Disney, DC Comics, Sanrio Sue California Party Costume Provider For Copyright, Trademark Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on September 7, 2012

disney Orange County – Disney Enterprises Inc. and its DC Comics and Sanrio Inc. affiliates sued a Southern California party costume business last week, alleging that The Party Animals LLC is providing costumes that infringe the Disney companies’ copyrights and trademarks.

Party Animals, which Jason Lancaster operates via the website www.partyanimalsoc.com, is selling, renting and distributing unlicensed and counterfeit costumes that incorporate unauthorized likenesses of the animated or live action characters or other logos that the Disney companies own, the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court on August 27 says.

The characters at issue include Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, the cast of Toy Story, Handy Manny, Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Super Girl, The Joker, Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel, according to the complaint.

Lancaster had the right and ability to supervise or control the infringing activity alleged, and had a direct financial interest in that activity, the complaint says. He had knowledge or reason to know of the infringing activity, and took actions that contributed to that activity, it says.

Lancaster and Party Animals have never been authorized by the Disney companies to distribute their copyrighted properties, nor have the Disney companies ever licensed them the right to make or sell merchandise like character costumes bearing the copyrighted properties, the plaintiffs say.

The unauthorized and counterfeit character costumes and related merchandise that Lancaster and Party Animals have sold and distributed exactly duplicates and appropriates the Disney companies’ trademarks, the complaint says. Their activities delude and confuse the public into believing that the Disney companies approved or sponsored the character costumes and related merchandise, it says.

The Disney companies are pursuing claims of copyright and trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, trademark dilution and unfair competition, and are seeking damages of up to $150,000 for each copyrighted work infringed, plus up to $200,000 per trademark.

Party Animals’s website contains a disclaimer saying the company does not and has never carried any other companies’ copyrighted or trademarked characters.

Representatives for Party Animals did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

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