December 11, 2017: Jury Sides With San Diego Comic-Con in Trademark Dispute, Silicon Valley Holiday Parties Are Paying Models to Attend, Smaller Ski Resorts Gain Traction in U.S. and Canada

1. JURY SIDES WITH SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON IN TRADEMARK DISPUTE: A jury on Friday sided with San Diego Comic-Con in a court dispute with a Salt Lake City pop culture convention over the use of the trademark "comic con." Associated Press: "The panel decided that Salt Lake Comic Con used the trademarked phrase without permission, though they didn’t do so willfully. The panel awarded the California event $20,000, far less than the $12 million they’d sought. 'From the beginning all that we asked of the defendants was to stop using our Comic-Con trademarks,' the San Diego Comic Convention said in a statement. 'Today we obtained a verdict that will allow us to achieve this.' Utah co-founder Dan Farr told Salt Lake City TV station KUTV they plan to appeal. Lawyers for the well-known San Diego convention argued during the trial that the upstart event in Salt Lake stole their name to benefit from their reputation built over years of hard work, Salt Lake City-based newspaper The Deseret News reported. ... The event that’s considered the flagship of the popular convention circuit filed a trademark violation lawsuit against the rapidly growing Salt Lake convention in 2014. Their request for $12 million in damages included a $9 million advertising campaign to clear up any confusion. Salt Lake, though, maintains the phrase is a generic shortened form of 'comic book convention' and used by 140 events around the country. Salt Lake organizers saw dozens of unaffiliated events using the term and genuinely thought it was usable when they named their event in 2013, co-founder Bryan Brandenburg testified."

2. SILICON VALLEY HOLIDAY PARTIES ARE PAYING MODELS TO ATTEND: Amid the slew of sexual harassment scandals happening in the U.S.—which is leading companies to tone down holiday parties this year—Silicon Valley companies are paying models to attend their holiday soirees. Bloomberg: "Local modeling agencies, which work with Facebook- and Google-size companies as well as much smaller businesses and the occasional wealthy individual, say a record number of tech companies are quietly paying $50 to $200 an hour for each model hired solely to chat up attendees. For a typical party, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 8, Cre8 Agency LLC is sending 25 women and 5 men, all good-looking, to hang out with 'pretty much all men' who work for a large gaming company in San Francisco, says Cre8 President Farnaz Kermaani. The company, which she wouldn’t name, has handpicked the models based on photos, made them sign nondisclosure agreements, and given them names of employees to pretend they’re friends with, in case anyone asks why he’s never seen them around the foosball table. 'The companies don’t want their staff to be talking to someone and think, Oh, this person was hired to socialize with me,' says Kermaani, who’s sending models to seven tech parties in the same weekend. While this sounds crazy after a year packed with harrowing stories of sexual harassment, abuse, and discrimination—a tidal wave that started in San Francisco, with Uber Technologies Inc.—it’s part of an older trend. Tech companies have long used models to run their booths at trade shows such as CES in Las Vegas, hype up crowds at product launches, and direct foot traffic at conferences. That said, this year’s record-setting requests for the minglers, known as 'ambiance and atmosphere models,' are a step beyond what the industry has seen before, says Chris Hanna, who’s run TSM Agency since 2004 and counts among his clients 'one of the largest search engines in the world.'"

3. SMALLER SKI RESORTS GAIN TRACTION IN U.S. AND CANADA: While major ski resorts in Aspen and Vail are always a draw for winter travelers, smaller ski resorts are becoming more popular as they offer lower prices, new restaurants and bars, and even golf. The New York Times: "A total of 479 ski resorts operated last winter in the United States, according to the National Ski Areas Association, tallying 54.7 million skier and snowboarder visits, up 3.7 percent from the previous year. However, it’s the many the underdogs—smaller operators ranging from city neighbors like Mountain Creek in Vernon, N.J., to remote snow-blessed areas like Wolf Creek Ski Area in Southern Colorado—that play an important role in the ski universe, often as teaching hills and budget alternatives. 'The substantial percentage of the most die-hard skiers started somewhere small,' said Evan Reece, the chief executive and co-founder of Liftopia, an online service offering discounts on lift tickets, equipment rentals and more. When it comes to beginner lessons, small ski areas are 'lower cost, higher touch and require less commitment,' he added. While single-day lift passes can cost more than $150 at major resorts, access tends to be cheaper at lesser-known areas. And resorts within driving distance spare skiers airline tickets, expenses that particularly add up when it comes to family ski trips. In West Virginia, just over two hours from Washington, D.C., Canaan Valley Resort dangles the proposition of a two-season vacation. It will keep its golf course open this winter, weather permitting, for the first time, potentially offering visitors the chance to ski and tee up on the same day. The resort also increased its snow-making capacity by 140 percent over the past two years. The runs, with an 850-foot vertical drop, overlook the valley floor, home to the 18-hole golf course."


Bob Lozier, former executive vice president of sales and director of the Freeman Company, passed away December 7 after a long-term illness. 


ATLANTA:  The Social Shake-Up Show, a social-media marketing conference, will take place May 7-9 at the Marriott Marquis Atlanta. Representatives from companies including Twitter, Yelp, Microsoft, Airbnb, and Google will speak at the event. 

CHICAGO:  Oakbrook Center has debuted an outdoor ice-skating rink to complement its holiday market this season. The rink will be open through February 28. 

LOS ANGELES:  Candytopia, an interactive, Instagram-friendly, candy-theme museum curated by Jackie Sorkin and Zac Hartog, opens Friday at L.A. Hangar Studios.

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  Highgate’s Washington Park Hotel has appointed Gabriel Perez general manager and Louis Escoto director of sales and marketing. 

Sports Illustrated has partnered with Nomadic Entertainment Group, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, and Revelry Eleven to host the inaugural SI Swimsuit Island festival February 16-18 in Miami Beach. The festival promises live performances by musical acts, high-end culinary offerings, fan activations, panels by swimsuit models, and celebrity guest appearances. The festival also will launch “Good Vibes,” a charitable gala that will benefit hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean. 

NEW YORK:  “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest” will host its second annual V.I.P. party, powered by Security Benefit, on December 31 at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square. The event will include appearances by Nick Jonas and Sugarland. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  A culinary competition organized by Visit Orlando to select the region's signature dish has resulted in a win for chef Catherine Delrieu of Mon Petit Cheri. Delrieu's dish, "Orlando's Honey Nougat Glacé," is an Italian meringue prepared with honey, nougat, and fruit confit on a red berries sorbet. The judging involved public voting as well as panel of judges that included two-time James Beard Award winner chef Art Smith. The entries had to be desserts that include local honey as an ingredient and are available in a restaurant or food venue. 

TORONTO:  12 Beers of the Holidays, a beer-tasting event featuring 12 local breweries, will take place December 22 at the Gladstone Hotel. 

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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