Court lifts gag order against Salt Lake Comic Con

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal appeals court has lifted a gag order against Salt Lake Comic Con and its organizers.

In a ruling handed down this week, California’s Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court’s restraining order that prohibited Salt Lake Comic Con from discussing any of the litigation against it on social media or websites. FOX 13 first reported on the gag order in September, as the massively popular event was under way in Utah.

Salt Lake Comic Con challenged the judge’s gag order, arguing it infringed on their First Amendment rights. In the ruling, three judges of the circuit court agreed unanimously. They also disagreed with San Diego Comic-Con’s claim that the social media postings about the litigation could taint a potential jury pool.

“The orders at issue are unconstitutional prior restraints on speech.They
prohibit speech that poses neither a clear and present danger nor a serious and imminent threat to SDCC’s (San Diego Comic-Con) interest in a fair trial,” the judges wrote.

San Diego Comic-Con sued Salt Lake Comic Con and its organizers, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, accusing them of infringing on San Diego’s trademark on the words “comic con.” Salt Lake Comic Con has argued that the term is used by a number of other events across the country.

The case has been locked up in contentious litigation since 2014, with no signs of a settlement being reached. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial at the end of November.

Read the Ninth Circuit Court ruling here: