Lawyers for Anime Expo Sending Out Cease and Desist Letters to Other Anime Cons
Not a week goes by where we don’t get reports of convention drama. Most of the time I really prefer to keep The Convention Fans Blog out of it. After all, we’re a blog for fans of conventions, not a blog for con organizers specifically. However, now and then the drama erupts into full blown news, news that I think will be of interest to even the more casual convention goers.
This latest drama all started back in April of this year when a new Florida convention tried to contact the Anime Expo (which is run by the Society for Promotion of Japanese Animation [SPJA]), asking to use the name “The Florida Anime Expo”. The team behind the proposed “The Florida Anime Expo” wanted to extend the courtesy of contacting Anime Expo about their new convention’s name, as it was similar.
They tried several different methods to contact the organizers, and after many bounced e-mails and no replies, they finally reached out to Brian Raker from the SPJA, who they had contact information from courtesy of the The Anime Cons Mailing List. After months of no response, the organizers of the Florida convention sent a letter with signature confirmation to the SPJA, telling them that if they they didn’t hear back from them, they were going to assume that they were giving their consent on the name.
It only took a few days after receipt of the letter for the SPJA/Anime Expo to say no in the form of a cease and desist letter from Robert Retana, a named partner at Oliver, Sabec & Retana P.C.
The new Florida convention replied to this cease and desist letter stating they would instead use the name “The Florida Anime Experience.” The SPJA/Anime Expo said no to that name, too, in the form of a cease and desist letter again.
Yes, that’s right. Apparently “The Florida Anime Experience” is too close in name to the California-based “Anime Expo.”
But it didn’t end there. The SPJA/Anime Expo has now sent a cease and desist letter to Erie Anime Experience, an event that has been around since 2007. The letter stated that the name is “confusingly similar” to the SPJA’s trademarks and intellectual property.
This story is far from over. We’ll continue to update with details, particularly about the new legal stand off between the SPJA and Erie Anime Experience. So for now, beware convention organizers! If your convention’s name has “Anime” and the letters “exp” in it, you could be expecting a cease and desist letter from Oliver, Sabec & Retana P.C., on behalf of Anime Expo and the Society for Promotion of Japanese Animation.
Edited to add: The lawyer for Anime Expo cited Hewlett Packard Co. v. Packard Press, Inc., 281 F.3d 1261, 1276 (Fed Cir. 2002) as the relevant case law concerning the other conventions’ names being “confusingly similar” to their IP.
Edit #2: Erie Anime Experience has been told that the matter is being dropped.