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Salt Lake hires California attorney to fight San Diego Comic-Con lawsuit

Published August 20, 2014 3:53 pm

Lawsuit • Sterling Brennan helped Novell defend copyright of the UNIX operating system.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In its legal battle with San Diego Comic-Con, Salt Lake Comic Con has armed itself with a lawyer right from their persecutors' own coast.

Salt Lake announced Wednesday that they have hired Sterling Brennan, of the law firm Maschoff Brennan, to represent them in their trademark infringement dispute with San Diego. The flagship pop culture convention sued Salt Lake earlier this month, arguing that their similar name confuses people into thinking the two events are associated.

Brennan happens to be the former chairman of the Business Litigation Section of the Orange County Bar Association — a county about a 90-minute drive north of San Diego. He was also a prior chairman of the Orange County J. Reuben Clark Law Society.

Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr appeared confident in his choice of legal representation, referring to Brennan and his team as "some of the best [intellectual property] lawyers in the country" in a Wednesday news release.

In 2012, California Lawyer recognized Brennan as "one of its intellectual property lawyers of the year for his successful trial work on behalf of Novell in defending its copyright ownership of the UNIX operating system," the release adds.

Farr hopes that by fighting San Diego's lawsuit, the burgeoning Salt Lake convention can set a precedent in the event of any future claims against them, or other comic cons across the country.

"If they win with us, they win with everybody," Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer Bryan Brandenburg has said.

San Diego filed its complaint Aug. 7 in U.S. District Court in Southern California, seeking both damages and an injunction. San Diego alleges that the Utahns have been capitalizing on its "creativity, ingenuity and hard work" through the unauthorized use of San Diego's trademarks to promote their own convention.

Salt Lake's co-founders have publicly denounced the allegation as baseless. They have until early September to file an official response to the lawsuit.

"Our first choice is to resolve this issue amicably, but we are also prepared to do what is necessary to defend Salt Lake Comic Con," Farr said in a statement.

The convention is scheduled for Sept. 4-6 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The co-founders have assured convention-goers that the show will go on, despite the lawsuit.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mikeypanda