Comic Con Controversy
Both Sides Speak


News broke yesterday of a trademark infringement lawsuit between the City of Houston Tourism Bureau and Space City Comic Con over the use of the term 'Space City'. Allegations of favoritism, cronyism, hyperbole, and hypocrisy have been leveled by both sides. I was able to talk to both Charles Baker of Locklord LLP, the firm representing the Houston Tourism Bureau, and George Comits, owner of Space City Comic Con about the pending trademark lawsuit.

Baker explained the city has had the trademark for years, and it is the Tourism Board's responsibility to promote conventions like Space City Comic Con or Comicpalooza. However as the name “Space City” is owned by the city, it is the responsibility of the city to defend any challenge to a trademark they own.

According to Baker the city was not aware of the convention until early this year. The city only challenged the convention because conventions are their main focus, they have no reason to challenge any of the other business that use Space City, so Space City Laundry or Space City Credit Union have no need to worry.

Baker also said they are just asking for a name change, not monetary damages. They are not trying to stop the convention from operating this year, but to change their name before the next convention.

The city has known about the existence of the convention since it was founded in 2012, according to Comits. He says since the convention is run out of NRG Park the city makes very little money on it, being a county property. Comits claims that the city has been trying to take over some aspects of the convention for come time now.

He also accused the city of favoring Comicpalooza, another convention of similar size, as the city owns a 50% stake and has a vested interest in making sure Comicpalooza is as profitable as possible. He claims the city has a service mark, not a tradional trademark as they claim.

A service mark is a specialized trademark used only for services provided, not a true trademark. Comits has applied for a trademark for Space City Comic Con, but has not heard back from the Patents & Trademark Office yet. He claims he has quite a bit invested in the brand name of Space City Comic Con, and changing the name would cost the same as fighting it in court.

He said he's not looking forward to do either, as he does not have the deep pockets the city has. He said Space City Comic Con will go on this year, and that the convention is his number one priority. The lawsuit will not be resolved by the time the convention is scheduled so he plans to go on as normal.

There is no court date set, and both sides are still in discussion regarding the matter. It remains to be seen if there can be any sort of an agreement between the two sides, or what effect it will have on the future of Space City Comic Con. But for right now, the convention will go on.

Related Articles:
Space City Comic Con: An Autopsy

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