With all the money flowing through the con business these days, it’s no surprise that lawsuits are springing up. The last few days have revealed a quartet of complicated CONtroversy stories that are vague and yet spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.
§ Nerd-Con, a show in Escondido, is being sued for non-payment by a DJ who appeared at the show, and possibly the venue. The show had two (seemingly) successful outings, but the third one this year was cancelled, and people weren’t paid for last year.
Jones’s second Nerd-Con, last year, also in August at Escondido’s Center for the Arts, expanded to three days and drew over 7000 freaks and geeks, according to promoter Troutman and the manager of DJ Galactic Ray who performed all three days.
The third annual Nerd-Con didn’t happen last month and won’t be happening anytime soon. “I have a collection of four names of performers besides myself who got cheated [by Jones],” says Rob Estrada, manager of DJ Galactic Ray. “We gave him a discounted fee of $500 for all three days. He kept promising [payment], then he eventually blew me off and told me good luck on trying to collect, that there would be no way we could collect.”
§ I can’t actually make heads or tales of this one, but it seems Alamo City Comic Con and Texas state senator Carlos Uresti are suing each other for fraud! It seems to have to do with Uresti’s financial consulting company, Turning Point.
In his lawsuit, Uresti alleges that Turning Point was retained to assist Comic Con in locating venues for different events and negotiating “lower pricing” for the space. In return, Uresti was supposed to receive a 15 percent commission, according to his lawsuit. Comic Con says Uresti has demanded $62,514 in allegedly unpaid commissions. Turning Point also was supposed to receive a 15 percent ownership interest in Comic Con, Uresti’s lawsuit says. Comic Con contends it never consented to the transfer of the 15 percent interest, its suit says. “The signature on the alleged Turning Point agreement is not that of … De La Fuente,” Comic Con says in its suit. Uresti’s suit says Turning Point successfully negotiated reduced pricing at the Convention Center and got the Alamodome to waive fees.
This is not a sexy story, I’m afraid.
§ And in WYOMING, there is a story about the first Cheyenne Comic Con not paying its venue. The con was held back in May. Sadly the local paper’s stringent firewall allows nothing more than a tantalizing fragment to be read:
A Laramie County District Court judge ruled in favor of Little America Hotel and Resort in a lawsuit over unpaid debts from the first Cheyenne Comic Con. Loft Collectibles, Comics and Games LLC was ordered in May to pay Little America $114,948. An updated filing Aug. 22 included an additional $6,551.50 in attorney’s fees and costs.
I was so intrigued by this story that I tried to find the court filings but Wyoming does not have online court papers! You have to go there and ask for them. I like this story but not that much.
Loft Collectibles is a popular comics shop in Laramie, so I imagine this could be a financial blow to the shop.
§ Finally the big one! San Diego Comic-Con vs Salt Like City Comic Con for all the trademarks! As you know SDCC has been suing the Salt Lake show for misusing the term Comic-Con, which Comic-Con Iternational does own a trademark on.
This case has been dragging on for a long time and it looks like it might be going to trial. As much as I love a good legal scrap, this is another case that has devolved into the minutiae of trademark law.
On Tuesday, a Southern District Court of California judge ruled that a survey provided by Comic-Con International: San Diego that reported 80% of people thought Comic Con’ is a specific brand name was valid – paving the way for a jury trial. Credit: Comic-Con International: San Diego Salt Lake City Comic Con’s organizers filed a counterclaim in 2017, and has outlined their position on their website.
“Our position is that the phrases ‘comic con,’ ‘comicon’ and even ‘comic-con’ are generic and are abbreviations for the term ‘comic convention.’ This has been a common expression since 1964, six years before San Diego Comic-Con even existed. When used with another set of words such as ‘Salt Lake,’ ‘Big Apple,’ ‘Chicago’ or ‘New York,’ they become a name that has protection and exclusivity.”
According to AP, over 100 events in the United States utilize the term ‘comic con’ (or a variation thereof).
Do you have a juicy comic CON-troversy? Tell us all about it!
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.