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Anime Boston Organizers Sue Boston AnimeFest for Similar Name

posted on by Karen Ressler
Boston AnimeFest to take place next weekend

The New England Anime Society (NEAS), the nonprofit that runs the Anime Boston convention, filed suit against Fantastic Gatherings Inc. and Interactive Meet and Greet Entertainment LLC (IMAGE) on Tuesday for using the "confusingly similar" event name Boston AnimeFest.

The full name of the defendants' event is Boston SouthCoast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza, but "Boston AnimeFest" will take place as part of the event. The website www.bostonanimefest.com redirects to to the event's website. NEAS asserts that consumers use both "Anime Boston" and "Boston Anime" to refer to its event, and has registered the www.bostonanime.com domain to redirect to the Anime Boston website.

NEAS sent a cease and desist letter to Fantastic Gatherings and IMAGE on November 6, but, according to the complaint, IMAGE maintained that the terms were generic and fell under fair use. NEAS further maintains that the choice of a similar name was intentional in order to create an association between the two events, and cited a Boston AnimeFest Facebook post that tagged Anime Boston.

NEAS' lawsuit requests that the defendants cease their use of the Anime Boston name "or any confusingly similar variation" and transfer the www.bostonanimefest.com domain name to NEAS. The lawsuit also seeks damages and attorneys' fees.

IMAGE's Gary Sohmers told The Daily Beast that one of his colleagues contacted Anime Boston when they selected the name, but Anime Boston took no action at the time. He further noted to Boston Business Journal that he considers the lawsuit "a frivolous action by a group attempting to bully us to control of the use of these two generic words in the marketplace," and said that he "probably cannot afford the expensive defense needed for such a malicious action on short notice."

Anime Boston President Chris O'Connell said in a statement that "NEAS is always enthusiastic about other organizations that support and promote the celebration of Japanese pop-culture... We hope that Fantastic Gatherings and IMAGE have a very successful event, but we think they should do so using their own trademark and not one that is confusingly similar to our mark and brand."

The Boston SouthCoast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza will take place December 9-10 in Hanover, Massachusetts. The event is a spinoff of NorthEast Comic Con, which has been running since 2014.

NEAS was founded in 2001, and runs the Anime Boston convention yearly in the spring. The nonprofit registered a trademark for "Anime Boston" in December 2014.

Sources: Boston Business Journal (Davd L. Harris), The Daily Beast (Kelly Weill)

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