3 Count: Disney Double Feature

Disney gets a turn on both sides of the aisle...

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1: Disney Finds It’s Not So Easy to Sue Over Knockoff Characters at Birthday Parties

First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Disney has suffered a setback in its lawsuit against Characters for Hire LLC (CFH) over their use of characters that closely mirrored ones owned by Disney.

According to Disney, CFH sends characters to customer’s parties that are dressed similarly to Disney-owned creations. For example, one CFH character is entitled “The Princess” but is dressed similarly to Princess Leia. Another is “Big Hairy Guy” and is similar to Chewbacca. This prompted Disney to sue for copyright and trademark infringement.

However, at the summary judgment phase, the judge has tossed most of those claims. Nearly all the trademark claims were tossed as Disney had no evidence of actual confusion as to the origin of the characters. The judge did allow trademark dilution claims to move forward, saying it was an issue of fact whether CFH’s use of these characters tarnished the reputation of Disney’s marks. The judge also refused to rule in favor of Disney on the copyright issues, saying that there is no admissible evidence that CFH participated in infringing content and there is an issue of fact over whether or not the characters are substantially similar.

2: Disney Fres Back at Michael Jackson’s Estate, asks Court to Reject Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Next up today, Nancy Dillon at the New York Daily News reports that Disney has responded to a lawsuit filed by the estate of Michael Jackson that accused the media giant of infringing Jackson’s music and other work when making a documentary about him.

The lawsuit was filed after Disney-owned ABC aired a special entitled The Last Days of Michael Jackson. The estate claimed that the documentary made use of Jackson’s music in an infringing way. Disney, however, has responded by filing a motion to dismiss. According to Disney, that they only made limited use of Jackson’s work and that it was important for the context of the project. As such, Disney claims that their use was a non-infringing fair use.

The estate, however, has responded calling the fair use argument “patently absurd” and noted that Disney has a long history of very zealous copyright enforcement. The judge has yet to rule on Disney’s motion.

3: PUBG: NetEase Masks Its Copyright Infringement With Game Updates

Finally today, Ernesto at Torrentfreak writes that the lawsuit between PUBG and NetEase is continuing with PUBG accusing the mobile game maker of updating its games in a bid to introduce new differences.

PUBG is the company behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a popular Battle Royale game that started the current trend of the genre. However, PUBG has recently taken to court to battle companies it believes are infringing upon its original creation, including the Chinese company NetEase. In its lawsuit, PUBG accused NetEase of copying significant portions of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds when making Rules of Survival and Knives Out, a pair of mobile games.

NetEase responded by saying that there are many differences between the games and that their work should not be seen as infringing. This prompted PUBG to hit back by saying that it’s the similarities, not the differences, at issue and that many of the differences were patched in after the lawsuit was filed.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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