The Walt Disney Company has had to battle against vendors selling unlicensed Disney merchandise for a long time, but now, the battle is branching out to characters. Disney is not happy with people using their characters and having people pay for them to show up at children’s birthdays and other parties. Now, they’re cracking down on unlicensed characters and looking to squash unauthorized use of their intellectual property.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, this is one of those lawsuits that may not go away quickly as others have in the past. A lot of companies don’t have the manpower or money to fight a company such as Disney, but Characters for Hire, LLC is not planning on back down.
Nick Sarelli is the owner and operator of Characters For Hire, which “provides unlicensed and poor quality appearances and performances” by Disney characters. Some of those attending children’s birthday parties are characters from the Star Wars franchise and Disney’s Frozen, but there are also others.
Darth Vader, Anna and Elsa, and Iron Man are just some of those who can be hired for themed events and children’s parties.
The lawsuit from Disney claims that Sarelli’s company is a “knock-off business,” which builds its success on the “infringement” of Disney’s characters. Disney feels as if the advertisement of these characters and their appearances violates their trademark rights and copyrights.
Many companies that send out unlicensed Disney characters for hire will usually slightly change or alter the names. Some of the examples given in the lawsuit by Disney against Characters for Hire are listed below.
- Chewbacca as “Big Hairy Guy”
- Darth Vader as “Dark Lord”
- Darth Maul as “Mauler”
- Princess Leia as “Princess”
- Star Wars to “Star Battle”
As Disney prepares to fight for their intellectual properties and rights, Sarelli and his lawyers are starting to look into the situation. Characters for Hire is investigating just how much of the rights Disney actually controls in their claims.
Characters for Hire’s lawyers go back into ancient history and mythology to show that Disney’s claims on Marvel characters and Princesses may not be as strong as the company thinks.
“Here, CFH’s use of characters from Norse mythology, such as Thor and Loki, or centuries-old fairy tales and folk tales, like Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Aladdin and Princess Aurora do not infringe upon any original expression added by Plaintiffs to these public domain characters.”
The defendants state that almost all of Disney’s claims fail for exactly the same reason and that the major company’s trademarks are not infringed.
The Walt Disney Company is looking to keep its intellectual properties safe and their own while also not altering the mindsets of children. Characters for Hire, LLC is looking like they are not going to back down in this fight, but neither is Disney. No matter what, Disney doesn’t want unlicensed characters making appearances at birthday parties or other events if they’re not coming straight from them, and they’re willing to defend what they feel is theirs.
[Featured Image by Danny Cox]