Disney Sued For Selling The Pixar Lamp… And The Lawsuit Makes Sense

from the ok,-here-we-go... dept

We usually focus on trademark lawsuits that make no sense at all… but effective trademark law exists to prevent confusion among consumers (i.e., it’s really more of a consumer protection law, rather than an “intellectual property” law) and thus there are plenty of reasonable trademark infringement lawsuits out there. This appears to be one of them. Lamp maker Luxo is apparently suing Disney for selling real versions of Pixar’s iconic computer animated lamp. Pixar, of course, has long used the lamp as a part of its logo:

At first, I thought perhaps Luxo was suing Disney because of the similarities to Luxo’s lamps. But the issue is that Disney is now selling a real version of the Pixar lamp… and bizarrely decided to market it as “The Luxo Jr.” Yes, everyone admits that John Lasseter designed the lamp to look like the Luxo lamp, but why call it that when selling it? It’s amazing that of all the trademark lawyers at Disney, none of them suspected there might be a complaint from the real Luxo, if Disney were to sell a lamp using the Luxo name. This is a situation where not only a moron in a hurry, but your everyday lamp buyer, might reasonably assume that the Disney Luxo Jr. lamp is actually made by Luxo.

So, two questions: who at Disney allowed this to go forward? And why didn’t Disney and Luxo just do the most obvious thing and have Luxo make the lamps for Disney?

Filed Under: ,
Companies: disney, luxo, pixar

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Comments on “Disney Sued For Selling The Pixar Lamp… And The Lawsuit Makes Sense”

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37 Comments
johnjac (profile) says:

Disney Colored Glasses

Given this story and the Ellen DeGeneres story I’m starting to think that ‘intellectual property owners’ tend to see the world through glassed tinted by their own ‘intellectual property.’ That everywhere they look they only see the world as it relates to (and copies) their IP, and they are unable to see the IP of belonging to anyone else.

HtR says:

The name of the original short film with the lamp made by Pixar was called “Luxo Jr.”. Personally, I had no idea that Luxo was the name of an actual lamp company, so I can imagine that someone at Disney approved this without realizing it either. Still, before manufacturing and selling a new product, you would think this is the kind of thing they would check out.

spencerMatthewP says:

I hate to say it ...

This may be an example of why there is such a large amount of over-zealous trade mark protection. Luxo the lamp company did not sue Pixar when it became famous using the Luxo Jr. logo. (At that point in time it had not bee absorbed by Disney.) It’s pretty obvious that would not pass the moron in a hurry test. No one would confuse the lamp maker with the Computer animation company at that point.
Unfortunately, that may have lead Disney to believe that Luxo did not have a problem with them using they’re trademarked look (or name) in a product. Now, they take it too far.
It’s unfortunate, but I can see the flow of logic here. It’s like when mom says it’s okay to have a cookie, so it must be okay to have two (or three). This sucks all the way around because now it will be held up as a shining example of why companies need to protect their TMs at all cost to prevent someone from encroaching on their turf. Sad really.

BWilliams (profile) says:

It does seem pretty strange...

I don’t think anybody was thinking in this case. Obviously Luxo should have been the one to make the lamp and then there wouldn’t have been any issue – but seriously, disney who is so crazy about their own trademarks should know better. I wouldn’t create a stuffed mouse and sell it as mickey jr. that’s for sure.

Mr Big Content says:

It’s All Quite Simple, Really

Think of it this way: Disney are a content company. They own the copyright on “Luxo, Jr”. Luxo are a company that makes lamps; they own the trademark on the name “Luxo”.

So Disney are selling this lamp as content. Therefore they’re entitled to apply their “Luxo, Jr” copyright, since the lamp is clearly a derivative work copied from the film. If Luxo try to stop them on the grounds of trademark infringement, then they’re infringing Disney’s copyright.

So you see, the Intellectual Property law is quite clear-cut, once you learn how to properly apply it in this case.

Enrico Suarve says:

Right back 'atcha

Does anyone else relish listening to the arguments from Disney’s lawyers then applying them to cases from Disney’s past? ;0)

Hold tight onto them and get ready to use them in future – by opening this door Disney’s own lawyers are stepping into a minefield and hopefully the rest of the world will be able to follow them through it…

WannabeSmart says:

Hummm

Just to try to imagine what may have crossed the mind of law people at Disney…
I would like to know if there was, and wat kind of agreement existed between Pixar and Luxo at the time of the production of the animation film “Luxo Jr.”. Let’s say that Luxo agreed at that time that the character named “Luxo Jr.” was property of Pixar, Disney lawyers may have thought that selling related products to the character would not lead to contestation they could not overcome.

D.Kichi says:

Luxo Jr. et al

As someone who’s worked for Disney and now hates them with a passion because they are pretentious dictators who hire nice ppl like myself and turn us into angry anti-disney haters while they’re pretending to have the customer’s best interest when it’s really money that they are after. I hope to god Luxo gets a big generous settlement because Disney is an evil empire that needs to be taught a lesson for once. The world would be a better place if Disney were sued more often and lost to whoever sued them esp. the little people.

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