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The Fight Over Mickey

deadmau53Approximately twenty years ago, Joel Zimmerman, a young teenager, was working on his computer when it suddenly quit working.  Smelling something burning, Joel opened up the computer only to find a dead mouse inside.  Inspired by this somewhat gruesome incident, he created the stage persona of Deadmau5 (pronounced dead mouse)!

Zimmerman is a DJ and compilation artist specializing in techno, dance and electro music.  As part of his stage persona, he created a logo to represent himself and his music.  This logo is a simple black and white rendition of a cartoon mouse head with two big round ears, two big round eyes and a big wide smile.

Last year, Zimmerman’s holding company Ronica Holdings Limited applied for a trademark for this logo.  Unfortunately, many believe that the Deadmau5 logo is too similar to one other very familiar cartoon mouse – Mickey!  As a result, Disney recently asked for and was granted 90 days to do some additional investigation.

It is assumed that Disney will probably ask that Zimmerman’s trademark request not be granted simply because it is too similar to Mickey’s picture.  Disney, who is notorious for aggressively protecting their own trademarks, would argue that the Deadmau5 logo would mislead consumers into believing that Disney is promoting products when in actuality Deadma5 is promoting the products.  The iconic Mickey Mouse logo has been under trademark protection since 1924.

Should Zimmerman win, he would be able to use the logo to bring in millions of dollars in marketing revenue. Because he is well known within the music industry, he is planning on using his logo on electronics equipment, entertainment services, toys and even BMX bikes.  The fact is that although he has never trademarked his mouse logo, he’s actually been using it since 2007 on his albums and in his promotional materials, without any fuss from Disney and supposedly without any customers getting confused between the two.

At this stage of the game, anything could happen.  In fact, in 2011 there were rumors that Zimmerman was in talks with Disney to sell them his logo. Although heavily denied by Zimmerman at that time, a settlement is still a possibility.  Having the whole thing end up in court is another possibility. We may be at the forefront of a long legal battle.

It’s quite possible that there will be some type of deal that brings us a techno-dance MickeyMau5 sometime in the future.

Search Widerman Malek


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