Disney is finding it more difficult than anticipated to sue third parties that allegedly violate the use of its trademarked characters at birthday parties. The California-based entertainment company lost a summary judgement against a company in New York that sent characters with names like "The Princess," "The Duck" and "Big Harry Guy" to birthday parties. Disney claims the characters are meant to trick customers into thinking they are well-known trademarked property.
The New York federal judge who refused to rule in favor of Disney claimed that the birthday party characters didn't infringe on the company's trademark rights because there wasn't adequate evidence of competition or confusion. Children may believe that they are seeing an actual Disney character, but since adults are the ones paying for the services, it's only their perception that counts.
According to court reports, the only instance in which Disney had anecdotal evidence of confusion was when some adults referred to the party characters by Disney names. The judge, however, didn't find this evidence compelling enough to grant judgement in their favor. The judge denied Disney's claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin, but the claim of dilution has yet to be decided.
Individuals or companies who are involved in a dispute involving intellectual property rights may wish to obtain support and guidance from a law firm. Lawsuits involving trademarks, copyrights and other IP law can be very complex, and winning a suit might require extensive experience and expertise in this area.
Article Source Web Link: The Hollywood Reporter, "Disney Finds It's Not So Easy to Sue Over Knockoff Characters at Birthday Parties", Eriq Gardner, 08/13/2018