As all-too-many merchandisers have learned the hard way, the Walt Disney company has a well-documented reputation for being extremely strict in terms of both licensing, and copyright infringement. So well-enforced are Disney’s policies on protection of intellectual properties that a completely unrelated product that bears even a passing similarity to a Disney property can find itself quickly tied up in litigation, or served with a cease and desist notification.
But some of the most perplexing examples are based around products or services that pre-date the Disney property it’s found to be in conflict with. One of the most famous examples is the children’s book series from the 1970’s called ‘The Little Mermaid’. Although the narrative had little to do with Disney’s 1989 adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story, Disney wanted no conflicts. As a result, ‘The Little Mermaid’ series was removed from publication and printing, prior to the release of their animated classic. In such instances, one might argue that Disney triumphs only as a result of its legal prowess, as reinforced by its (estimated) $92 billion net worth.
As of 2018, Disney is a more powerful entity than ever, based on their ownership of ABC Television, ESPN, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd. In fact, it’s as a result of the last two properties, that global automaker Mazda finds itself on Disney’s bad side.
In 2009, Mazda had introduced its CX-9 crossover SUV. Based on the overwhelming response it had received, the automaker would flesh out their line-up with the midsize CX-5 in 2013, as well as the more diminutive CX-3 in 2016. Although well-celebrated within the crossover customer segment, these Mazda offerings may soon go the way of…well, the Jedi Knights.
Earlier this week Mazda was served with a cease and desist order from the Walt Disney Company, stating that the CX series must halt production and distribution based on pre-production plans for the yet unnamed STAR WARS Episode 9, to be released in 2020. The reason being that the movie would feature a new droid, named CX-5.
According to a Disney spokesperson, “CX-5 will be the next in a long line of incredibly endearing and popular robotic characters, which includes C-3PO, R2-D2, K-2S0, and BB-8. As a continuation of George Lucas’ original vision of droid-life in a galaxy far, far away, CX-5 will display clear touches of such human traits as compassion and humor, and have its own distinct personality.”
Within the cease and desist order, Disney claims that Mazda’s CX series was to be discontinued based on two primary criteria (i) potential confusion to be caused by clear similarity in name between the vehicles and the proposed character and (ii) the absence of distinct personality within the Mazda lineup.
“I disagree, “ said some guy who drives a CX-5 (or maybe it was a CX-3, or CX-9). Unfortunately, neither he or his vehicle left a lasting impression; which actually speaks volumes in support of Disney’s legal action.
Upon advisement of the fate potentially awaiting the 2018 Mazda CX-5 – Albany, NY was among the many cities whose Mazda dealerships found themselves swarmed by customers wanting to snatch up remaining inventory. No real surprise, considering that Albany has such little personality and ranks among the most boring cities in the country.