Mickey Mouse Takes Popular DJ to Court Over Trademark Infringement [e92]

September 10, 2014

The guys discuss the trademark infringement case involving Mickey Mouse and Deadmau5. They also answer, “What should I include in a general release?”

Full Podcast Transcript

NASIR: Welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business. You’re listening to Legally Sound Smart Business with Nasir Pasha.

MATT: And this is Matt Staub.

NASIR: And welcome to our podcast where we cover business in the news and also answer some of your business legal questions that you, the listener, can send in to ask@legallysoundsmartbusiness.com and, of course, follow us on Twitter. The Twitter handle is @askbizlaw.

MATT: I don’t know how the intros get worse as the week progresses. I know I always talk about this but you’re so good at everything else. The intros, not as good, but that’s fine. Actually, I want to get into the story here but first it’s dealing with Mickey Mouse and a DJ but I just wanted to know. I’m guessing you don’t know who this is but I wanted to see how you would pronounce his name.

NASIR: Oh. Uh, yeah, of course, it’s Deadmau5.

MATT: Okay. I think that’s what a lot of people say. It’s “deadmouse” is the actual pronunciation.

NASIR: Yeah, that’s what I said. Yeah, “deadmouse.”

MATT: Okay.

NASIR: I was saying how most people would say something stupid like Deadmau5 but, yeah, “deadmouse.”

MATT: Well, I don’t hold that against you at all but, like I said, a lot of people probably say this – even people that listen to the music. For those of you who don’t know or maybe those of you who’ve heard of him, there’s a very iconic thing he wears on his head when he does all of his DJ-ing. I’d say one of the most popular DJs right now in the last few years. But how to describe it is he wears this thing on his head that essentially makes him look like Mickey Mouse – an electric techno version of Mickey Mouse. We’ll definitely link a story so you guys can check it out for yourself to see what it looks like because it’s hard to picture it if you haven’t seen it but that’s where this whole lawsuit’s come into play. There’s a dispute over the infringement of Mickey Mouse’s head, more or less. And so…

NASIR: You know, I hate to interrupt you but I was looking at this article that we’re referencing here and it says, “Here are the two logos side by side. You be the judge.” It’s not a picture of a logo. It’s literally a picture of someone in a Mickey Mouse costume and then this Deadmau5 character and a picture of him DJ-ing. It’s weird to just call them logos. I don’t know what the definition of logos is but apparently it’s changed.

MATT: That’s poor captioning by…

NASIR: The Daily Beast.

MATT: Yeah, The Daily Beast.
We talk about these infringement issues a lot and they do look similar but there’s a few different things about this case and other ones – one of which being that Deadmau5 has – well, the guy, I forget his actual real name, something Zimmerman – he owns trademarks to this logo – there’s your logo – in thirty different countries and has been using the image for over a decade. That definitely works in his favor, I would say. I’d assume that Disney had some sort of trademark for the Mickey Mouse logo. I would think they have to have it.

NASIR: I would assume so.

MATT: Obviously, they do because they even have an act that’s better known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. Deadmau5, he already has a lot of these trademarks filed so that definitely works in his favor. Another thing too is it’s not whether he can trademark this. I think they’re kind of saying that he can but it’s whether it’s infringing upon what Disney has with Mickey Mouse.

NASIR: In other words, I think they’re saying that, “Okay, you can still use it,” but, as far as making it a registration, I think they’re opposing that and I can understand that. You mentioned that he registered in another country. Sometimes, it’s easier to do so in other countries like China is classic that it’s basically first to file. In fact, just as a side note, a lot of issues when you want to go international with your mark or your business, some of the time you’ll have these guys in China that will actually register your mark and basically it’s like what they call a trademark troll instead of a patent troll – a trademark troll in which they basically hold the trademark ransom. You know, when you’re dealing with international countries and so forth, it’s a little bit more difficult to enforce. But here, in this case, just from a simple perspective of allowing this guy, even when you see him, we all see the resemblance. We all say, “Oh, that guy looks like a digitized caricature of Mickey Mouse,” and I think that is just because Mickey Mouse has become so prevalent in American culture that we see that association. We’ve seen it since we were kids. But does it necessarily create a likelihood of confusion and affiliation or association? I think this DJ has also made his own too as well to have enough of an independent kind of following to be freely differentiating between Mickey Mouse.

