Jan 9, 2017

Disney Races Away In Cars Copyright Victory

Disney has secured victory in a Chinese intellectual property dispute which demonstrates that western brands are having more success in enforcing their rights in China.

In the summer of 2016 Disney took three Chinese firms to Court alleging infringement of Disney's copyright in the animated film 'Cars'. The dispute revolved around a Chinese animated film which was also based around cars called 'Autobots' a sequel of which is reportedly planned for 2017. Disney alleged copyright infringement in respect of numerous aspects of the films.

The most significant aspects of the alleged infringement included copying of the two main characters and also copying of the promotional posters from the 'Cars' film. A comparison of the 'Cars' poster and the 'Autobots' poster can be found here.

The Chinese Court ruled at the end of 2016 that 'Autobots' was guilty of infringing the copyright in 'Cars'. The Court agreed that two of the main characters from 'Cars' had been copied and it also said that the film poster for 'Cars' had been copied. The Court held that one crucial Chinese language character on the 'Autobots' poster which would have distinguished it from the 'Cars' poster had been deliberately hidden behind an image of a wheel.

Disney was awarded damages and legal costs as a result of this infringement of 1.35 million Yuan ($194,000), though the 'Autobots' film had made a profit at the box office of over $400,000.

Despite this success for Disney (which has recently opened a $5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai), China remains a difficult jurisdiction in which to enforce your rights and it is best to seek professional advice and assistance before attempting to do so. If you have any queries about enforcing your rights in China do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co on 0191 281 4000 or by email to legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: Copyright, EU/International, News

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