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FanX files motion to avoid legal bills

Fans dressed in cosplay listen to a press conference announcing guests for the then-named Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2016 at the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.

SALT LAKE CITY — FanX, a comic and pop culture convention based in Salt Lake City, is asking an appeals court in California to step in and prevent them from having to pay the legal bills of their opponents in a trademark lawsuit.

FanX filed a motion Wednesday asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene in lower court’s ruling that it would have to pay nearly $4 million in legal bills for San Diego Comic-Con International. FanX argues having to pay those costs would “destroy” their business and even impact the Utah state economy.

Earlier this year, jurors decided FanX needed to pay the organizers of San Diego’s annual event just $20,000 of the original $12 million Comic-Con International sought at trial. However, U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia declared the case “exceptional” in an August ruling, ordering the $4 million in fees. Jurors had found the Salt Lake convention’s organizers, while guilty of violating the San Diego event’s trademark, had not done so willfully, but Battaglia’s ruling argued FanX used an “unreasonable” legal strategy and was further exceptional because of public comments made by its organizers.

Dan Farr Productions, the company behind FanX, argues in their motion that “immediate enforcement would destroy” their business, calling the district court’s ruling a “death sentence.”

The motion argues there are a number of pop culture conventions in other states that use the phrase “comic con” in their marketing, and some have existed since before the San Diego Comic-Con began. In the motion, they argue producers of other conventions are worried “they too will face expensive litigation.”

The company is asking for an injunction on the legal fee payment while it continues to pursue appeals of the case. Without that emergency stay from the 9th Circuit Court, the motion says FanX would have to pay the $4 million by Oct. 22.