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San Diego Comic-Con Files for New Trademarks: Are They Gearing Up to Live Stream Panels?

Amidst an ongoing trademark lawsuit, San Diego Comic-Con quietly filed for several trademarks last month. Two are specifically for the services of “video-on-demand transmission services; audio/video on demand services; streaming of audiovisual and multimedia material on the Internet.”

Design Mark

SDCC’s design mark filing for VOD and internet streaming.

While a new trademark is certainly not proof positive of the introduction of a Comic-Con live stream or online on-demand video service, it does seem like such a service is long overdue: New York Comic-Con hosted live streams of their two biggest panel rooms plus the show floor as early as 2013. And while NYCC offered their live streams for free, SDCC could easily charge a small access fee and still have huge viewership numbers.

Complaints about the lack of exclusive studio film clips & footage in the tape-delayed Playback room (located in the Omni Hotel in 2014) are always a big issue at SDCC Talkback panels. An official SDCC live stream carrying such footage seems unlikely, but having the footage available anywhere outside of Hall H and Ballroom 20 would be a welcome change for most.

Even without the exclusive footage, panel live streams or on-demand video (containing only on-stage discussions and Q&A) would be guaranteed to be a big hit online. For example, a video of the full 2014 Game of Thrones Hall H panel has garnered over one million views on YouTube. By comparison, HBO posted the same video itself a month later – and is trailing with 670,000 hits.

Character Mark

SDCC’s filing for the character mark for VOD and internet streaming.

This trademark registration could also be a response to Wizard World’s recent foray into streaming media: the convention conglomerate is prepping the launch of their over-the-top subscription channel CONtv, in partnership with Cinedigm. Notably, Wizard World has been using the phrase “Comic Con” in their event names for years. Wizard filed for the “CONtv” trademark back in May 2014.

Though San Diego Comic-Con has filed for these trademarks with the US Patent & Trademark Office, they have not actually been registered yet – the approval process can be quite lengthy. SDCC will be required to submit a statement of intent, but several of their previous trademark filings have multiple requests for extensions on the deadline to file the statements of intent. While VOD and streaming are obviously now on Comic-Con’s radar, it could be a long time before we see one of these video services in action.