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A Youngstown graphic novel artist is trying to fight a major comic book company and its billion dollar corporation over the name of his front-yard comic book convention.
Youngstown resident Chris Yambar said he created Lawn-Con four years ago to introduce area residents to comic books and attract fans.
But this year at the Comic-Con, the largest comic book convention in the world that ran for several days two weeks ago, Warner Bros. set up an area with entertainment and attractions for fans using the name Lawn Con.
Warner Bros. owns DC Comics, which created Superman and Batman, among other characters. Warner Bros. founders began their movie career in Youngstown and owned their first theater here.
“You’d expect more out of an industry that understands truth, justice and the American way,” Yambar said.
Yambar said he previously had not filed for copyright or trademark rights to the name, but has since begun the process through his attorney.
A Warner Bros. spokesman said they never searched for or applied for a trademark before they used the name. Spokesman Paul McGuire said Yambar never registered the name, so it’s fair for them to use.
“Mr. Yambar has no federal registration, and does not claim any prior use in San Diego,” McGurie said in an email. “Therefore, we were clearly entitled to use Lawn-Con in San Diego as there was no possibility of any confusion with his local show in Youngstown, Ohio.”
Yambar, who is best known for his comic book versions of “The Simpsons,” said he has hosted his version of Lawn-Con for the past three years at his home. He said he teamed up with First Book Mahoning Valley to help promote child literacy and has had live music, meet-and-greets with those in the comic book industry, other entertainment and sold inexpensive comic books.
Yambar said he expects about 600 people for his Sept. 5 event.
Yambar’s attorney, Denise Glinatsis Bayer, wrote Warner Bros. asking for them to refrain from using the name, donate comic books for his Lawn-Con or purchase the name from him.
Warner Bros.’ Lawn-Con, according to its website, is billed as a free, family-friendly exhibit set up outside Comic-Con in San Diego. Their event featured live music and memorabilia from shows and characters.
“One can acquire common law rights in a trademark simply by using that mark in connection with a good or service in commerce, which Chris has done,” Bayer said.