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Disney Backs Down over 'Day of the Dead' Trademark Monopoly

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Monday May 13, 2013 at 5:20pm


Mighty film studio, Disney, has given in to pressure to drop its attempt to take exclusive legal ownership of the phrase “Day of the Dead”.

That, feared an angry army of online protesters, would have been the effect of securing a registered trade mark based on the name of the famous traditional Mexican festival.

The studio wanted to monopolise the name in advance of its upcoming animated film, in production under its Pixar title, and directed by Toy Story 3’s Lee Unkrich.

Disney aimed to register the trademark for a wide variety of goods, from snacks and TV dinners to decorations, toiletries and magnets.

Such is the legal power of a trade mark that had it proceeded to completion, any unauthorised use of the name for those goods, or for entertainment and education, would have infringed Disney’s rights… with legal proceedings likely to ensue.

Now, however, Disney has bowed to the howls of protest that claimed such a monopoly would be unfair and a step too far in the march of brand power.
In a terse statement, the studio said: "Disney's trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities. It has since been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing."

What this shows is the sensitivity of global brands and the power of trademarks, and how the weight of the law needs to be balanced with the force of public opinion.

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