MATT: I agree with you. Like I said earlier, he’s been doing this for a decade.

NASIR: Yeah, why now?

MATT: Why didn’t they take any action prior to now?

NASIR: Disney is classically very aggressive in enforcing any kind of copyright infringement and trademark infringement, et cetera. I think, only until recently, even in this article, they comment on how they’ve taken a little bit of a step back with their movie, Frozen, because there’s been so many parodies and tributes to Frozen on YouTube and alike that it’s actually helped the actual movie get more viewers and so forth. And so, they’ve kind of let it go because it’s in their favor – which I haven’t seen the movie either, have you? I’ve heard it’s good.

MATT: Have I seen Frozen? No, I have not, and I don’t plan on seeing it either.

NASIR: I feel like we’re missing out. I feel like I should watch it because it’s… um, just talked about all the time. Now, granted, most of those people just speaking about it are six, seven, eight-year-old girls but, you know, they are a big demographic in the United States.

MATT: And a big demographic for this podcast so I hope I didn’t alienate anyone.
One last thing I want to mention, I might remember this incorrectly, didn’t Walt Disney kind of rip off someone else when he created Mickey Mouse or am I making that up?

NASIR: No, there’s something about that but I can’t recall if that’s part rumor or what-have-you. I mean, obviously, Disney has a whole history of that, going back to its origins with that, but I think, as much as they are a kid-friendly organization, they’ve been pretty aggressive in the legal sphere when it comes to protecting their rights – even dealing with employees and they’ve had a number of employment issues in the past couple of decades.

MATT: Yeah, I just wasn’t sure if I was remembering that correctly or if I was confusing it with the Simpsons episode when the guy ripped off the “Itchy & Scratchy” cartoon – that definitely happened.

NASIR: But I think that was an illusion to the actual story but I can’t say.
[MUSIC]

MATT: Question of the day. Short question, I like it.
“What should I include in a general release?”

NASIR: It’s a short question but it’s actually a really good question but there’s a big fundamental problem with this question and that is: “What should I include?”
Well, what’s a general release? A general release is basically, usually, when you have a dispute that comes up with anyone for that matter and you come to a settlement, then you want to make sure that, “Okay, I’m paying you $100 in settlement so that neither of us have any more claims with each other. We can go our separate ways and we don’t have to deal with each other anymore,” right? That’s the concept with a general release. But what should I include in a general release? Frankly, if it’s of any consequence, you should not be drafting your own general releases. It’s not a simple document – not as simple as people think it is, especially in different states, there are different requirements, depending upon what exactly you want to be released.
For example, classically in California, if you want to release any and all claims, including unknown claims, you have to specifically waive certain rights of the California law – I think specifically it’s Section 1542 of the California Civil Code – because, without that, California only allows you to release claims that are known or suspected to exist – not ones that are unknown. Usually, you know, a general release usually tries to include those kinds of things.

MATT: That’s what I thought you were getting to when you said there was a fundamental problem with the question. We didn’t know where it was from so, depending on what state they’re in, there’s different rules. You covered California.

NASIR: Oh, that’s true.

MATT: I know. I know it’s different in New York but, yeah, that’s very important for California. Yeah, you’re kind of right here – well, you’re not kind of right – you are right with what should I include. Every instance is going to be different. There’s general things that you can… I guess there’s common sense things that you would think about like who’s releasing who or who’s providing the release to who and these are all, like I said, basic level stuff but what claims are being released.

