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Last year, it was The Hobbit. This year, it’s Frozen.
With the release of Frozen still relatively fresh, Disney is going to court against an alleged imitator. According to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed in California federal court, Phase 4 Films changed the name of one of its films to Frozen Land, so as to trade off the success of the acclaimed animated feature.
“On November 1, 2013, less than three weeks before the Hollywood premiere of FROZEN on November 19, Phase 4 theatrically released an animated picture entitled The Legend of Sarila, which generated minimal box office revenues and received no significant attention,” says the complaint.
The lawsuit adds that Phase 4 knew of Frozen, and so to enhance the commercial success of Sarila, the defendant “redesigned the artwork, packaging, logo, and other promotional materials for its newly (and intentionally misleadingly) retitled film to mimic those used by [Disney] for FROZEN and related merchandise.”
Although film titles can’t be trademarked per se, that doesn’t stop movie studios from registering marks for associated merchandise. There’s also the Lanham Act, preventing entities from selling goods designed to confuse the source of origin of some trademark.
Last year, Warner Bros. sued over a film then titled Age of Hobbits and successfully obtained a preliminary injunction. That film, though, was designed to be a mockumentary.
This one concerning Frozen Land is all about the title and look of the promotion. The lawsuit (read here) filed on behalf of Disney by attorney Steven Marenberg includes a side-by-side look at the logos:
… and a description of the alleged wrongdoing.
“As is apparent from the face of the FROZEN LAND logo, despite the infinite options available to it, Phase 4 intended its logo to replicate the FROZEN Trademark Logo of Disney’s FROZEN,” says the lawsuit. “For example, the FROZEN Land logo also includes jagged, uneven edges on the lettering, dramatic flourishes on the letters, and an elongated R and Z that cradle a stylized O that curves into itself and does not close entirely. In addition, the word ‘frozen’ is significantly larger than the word ‘land.’ The two logos are nearly identical.”
Disney is asking for an injunction and destruction of all DVDs for Frozen Land. The plaintiff also seeks compensatory and damages, lost profits and actual damages.
Phase 4 hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.
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