Hot Mouse On Mau5 Action! Disney To Challenge Deadmau5's Latest Trademark Filing

from the rounded-ears-are-like-rounded-corners:-actionable dept

Disney is the country’s foremost copyright enthusiast, going so far as to have a law unofficially named for its most famous character, one whose very existence ensures the march towards copyright protection in perpetuity. But Disney is no slouch in the trademark department, especially if anything happens to slightly resemble its prized mouse.

Enter Deadmau5, DJ, producer and wearer of some of the most magnificent head accoutrements this side of pimps and/or Lady Gaga. Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman, has finally caught the attention of Disney’s IP lawyers with his latest trademark registration, a head-on view of his logo.

This logo, which Deadmau5 has used for years (trademark registrations for another view of the logo/headgear dates back to 2009), has been greeted with this.

On Friday, Disney let it be known at the U.S. Trademark Office that it is investigating a trademark registration filed by Deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”).

Compare the above with Disney’s infamous, undead mouse.

Sure, there’s some comparison but it would take serious myopia to confuse the two. For one, Disney’s exploitation of this iconic image has imprinted it on the minds (and wallets) of millions of people worldwide. Plus, every piece of merchandise marketed by the Disney Corporation also contains its equally ubiquitous Disney scrawl, letting the purchaser know that they’re paying too much for this otherwise unremarkable product.

But to hold a trademark means defending it, even when “defending” more often resembles “attacking” and when a moron in a hurry not only wouldn’t be confused, but would bypass both products in his haste to spread ignorance at the nearest water cooler/house party/comment thread. It’s totally within Disney’s rights to contest this, and to protect its most cherished piece of IP, there’s no way it won’t. As far as Disney is concerned, there’s only one mouse logo in the world and it already owns it.

[Besides, I’ve seen worse go unpunished. Of course, it helps that the album using this artwork was never released…]

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “Hot Mouse On Mau5 Action! Disney To Challenge Deadmau5's Latest Trademark Filing”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah it’s not quite as easy as Disney might like it to be, and hopefully that’s where Joel’s lawyers can have some fun. You see, Mickey can never, ever “die” because Disney has proven itself willing, capable, and effective in lobbying for enhanced copyright protection (fact). Thus, the iconography for a “Deadmau5” can, in no way, be seen as a conflict. This is quite obviously the image of a Deadmau5, not a perpetually alive mouse.

David says:

Re: In other news

Having carried off hundreds of live mice in traps, I can testify that head shape and most particularly ear shape of neither house mice, field mice, wood mice, brown rats and so on are anything like the rather similar Mickey Mouse and Deadmou5 ears. This is clearly an image allusion.

I can fully understand that Walt Disney Corporation, having likely paid billions of dollars in bribes over the years in order to corrupt copyright law into something robbing the public of the Public Domain, including the imagery of Mickey Mouse created by the long-deceased Walt Disney, wants to see something in return for their buyout of multiple congresses.

That logo clearly is a reference to the Mickey Mouse character, and as long as that character is kept in a zombified state where it is part of the cultural inheritage of America without being allowed to get referred, actions like Disney’s are fully legally supportable.

It’s a travesty of common sense, but a lot of money has paid to the people who can turn a travesty of common sense into binding law.

scotts13 (profile) says:

Yeah, me too.

It’s close. I wouldn’t confuse them; my first impression is of an attempt to circumvent Disney’s trademark. That is, to give the impression of “well-known cartoon mouse” without ACTUALLY being Mickey?.

Question is, will that be enough? Sorta like having the color blue on a beer label to suggest “cold.” Oh, wait…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yeah, me too.

Your point is interesting, and I think the origin of his name is more along the lines of actually finding a dead mouse in his computer or something. Guy is a way-back tech type of guy if I’ve heard right. Anyway, I’d almost like to see the Deadmau5 team bring in The Simpsons episode where Homer thinks they stole his face for Mr. Sparkle (“There’s your answer, fish-bulb”) – basically, Disney, the origin of the logo is independent of your property and was arrived at through an individual creative process. That is, you don’t own every single mouse looking logo in the world just because it has ears, eyes, and a mouth.

Or, to put it another way, “this one doesn’t even have a nose, jerks.”

LT says:

There is no question that Deadmau5 ripped-off the Disney logo (deliberately, or unconsciously).

This has been the Disney logo before most of us were born. You see a pair of round mouse ears, and you automatically think Mickey Mouse.

The reason Disney is just now noticing this… because Deadmau5 is pretty much unknown; it’s small, and Canadian … we’re not talking about a top-40 USA pop group here.

Deadmau5 has no chance in a legal battle. Disney lawyers will crush them. However, this will be good publicity for Deadmau5.

mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

you do realize that Disney has enough power to challenge ANY logo that looks even the tiniest bit similar? i took one look at the two and i could tell the deadmau5 head looks nothing like the Disney one. this is just another case of a big company going after a small artist or company just because they feel that their profits and image might be affected and why the hell would Disney, a company who does only kids and teens stuff go after a music producer who caters to adults? it makes no sense…..the only thing Disney stands to get out of this is the shutdown of a rising music producer!

Chris W says:


The best part of this whole thing is that technically Disney’s own copyright can be called into question because they didn’t follow the proper title card formatting according to the copyright law at the time of Steamboat Willie.

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