Walt Disney has sued three Chinese firms for copying elements of its "Cars" animation and hit film(s). The Claim is brought against Blue MTV, media company Bejing G-Point and PPLive Inc, companies involved in the production, distribution and marketing of Chinese film "The Autobots". During a focused move into the world's second largest economy, Disney may wish to send a message to the market and its competitors, in addition to the counterfeiting industry in China.
A comparison of imagery from the two films can be found in this BBC news article; the article also reviews various other films which have been produced in China and appear similar to Disney productions. It will be interesting to see how the case unfolds against the backdrop of recent cases in which foreign companies, notably Apple in trademark and patent cases, have failed in intellectual property claims against Chinese companies.
According to an update on the Shanghai Court's website, the present dispute relates to copyrights and unfair competition. Unfair competition is covered in the United Kingdom by the law of passing off, and in order to bring a claim for passing off a party must firstly establish that it has generated goodwill in its goods or services. If an alleged Defendant has subsequently made a misrepresentation leading members of the public to believe the goods or services are associated with the owner of the goodwill, damaging the owner's goodwill, there is likely to be a claim for passing off.
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