ars Technica: Gag order silencing Comic-Con producers declared unconstitutional

Appeals court says silencing online speech over trademark suit is unconstitutional.

 

(ars Technica) A federal appeals court is declaring a gag order that was imposed on the backers of a Comic-Con convention to be an unconstitutional infringement of speech. A San Diego federal judge had prohibited the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con from taking to social media like Twitter, Facebook, and even the event’s website to discuss being sued for allegedly infringing the “Comic-Con” trademark.

“Petitioners assert that the court-ordered prior restraints on their speech violate the First Amendment. We agree,” the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

The gag order was issued as part of an ongoing trademark lawsuit brought by the producers of the San Diego Comic-Con. They sued a competing “Comic-Con” convention for using the unhyphenated form of their trademarked term “Comic-Con” without paying licensing fees. The case raises questions about the legitimacy of the trademark—in particular, whether the trademark has become too generic and, hence, a victim to its own pop-culture popularity (…)

 

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