate comic convention for decades,” Pillsbury attorney Callie Bjurstrom argued in U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia’s courtroom.
The Salt Lake folks contend that comic con is used by more than 100 events around the nation. The trial is expected to last until next week. Both sides have been in and out of courtrooms for years, and a mediated settlement was urged many times, but nope, it has now gone all the way to trial. We can’t call this one, so pass the popcorn.
§ MEANWHILE, in Hanover, MASS, another comic con trademark suit is underway! This one a little less epic.
Two companies putting on the latest in a series of pop culture events at the Hanover Mall are being sued for trademark infringement by the organizers of an anime convention in Boston that draws tens of thousands of people each year. The New England Anime Society, which has organized Anime Boston since 2003, has accused Fantastic Gatherings Inc. and Interactive Meet and Greet Entertainment Inc. of deliberately confusing consumers by promoting next month’s convention as the “Boston Anime Fest” and suggesting that the two events are related.
The defendant, which goes by the names of Boston SouthCoast Comic Con, Boston AnimeFest and Collectibles Extravaganza is supposed to be held the weekend of Dec 9-10, but the older event is asking for an emergency injunction to stop them from using the Boston Anime Fest name, as well as the website URL www.bostonanimefest.com. They also claim that two women who helped start the newer show worked at the older one and had inside knowledge. Also, it’s in Boston, not Hanover, so misleading.
The original Anime Boston is held in Boston, and the Anime Fest Boston is held at an abandoned JCPenny that has been converted into a suitable space for events. However, in our opinion, using the word “extravaganza” for an event at an old mall is questionable in and of itself.
That said, I have to admit both names are so similar that I had a hard time writing up this story.
§ AND in “Bad Con’ news, Nerd and Tie has a detailed write up on Waxacon, an event recently held in Waxahachie, TX that featured guests such as Corin Nemec, Olivia Hack, and a lot of Power Rangers. Unfortunately, getting paid wasn’t on the schedule:
We’ve spoken to representation for multiple guests who appeared at Waxacon, and those who were supposed to see payment arrive via Paypal haven’t received what’s due to them. What’s worse is that we’ve confirmed that guests who were handed checks by the convention organizer Alex Betsill have seen them bounce.
Betsill reportedly gave the guests regular checks, but claims they were just to hold on to until cashier’s checks could be sent. There’s a lot of contract quoting to show who did what and when, but the bottom line, as Nerd and Tie’s Trae Dorn writes, is that it was a first year show, it lost money and…showrunners need to expect that:
On the one hand, I can appreciate the position Alex Betsill is in. He ran a con that didn’t make money and he’s having problems paying his bills. I’ve been working cons for over twenty years and have co-founded a couple. I know exactly how rough a first year can be. But the cardinal rule for starting an event is to never run a con you can’t walk away from no matter how badly it goes. Most first year cons lose money, and that’s a reality conrunners have to be ready for.
And if Betsill had responded apologetically and transparently, he’d have my sympathy. He didn’t though – instead he’s avoided emails, made rationalizations, and (at least in response to our messages) been semi-hostile. When I mentioned that I had seen a photo of one of the bounced checks (which had Betsill’s account details redacted), Betsill claimed I was in violation of Texas state financial laws, and said that he intended to “[let] the proper authorities know.”
Also, there were only 600 people at the show, and vendors didn’t make much money.
Seriously, don’t be a defensive dillweed. And if you don’t have enough cash to pay for a con, don’t put on a con.
§ But that may have been the problem that Key City Comic Con ran into, as a story with this heartbreaking headline reveals:Canceled convention crushes enthusiastic Abilene hopes.
The con was originally set for November, then moved to January..and now not happening at all, to a chorus of social media blaming and apologizing set off by a FB post.
The announcement set off a string of social media comments upset about the cancellation from fans looking to express themselves through costume play at the event, enjoy meeting the announced guests and renting exhibition space as part of the event. Some expressed concern over the cancellation and money already spent, either on admission or to be a show exhibitor.
Broken hearts indeed, but there are a lot of shows in Texas.
§ Finally, PopCultHQ puts it all together in a piece called 14 Signs Of A Potential Convention Failure which really needs to be posted and shared everywhere. Some of them are common sense but all are red flags:
3. If the organizer has never been involved in a convention before
- This is a person running on a dream. They don’t know everything involved in running a convention and the odds are good that they have bitten off more than they can chew.
4. If the organizer knows nothing about local tax or licensing regulations
This is one of the first things anyone should investigate when setting up a new event or business in an area. Do you pay taxes? Immediately after the event? Are there city, county, or state taxes that your vendors will need to know about? Are certain items not allowed to be sold within the city limits?
Honestly, it isn’t rocket science but a lot of unqualified people are getting into this business.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.