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Disney sues online retailers over sales of imitation Mickey ears and other merchandise

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Disney sues online retailers over sales of imitation Mickey ears and other merchandise
Credit: Disney

If you’re planning a Disney trip, or are just a Disney lover in general, you already know that the internet is overflowing with plenty of Disney inspired merchandise. Now, a new lawsuit has been filed by The Disney Corporation against a Kissimmee based online seller that is producing and selling merchandise containing copyrighted Disney images and characters. What are your thoughts on Disney’s stance on the sale of imitation merchandise?

Knockoff merchandise sales

Credit: Jamie F

The Disney Corporation has filed a lawsuit against an online retailer that Disney officials claim have continued to produce and sell counterfeit goods based on Disney merchandise.

The companies “The Secret Disney Group” and “Popsella Marketplace” have been named in the lawsuit.

Credit: Monica

The merchandise in question includes face masks, hair accessories, stickers, decals, key chains, hats, buttons, fanny packs, magnets, and of course, Mickey ears.

The lawsuit alleges that Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, and Stitch are featured on several of these goods, without permission from The Disney Corporation.

The Disney Corporation is seeking to stop these companies and individuals from using their trademarks and copyrighted properties.

Online sales

Credit: KtP

Disney believes that The Secret Disney Group and Popsella Marketplace used several online platforms when selling their Disney based merchandise. The lawsuit alleges these companies utilized Etsy, eBay, Amazon, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.

Disney alleges the companies used trademarked Disney logos and designs without permission.

The Disney Corporation first attempted to halt Disney inspired sales by The Secret Disney Group and Popsella Marketplace in December 2021. Disney officials sent multiple cease-and-desist letters to the owners of the online retailers.

However, these orders did not stop these sales. Disney alleges in the lawsuit that the online retailer businesses continued to sell the imitation merchandise, but under several different names. The lawsuit claims the defendant used “Sparkling Dreamers” and “Sparkling Members,” as alternative company names, among others.

source: Clickorlando

What are your thoughts on this new lawsuit filed by Disney? Let us know in the comments below.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Steamboat Willie will be olpublic domain. But honestly it should stay with Disney. It does not belong to any one else. Public Domain is stupid.

  2. Yeah that’s not how it works. There is an “intended use” clause that’s very gray but essentially it means that if you buy fabric or whatever that has the images, logos, etc. on it then it was designed for a specific personal use and not commercial use. Using it commercially is a violation of copyright law. I knew someone who legally bought Coca Cola and John Deere license plates turned them into birdhouse roofs and sold a lot of them and then was shut down under the same “intended use” clause.

  3. That’s what I’m trying to figure out because you can buy Disney printed fabrics, card stick , button , toys abs such from craft stores , Walmart target etc.. once I pay for it I should be able to create what I like.

  4. Mickey mouse should already be in the public domain. But yet Disney puts lobbyist in place so that Mickey mouse is still in their domain. Mickey mouse should be ours to make new stories with. It should be released to public domain already. I don’t feel sorry for Disney losing money. Or that their stupid remakes and new stories are boring. Disney is slowly losing money. Unless they make actual good quality stories then they’ll shrivel up and die as a company. They’re using what little cash grab attempts they can.

  5. Legally, Disney is in the right. They also have warnings, so their decision to sue makes sense and they will win. However, Disney is a huge company and is probably not losing a whole lot from smaller business sales. I’ll be honest, I find this petty. What’s worse, is knowing Disney’s history. I’m not saying it’s okay to plagiarize, but plagiarism laws originally existed to protect people’s hard work from being stolen. For example, if someone recorded Lilo & Stitch and tried to sell the copy or if they created a painting of Megera from Hercules and said it was their own original creation, or if they write a book exactly like the Lion King and tried to sell it and claim it as their own works, that’s clearly stealing. However, it was actually big corporate companies like Disney that started enforcing stricter plagiarism laws; claiming that any works created and inspired by other people’s works should also be considered stealing. This was done out of greed. If someone creates a work of art and says it’s inspired by XYZ art or artist, it used to be completely legal and considered grounds for expanding creativity. Artists and authors were encouraged to look at this as flattery because their work was acknowledged, but no one was claiming anything as their own original and if the items were sold, they were not considered a problem in selling unless the works were identical or similar enough to a product the original artist was selling. Disney and big corporate companies changed that out of greed. They wanted to profit off of other people’s hard works. That’s why “public domain” exists: to allow newer artists to use old content as a base or inspiration. Disney doesn’t like public domain. It’s why they got the laws changed and are monopolizing other companies. Greed. For this reason, while I agree that lawfully they are correct and they have fair warnings, morally this is petty and shows that Disney is still a greedy corporation.

  6. I’m pretty sure the company being sued got some cease and desist letters (or whatever they would be called in this situation) and if they stopped selling the product they would have been fine but they kept doing it. My friend sold something in Etsy that had to do with a Taylor Swift lyric and she got a notification she needed to remove the product so she did. If she didn’t and kept selling it, then I think there would be bigger issues like this.

    I can’t speak to your question about the wreath. I’m not a lawyer. I do think you’ll be warned before anything serious happens though!

  7. Well maybe Disney shouldn’t charge so much damn money for any of these things personally I don’t know how they can be sued for this they don’t know the rights to a mouse all these people have to do is change it up a little bit and make it not look exactly like Mickey maybe leave something else or make something a little bit different call it some thing else they’re just not coughing it correctly they’re just being too obvious about it he’s good for them for a creator of business Disney is just mad because their competition !

  8. Disney should stop these people from making these products in Kissimmee so Disney can go back to making their overpriced crap in China where it belongs. (Insert sarcasm here)

  9. The owner works for an airline and he and he wife fly free and highly discounted standby flights. So the “jetting across the world” isn’t courtesy of their business earnings.

  10. So if I buy a sign from a reputable dealer/store and use it in a Disney themed wreath to be sold at a boutique I can be sued even though I have paid for the sign?

  11. This is from a legal website that was posted on a Disney site.
    CAN I MAKE MOUSE EARS, OR USE THE MICKEY SILHOUETTE?

    Mouse ears are a definite yes. There are a vast amount of shops who sell mouse ears, and they are legally allowed to. Disney does not own the rights to mouse ears. What they do own the rights to is Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. So, while ears are okay, the silhouette (including the head of the mice) is not okay. Likewise, anything that resembles the likeness of a character is not okay. If you reproduce Mickey Mouse, or something that looks like Mickey Mouse, you could be violating their copyright.

  12. I think Disney should definitely be putting a stop to this. I know these companies in the lawsuit as I was once a member of the “secret group” and left shortly after when I saw the owners frequently posted themselves jet setting around the world, buying a multi million dollar home and showing off the WAREHOUSE full of products they were selling illegally. They had been told many times to stop but refused. I truly don’t believe people should be able to make a fortune off of copyrights that don’t belong to them. Good for Disney for taking action against this. They are kind enough to let people use their images for personal use but not making a profit off of it.

What do you think?

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