In 2014, a Canadian artist who performs in a mouse helmet tried to register his logo in the US. He sought to use his logo to merchandise electronic equipment and BMX bikes. Disney tried to block the action.
The company maintained that his helmet was “nearly identical in appearance, connotation and overall commercial impression to Disney’s mouse ears” and would thus cause confusion and damage its brand. It filed an official opposition in September that year, presenting the trademark office with a comparison of its own three-circle mouse ears logo.
“Mickey Mouse is recognised as among the greatest animated characters of all time,” the company said.
Deadmau5, also known as Joel Zimmerman, responded with a cease-and-desist letter alleging that Disney has used his song “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” without permission in its “Disney Re-Micks”.
Zimmerman’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, said in a statement that her client was being bullied by Disney and that he was prepared to fight to protect his rights to his property.
“[We] wonder why Disney is only now coming after Deadmau5, given the symbol had been registered in 30 countries and had been used for a decade,” she said.
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During the dispute, Deadmau5 tweeted that Mickey needed to “lawyer up”. He said: “Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician/performer with a cartoon mouse. That’s how stupid they think you are.”
landed home to some interesting news: looks like Disney officially just filed in opposition of my trademark… lawyer up mickey.
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) September 3, 2014
He also stoked the fire by submitting more than 1,000 pages of material to the trademark office, alleging that Disney had sought to collaborate with him on a number of projects, including the scoring of a live concert series commemorating the 75th anniversary of Fantasia.
TOTALLY NOT CONFUSING OR ANYTHING. now… just give me my trademark, and move along. pic.twitter.com/pf9LE9ZVU7
— deadmau5 (@deadmau5) October 14, 2014
He was also offered the opportunity to produce the theme music for Disney’s new animated series Star Wars Rebels. According to Billboard, that part of the company had not been aware that its parent company had been investigating the trademark.
Zimmerman hoped that examples of Disney’s willingness to work with him would count against Disney’s argument.
A lawyer has, however, reportedly told The Hollywood Reporter that “Disney and Deadmau5 have amicably resolved their dispute“.
Details of the settlement are not yet available but Disney is expected to withdraw its arguments. Zimmerman also pulled back from threats made against the producer of Deadmouse: the Musical, described as a tale of a mouse who wants to be a house DJ but is discriminated against for being a mouse.
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