A Game of Mouse and Mouse: Disney and the Deadmau5 Trademark Case

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on April 08, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Disney is very protective of its marks, understandably so, and now it's most iconic mark is getting some competition and Disney is not standing for it. In this game of mouse and mouse, who will win?

Mouse v. Mau5

The other mouse is the mark representing DJ Joel Zimmerman's stage name Deadmau5 (pronounced "dead mouse"). Last year Deadmau5 filed an application to trademark a black mouse with large round ears, white eyes and white smile. Zimmerman plans to use the logo on a variety of products, everything from food items like coffee, to toys, leather goods, paper goods, electronic equipment, BMX bikes and entertainment services, reports Rolling Stone. Let's take a look at what all the fuss is about.

You probably don't need reminding, but this is Disney's trademark for Mickey Mouse:

(Images via EDM America TV).

The marks do bear a resemblance, that can't be denied. But will Deadmau5's trademark be registered?

Disney Contests Registration

Disney expressed its dissatisfaction with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") and requested, and was granted, 90 days to investigate Deadmau5's trademark claim and file a notice of opposition, reports The Hollywood Reporter. No doubt Disney will argue that Deadmau5's mark is misleading and has the potential to confuse consumers. Interestingly, Deadmau5 himself has acknowledged similarities and has commented on the similarities of the marks previously in an interview in 2012: "Someone at the Disney patent office fell asleep on that one," reports Rolling Stone.

Lesson for Lawyers

We doubt Disney's attorneys were asleep at their desks, perhaps they were waiting for Deadmau5 to take some sort of legal action like filing a trademark application. Whether or not that is the case, it is a lesson for attorneys who work at companies with strong marks; you must be vigilant about protecting your marks, know when it's the right course of action to protect your marks, and keep an eye on the trademark application notices that the USPTO publishes. We'll keep you posted as this develops.

Do you think Disney has a valid claim? Let us know @FindLawLP on Twitter.

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