Disney has been known to aggressively protect its intellectual property (IP) in the past and the latest IP issue involving mouse ears is no different. People familiar with electronic dance music (EDM) are no stranger to the music of DeadMau5. Joel Zimmerman, the man behind the mask, is an established producer from Canada that has been performing and selling records for over 10 years now. He has trademarks over his mouse themed logo, known as Mau5head, in over 30 countries.
Zimmerman filed a trademark application for the Mau5head logo in June this year which Disney has just opposed. The logo consists of a silhouette of a mouse with huge ears, Xs on both eyes, a smiling mouth, and Deadmau5 written at the bottom. Disney believes the mouse logo is strikingly similar to their own Mickey Mouse logo that has a similar silhouette of a mouse.
Zimmerman is not pleased with this move took to Twitter to address his fans, “Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician/performer with a cartoon mouse. That's how stupid they think you are.” Although he does make a fair point, it is not far-fetched to consider the likelihood that many people unaware of Deadmau5 or EDM would take the logo to be affiliated with the Disney brand. Although broadly speaking, both Disney and Deadmau5 are in the entertainment industry, their target audience is quite different.
Not one to take things lying down, Zimmerman asked Mickey to lawyer up. He even sent a cease and desist notice to Disney for using his song ‘Ghost n Stuff’ for their Disney Re-micks, a series of music videos featuring popular songs mashed with classic Disney cartoons. In a statement to Billboard, Disney has responded by claiming that the music was licensed and Zimmerman’s claim is without merit. They also clarified they are not opposing the costume he wears when he performs, i.e., the Deadmau5 helmet, but only “oppose Mr. Zimmerman's attempt to register a logo that is nearly identical to our trademarks for his commercial exploitation.” He plans to see this trademark debacle to the bitter end, and will most likely fight it out in court if it comes to that.
He created the logo more than a decade ago and professes to how simple and easy it was to create the logo while learning how to use a 3D modeling software. If anything he likens his creation to ‘Pac-man with ears’ rather than Mickey Mouse. Personally, I like his music and wish him all the best but if this issue is not resolved amicably then Disney’s army of IP lawyers are going to come down on him with all the might of a hundred Disney villains!
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