New England Anime Society, Inc. v. Fantastic Gatherings, Inc. et al. (17-cv-12339).

New England Anime Society (NEAS”) sued Fantastic Gatherings and Interactive Meet and Greet for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and cybersquatting. NEAS holds a three day convention every spring, known as “Anime Boston,” to celebrate Japanese pop-culture, including anime, manga, J-Pop, J-Rock, and live-action Japanese media.  NEAS registered the ANIME BOSTON mark and has used it in connection with this convention for sixteen years.  The event garners publicity through NEAS’ promotional efforts, news coverage, and social media, and is attended by more than twenty-five thousand people from all over the world. NEAS alleges that the defendants have developed and are promoting an event to take place in Hanover, Massachusetts.  The formal name of the event is Boston SouhCoast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza, but is allegedly being promoted by the defendants as “Boston AnimeFest” and “Boston Anime Fest,” and the website relating to the event is at www.bostonanimefest.com, which redirects to the defendants’ webpage at www.necomicon.net. Fantastic Gatherings, the company actually sponsoring the event, is alleged to have direct knowledge of NEAS’ marks, because two of its officers and directors previously worked as volunteers for NEAS.  In response to a cease and desist letter, the defendants asserted that the terms ‘Boston” and “Anime” “fall into fair use as generic when used together in either order.”  NEAS asserts, however, that the PTO registered the mark after determining that the mark had acquired distinctiveness through the years of NEAS’ use.  NEAS asserts that the defendants deliberately chose a confusingly similar mark to ride on the coattails of NEAS and its anime festival.

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