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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 12:19am

    Pixar's not going to win against Pixar Petroleum.
    Marvel Comics tried to stop Marvel Mystery Oil and failed. Since the two companies had NO competing products, there was no trademark confusion!
    Same thing here.

     

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  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 2:15am

    IIRC Pixar Petroleum changed their name from Paramount.

    Or something like that.

     

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  3.  
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    Zimzat (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 2:52am

    Re:

    Indeed.

    They're also not going to win the one regarding the Atlanta Braves either. Have you seen the trailer for the Brave movie? Pretty sure I didn't see an Indian or game of Baseball there.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 3:12am

    Re:

    Marvel is an English word though. Pixar isn't a word and I'm being serious when I say that because it's an invented word that I would associate anything using the word Pixar to be related to Disney's Pixar.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 3:13am

    It's a no holds barred, triple threat, trademark match. Only way to win is by submission.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 3:35am

    Re:

    Next they will be Tri-Star petroleum.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 3:37am

    Brave™
    Violet™
    Apple™

    This™is™getting™ridiculous,™soo n™there™will™be™no™more™words™for™common™use&t rade;:)

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 3:42am

    I think I will open a store named "The" :)

     

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  9.  
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    Machin Shin, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:10am

    Base Ball

    "I don't see anyone going to see the Pixar movie and then being disappointed that it wasn't a baseball game."

    I can see someone going to a baseball game and being disappointed they didn't go to a Pixar movie instead. Maybe that is what they are afraid of.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    I will open a store across the street names "And The" and we can happily sue each other ever after!

     

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  11.  
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    The eejit (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re:

    Then I'll have "And The Other".

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    dave, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:40am

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    Kevin Stapp (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:09am

    Brave?

    Anyone else troubled by the idea of trademark of a common word? Is it even necessy to create a trademark on something as transient as a movie?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Colin, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:43am

    Re: Brave?

    Is it even necessy to create a trademark on something as transient as a movie?

    Isn't that what copyright is for? To make movies less transient and more...forever?

     

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  15.  
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    Bryan O'Doyle, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:48am

    While their busy I'll quitly open a homey little neighbourhood hardware store, *Pix R Us*. And use a pick on those cocksuckers if they pick on me.

    Oh, wait. Nah, I have more productive and fun things to do, like coding. *Sigh*

     

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  16.  
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    Bryan O'Doyle, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:50am

    FTFM : they're. No their, there.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Bryan O'Doyle, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:54am

    You have been trolled by a double puntendre.

    Now back to work, seriously. I promise. HA.

     

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  18.  
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    Falindraun (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 7:49am

    As far as the Pixar vs. Oil company bit I could see how somebody might get confused. Daewoo comes to mind they made cars, electronics, highways and skyscrapers, and even managed hotels. So it wouldnt surprise me to see a company branch out into other areas of industry.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daewoo

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Just wait till Hustler releases "This Ain't Brave".

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Kyle C., Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:27am

    Dilution?

    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.

     

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  21.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:41am

    "Toys"? Don't you mean "Toy Story"?

     

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  22.  
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    ShellMG, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:48am

    This is why automotive companies now come up with names like the Lincoln MKV, the Cadillac CTS, BMW X3 and so on. Unless it's a legacy model you get an alphabet soup and fewer legal challenges.

    Pixar's working title for Brave was "The Bear and the Bow." Maybe they should've kept it?

     

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  23.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:52am

    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!

     

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  24.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Re: Brave?

    Probably for post release products such as toys and things and other such tripe your kid will want with his happy meal.

     

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  25.  
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    Michael R. Graham, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:48am

    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.

     

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  26.  
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    MrWilson, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Brave?

    Copyright doesn't cover titles of works, so trademark seems like the only thing to stop someone else from using your title's franchise brand recognition.

     

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  27.  
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    BeeAitch (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Dilution?

    No one would think to start "McDonalds Petroleum"...


    ...except maybe a guy with the last name "McDonald"? :)

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Griff, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 3:34pm

    Re:

    Marvel Oil also predates Marvel Comics and it's predecessor, Timely Publications/Atlas Comics, by a good 15 years.

    Marvel Oil/Turtle Wax could have probably had this thrown out simply based on prior use of the name.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Jeon, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:23pm

    so I can sell my small headrest?

    I call it the micro-soft pillow

     

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  30.  
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    Jimmy, Dec 24th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Right!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Kyle C., Dec 26th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Dilution?

    Hahaha, I'm sure that he would. Good call. 1) Surnames aren't registrable under U.S. federal law. without proof of secondary meaning. 2) It being the last name of the owner would not preclude McDonalds from earning an injunction through the dilution statute...

    Yes, I'm humorless. :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    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"...

    BaDaBing...BaDaBoom...

    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....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous G, Dec 30th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Horrible.

    Trademarking "Brave"? No one should have that. Consider: If "Brave" had been trademarked years ago, the cartoon "BraveStar" and the movie "BraveHeart" would have been sued out of existence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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