Pixar Trademark Lawyers Being Kept Busy: Fighting Pixar Petroleum, While Being Fought By The Atlanta Braves Over 'Brave'

from the brave-pixar dept

It appears that Disney’s Pixar division is engaged in two separate, but interesting, trademark battles (though the two are quite different). The first involves a Canadian oil company that decided to call its new division Pixar Petroleum. Turns out that Pixar isn’t happy about that and is taking legal action. One of the points raised is that Pixar chief John Lasseter is a big proponent of alternative fuels and may not like any association with an oil company. Of course, that alone doesn’t make for a reasonable trademark claim. In fact, I’m wondering if there is a reasonable trademark claim here at all. Trademarks cover the specific industries in which you use the mark in commerce, and despite movies like Cars, it seems like a pretty big reach to suggest that digital animation studio Pixar is in the same industry as oil producing Pixar. While it might cause a doubletake, I’m not sure that any of your traditional morons in a hurry would actually think that the characters from Toys were setting up oil refineries in Canada.

In this second dispute, Pixar finds itself on the other side of the coin. The major league baseball team, the Atlanta Braves, are apparently trying to dispute Pixar’s attempt to register Brave as a trademark. Pixar wants the name because it’s releasing a movie with that name. Of course, the baseball team doesn’t actually hold a registered trademark on just “Brave.” Instead its registered marks are on the plural version. This doesn’t entirely exclude their protest, as they can argue a common law trademark or a likelihood of confusion.

Either way, I’m at a loss as to where the confusion would be here as well. I don’t see anyone going to see the Pixar movie and then being disappointed that it wasn’t a baseball game.

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Companies: atlanta braves, disney, pixar, pixar petroleum

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Comments on “Pixar Trademark Lawyers Being Kept Busy: Fighting Pixar Petroleum, While Being Fought By The Atlanta Braves Over 'Brave'”

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dave says:

i dunno, the word “pixar” in itself is unique enough that it could be seen as the oil company trying to cash in on pixar’s brand name. what’s a “pixar” EXCEPT for a pretty good animated movie company?

“marvel” (as mentioned above) is a generic english word, why would that be protected. but “pixar” is not. it’s specifically the name of a company and nothing else. i think pixar has a case here.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Regardless of the idea that Pixar may be a made up name the fact remains that you can’t confuse Pixar animation with Pixar oil. They’re in entirely different industries with entirely different products and markets.

I have to admit, though that it’s amusing to think of someone doing that. “Can I get $50 of Pixar Supreme and a copy of Cars by paying at the pump?”

As for the Brave vs Braves silliness it’s much the same thing. Just how do you confuse a movie title with a baseball team? Indeed one of the most successful teams in MLB.

At a really big stretch I can see the team believing that somehow the trade mark on the movie name could damage them should the movie tank. (Pixar might be due for one of those, after all.) Or that they’re linked in some way. Maybe Disney needs to buck up for product placement or something!

Kyle C. says:


This article fails to address dilution and the jurisdictional reach of Pixar’s claims. I don’t know much about Canadian TM law, but in the U.S., I think Pixar has a strong dilution claim. The mark has unquestionably become famous, there is a likely association, and this use may blur or tarnish the mark. No one would think to start “McDonalds Petroleum” (more famous of course, but still Pixar’s films are world-famous for extremely high quality).

Dilution is likely the best claim for the Atlanta Braves, but until this lawsuit, I never made the association. I associate “Brave” with the definition for “brave.” It’s not a strong fanciful mark like “Pixar.” Then again, I know little about how dilution factors into oppositions.

So yes, I criticizing the article’s writer for clearly limited grasp on TM law. Dilution dilution dilution.

Michael R. Graham (profile) says:

Home Of the Free?

The Atlanta Braves’ challenge is a terrific (literally and ironically) example of the problem in utilizing a term with a dictionary meaning as a trademark — it can lead to an unfair monopolization of the word beyond the goods and services for which limited trademark rights exist. It also demonstrates a terrible lack of perspective by the Braves — not a brave thing to do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Connect the dots....

Pixar creates films.
Film is created from Petroleum (among other things).
Pixar Petroleum processes petroleum and decides to create film as one of it’s sub-divisions.
Film created from Pixar Petroleum’s sub-division, could be sold as “A Pixar Film”…


Even a Moron in a Hurry could be confused into buying a canister of blank “Pixar Film” thinking that they were actually buying a movie from Pixar Studios….

Oh, everything’s digital these days, guess this application of the ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Methodology’ doesn’t hold water….

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