Disney has long been known to aggressively pursue its copyrights against any infringing person or entity. From unauthorized t-shirt vendors to musicians like deadmau5, Disney takes a forceful approach to pursuing alleged copyright infringers.
Disney’s aggressive stance may have caused the company significant problems overseas after the company found itself on the wrong side of a licensing and naming dispute.
In 2005, European music festival promoter, ID&T, wanted to bring its famous Tomorrowland music festival to the United States. It was met with swift legal response from Disney, which made it clear that the company has owned the name Tomorrowland since the 1970s. Disney’s Tomorrowland is a themed area found in each of its five amusement parks throughout the world. Disney refused to let ID&T use the name for its music festival in the United States, so the festival changed its name to TomorrowWorld.
Now, Disney is planning the release of a movie called Tomorrowland, featuring actors George Clooney and Hugh Laurie. The movie is scheduled to be released on May 22, 2015, and the release is on a very tight schedule. However, ID&T owns the rights to the name “Tomorrowland” in several European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. ID&T has turned the tables on Disney, refusing to let the movie maker use the rights to “Tomorrowland” in those parts of Europe.
Disney is now faced with the option of either a lengthy legal battle over the naming rights or negotiating a compromise with ID&T. Because of the history of the two companies, it seems that Disney may need to either pay a hefty price for the naming rights, or revamp its publicity for the movie’s worldwide release in less than a month.
Trademark enforcement is an important part of running a successful business or company. While Disney is known for being overzealous at times, its attorneys understand that failing to enforce a trademark can seriously hurt a company’s profitability.
If you are using a trademarked image or logo, you are educating customers to identify your brand. When other people use the same or similar images, customers may get confused or wrongly equate your brand with a different product.
Additionally, if the owner of a trademark fails to enforce the trademark, the owner may lose the rights to that trademark entirely. A trademark can be abandoned if it is not enforced, or the trademark may become so generic that it loses its meaning as a trademark entirely. For example, Bayer’s trademarked name of “Aspirin” eventually became so generic that it lost all meaning as a brand name. For that reason, Disney has to enforce its trademarks vigorously.
While most people in the entertainment industry have not created trademarks as famous as Disney characters, the same rules still apply. If some other entity is using your trademark, you should enforce your rights to your intellectual property. If you don’t, you may find that you no longer own your trademark.
If you believe someone has infringed on your trademark, or you are unsure about your legal rights, contact the experienced trademark and intellectual property attorneys at Pierce Law Group LLC. We can help you determine your options, and make sure your rights are protected.
To schedule your free consultation, call (310) 274-9191, or visit us online at www.piercelawgroupllp.com.