Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trademark Opposition of Deadmou5 vs. Disney

At the end of March, The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board granted Disney a 90 day extension to file an opposition against a pending trademark sought by Ronica Holdings, Limited, on behalf of the popular EDM artist, Joel Zimmerman, known as “Deadmou5” (pronounced “Dead Mouse”).

The pending trademark, shown below (Serial No. 85972976) features a smiling black and white mouse head with big ears, similar to the Mickey Mouse silhouette, also shown below. It is likely that Disney and Zimmerman’s representatives are trying to hash this out during the 90 day period.

In one scenario, Disney may seek to block the trademark outright fearing a black and white mouse logo may lead to a likelihood of confusion with the iconic Mickey Mouse trademark. Moreover, Disney may also fear that a similar mouse logo used in connection with the edgy EDM scene, may tarnish the Mickey Mouse’s family friendly image that Disney has worked to build up for many years.

Alternatively, the parties may reach an agreement where both trademarks may co-exist with certain agreed upon limitations.

Zimmerman’s mark at issue is already used in interstate commerce and around the world. According the Deadmou5 wikipedia page, Joel Zimmerman created his mouse head logo using 3D graphic design software, and has used similar mouse designs on his album artwork dating back to 2005. Moreover, Zimmerman is recognized for performing as Deadmou5 while wearing a giant electronic mouse head.

While on one hand, Zimmerman may argue that there is no likelihood of confusion based on his continued use of the mark without a problem for almost ten years, but on the other hand, Disney’s ability to litigate this to the fullest may give Mr. Zimmerman good reason to avoid a high cost legal battle, and seek a quick compromise.