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?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    johnjac (profile), Sep 11th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    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.

     

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  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 11th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Profits all around.

    Why doesn't Disney just ask Luxo to produce the lamp and slap a Disney/Pixar label on it? Profits all around.
    (duh)

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Disney Colored Glasses

    You think???

     

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  4.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Sep 11th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    "... And The Lawsuit Makes Sense"

    Yep, this is exactly the sort of situation trademark is supposed to cover. Disney's action and reaction is quite bizarre.

     

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  5.  
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    TheStupidOne, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Profits all around.

    too obvious for the suits to figure out

     

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  6.  
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    johnjac (profile), Sep 11th, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Profits all around.

    Looking on Amazon, this looks like a plastic toy basically. Had they called this a toy and not a lamp they may have gotten away with it.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 2:12pm

    A red letter day!

    A lawsuit that makes sense. Is the world ending?

     

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  8.  
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    scarr (profile), Sep 11th, 2009 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Profits all around.

    I doubt you're the first person to have that idea.

     

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  9.  
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    diff, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Disney's got some cajones

    Wow. I'm not sure what's more surprising: The fact that none of the legal people at Disney thought that this might be an issue; or the fact that Disney is selling this "inferior quality" lamp along with a DVD for $120.

     

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  10.  
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    Glaze, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Re: A red letter day!

    Yup... Wednesday was the end of the world as we all know it, and yes hell hath definitely frozen over.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    I guess certain attorney's in Disney's employ have never heard of clearing a trademark before adopting it. Clearly someone was asleep at the switch.

     

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  12.  
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    HtR, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    spencerMatthewP, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    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.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Re:

    Actually, they should have....the modelled the original character after a Luxo lamp, the reason why the short was called 'Luxo Jr.'. Of course this way back when Pixar was a independant, fledgeling company.....

     

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  15.  
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    Howard B, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 3:22pm

    From my experience, Disney pretty much does whatever they please. Barring that, it could also be that someone from their usually shark-like legal department simply dropped the ball somewhere.

     

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  16.  
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    BWilliams (profile), Sep 11th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    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.

     

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  17.  
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    Darren M, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    Perhaps it was on purpose

    Imagine making such an obvious legal blunder and all the free media coverage that comes with that. Strike a deal with the lamp maker and your marketing campaign is underway.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Why did Disney do it?

    Because the D is short for devil, and the isney is there as bull shit to distract you from that.

     

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  19.  
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    Dohn Joe, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 5:16pm

    Because...

    "Disney don't roll that way"

     

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  20.  
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    Mr Big Content, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 6:00pm

    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.

     

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  21.  
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    Casey, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    RE: It’s All Quite Simple, Really

    It's a sad commentary that your scenario might actually be used by Disney lawyers

     

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  22.  
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    DMNTD, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 6:10pm

    Re: RE: It�s All Quite Simple, Really

    Even though its backwards.

     

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  23.  
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    Vikram Rajan, Sep 11th, 2009 @ 6:48pm

    PIXAR lamp

    or just call it the Disney Pixar Lamp.. that seems more obv

     

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  24.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Sep 11th, 2009 @ 6:57pm

    Luxo shouldn't sue, but get even.

    I think Luxo should give away free Pixar movies (via a DVD copy) with every lamp purchased.

    Hey, what's good for the goose, right?

     

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  25.  
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    Andy (profile), Sep 12th, 2009 @ 12:24am

    Re:

    Not only do Disney do what they like, they usually have the law behind them and I guess by now they figure that the law really exists to protect Disney period.

    It's no myth that the "motto" inside that company is: "You don't f*ck with the Mouse"!

     

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  26.  
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    ..., Sep 12th, 2009 @ 6:30am

    Re: It�s All Quite Simple, Really

    You forgot the sarcasm tag

     

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  27.  
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    ..., Sep 12th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    You save $79

    Wow, what a deal ! It was $200 /s

     

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  28.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 3:41am

    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...

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    synergy for Luxo and Disney.

    If I was Luxo I would be happy that Disney is promoting your product in such a highly visible position and positively. But it is a dam shame for Disney to just start making a lamp and selling it as a Luxo. You would think this would have been an excellent opportunity for synergy.

     

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  30.  
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    known coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 9:00am

    I can't believe i am the first to say it

    I bet it was approved by some mickey mouse in the legal dept.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:45pm

    Re: synergy for Luxo and Disney.

    missing /s

     

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  32.  
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    WannabeSmart, Oct 11th, 2009 @ 8:49am

    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.

     

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  33.  
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    D.Kichi, Nov 27th, 2009 @ 2:34am

    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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  34.  
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    Lurking Coward, May 16th, 2011 @ 11:19am

    Disney has violated MY trademark

    my penis has been named "Mickey, the one-eyed trouser Mouse" for over 50 years. So all their movies are pr0n. You just don't see the subliminals.

     

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  35.  
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    DogBreath, May 16th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re: Disney has violated MY trademark

    So that explains how the boat "Steamboat Willie" got it's name. Thanks for finally posting that, the subliminal trivia fans will go nuts for this factoid.

     

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  36.  
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    Lee'Nasia, Sep 19th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    Disney!

    thats sum BULL FUCKING SHIT BITCH!

     

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  37.  
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    Dr Evil, May 18th, 2012 @ 6:12am

    yelling infringement in a crowded theater

    Disney should have to pay $150,000 per infringing copy and give up their domain name.

     

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