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Trademark Dispute over Houston Comic Con Cools Off a Bit

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
April 29, 2016
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Mike Waterman, President, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB)Houston, TX – Space City Comic Con will take place over the Memorial Day weekend with that name after the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) withdrew its request for a temporary restraining order in its lawsuit over alleged trademark infringement.

The GHCVB holds a trademark on the term “Space City,” a longtime nickname for the city of Houston, and had asked a federal judge to block the show from using the term in its brand. Bureau officials, however, backed away from its request for a temporary restraining order in late April so that event could take place at the end of May while negotiations on an out-of-court solution continue.

“In no way do we want to stop this show from happening and we certainly hope it’s successful because that’s a win for the hospitality community,” GHCVB President Mike Waterman told Trade Show Executive, “But we do want it to take place under a different name -- one that is not trademarked.”

Space City Comic Con takes place May 27-29 at NRG Center. The show website now carries a disclaimer stating that it is not affiliated with the GHCVB.

The founder of Space City Comic Con, George Comits, told Houston media that he suspected the lawsuit was actually aimed at preventing his growing show from competing with Comicpalooza, which takes place June 17-19 at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. Comicpalooza and the GHCVB have a formal partnership agreement, which Comits contends calls the bureau’s motives into question.

Comits could not be reached for comment, but said in a statement that he did not consider his show to be in competition with Comicpalooza and that there was room in the market for both events. “We want to have a show that was a little different, and we could share the huge population of fandom without diminishing either show,” Comits said. “If we worked together, we could really make synergy.”

Waterman, however, said the lawsuit was a simple legal matter requiring litigation and was not aimed at torpedoing Comits’ event. “The current lawsuit stems from a show operator using a trademark (Space City) that the GHCVB owns,” he said. “Our organization purchased that mark in 2012 for use in the convention space and had tried to work with the operator for months before taking legal action to rectify the conflict.”

Reach Mike Waterman at 713-853-8093 or mwaterman@visithouston.com

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