NASIR: You’re right, these are questions that need to be answered. Who’s being released? Is it the entity or the individual or both? You know, a lot of times, when that can be kind of mixed and mashed, you might want to include the individuals in there. What if there’s some kind of dispute? Are you going to go under arbitration or attorney’s fees? Basic stuff that are in any contract. You mentioned what claims? Sometimes, you just want to release one specific claim dealing with one issue but not touching the others because, again, they may be unknown so you want to kind of reserve your right to follow-up with that. Also, a lot of times, with these settlement agreements, you want to make sure, especially from a business perspective, you may want to make sure that they’re confidential because you don’t want the other person saying, “Hey, this guy settled with me and, because he admitted he was wrong or whatever, their business is bad and so forth.” Adding in stuff like non-disparagement clauses and things like that are also something to consider.

MATT: I don’t know if we talked about warranties from the releasor. There’s a lot of different things.

NASIR: Yeah.

MATT: It’s not a simple thing you can draft up in a minute. Despite the short question, it’s not a short answer.

NASIR: Yeah. Just like everything, if you Google it, you can find forms out there but I know for a fact, general release forms that are out there are very poorly written as far as when I recall looking in the past. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of people use these general releases as a quick fix. If you don’t do it right, you can very easily get out of it.

MATT: I just typed in “general release” into Google and I clicked the first one that popped up and it’s a very poor release so I would not recommend using that. I won’t say what site it was through.

NASIR: LegalZoom? No.

MATT: It was not LegalZoom, no.

NASIR: I’m hopefully looking at the same one you are and that is not going to work. It’s three paragraphs, double-spaced to fit the whole page, and I think that the last paragraph is pretty much useless. It’s like ten lines of actual terms there so that’s not going to work.

MATT: Yeah, buyer beware! Well, I guess they’re not buying but beware.

NASIR: You get what you pay for I think is what you’re looking for.

MATT: There we go.

NASIR: I’m usually terrible with those things.

MATT: I know.

NASIR: Yeah, I got that one.

MATT: It came through. You redeemed yourself!

NASIR: Nice. All right. Well, thank you for joining us once again and, if you hold on just for a little bit in a couple of days, you’ll hear another episode this Friday.

MATT: Keep it sound and keep it smart!

Legally Sound | Smart Business

By

The Podcast Where Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub cover business in the news with their legal twist and answer business legal questions that you the listener can send it to info@legallysoundsmartbusiness.com.

Get Business Legal Updates

Please provide your full name.
Please provide a valid email address.
We respect your privacy, and we will never share your information. Unsubscribe at any time.
Legally Sound Smart Business cover art

Legally Sound Smart Business

A business podcast with a legal twist

Legally Sound Smart Business is a podcast by Pasha Law PC covering different topics in business advice and news with a legal twist with attorneys Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub.
Apple Podcast badge
Google Podcast badge
Spotify Podcast badge

Latest Episodes

July 14, 2021

Through a five-round championship bout, Matt travels to Texas from California to determine which state is better for business. Will it be a knockout with a clear winner or will it go to the scorecards?

June 16, 2021

Covered in this episode of Legally Sound Smart Business are some typical business mistakes blunders small businesses often make and how to avoid them. Blunder #1: Copying and pasting agreements It may sound like a good idea at the time, but this blunder comes with hidden pitfalls. Having an attorney draft terms that are specific…

February 4, 2021

How you terminate an employee can make the difference between a graceful transition to avoidable negative outcomes like a dramatic exit or even a lawsuit. We gathered a panel of experts and asked them – is there a “right way” to fire an employee? We would like to thank our guests for this episode: Amr…

December 2, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned nearly every aspect of life on its head, and that certainly holds true for the business world. In this episode, Matt and Nasir explain how the early days of the pandemic felt like the Wild West and how the shifting legal playing field left a lot open to interpretation and…

November 16, 2020

After plenty of ups and downs, our buyer has finally closed on the purchase of their business. While we’re marking this down in the ‘wins’ column, it never hurts to review the game tape. In this final episode, our hosts, Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha, return to the deal almost a year later to reflect…

September 15, 2020

The ink is drying on the signature line and things are looking great for our buyer. After so much hard work, the finish line is in sight and the cheering within ear shot.   Though the landlord is still serving friction, things seem safe to move forward and for now, our buyer will be keeping…

July 31, 2020

Though things are coming along well, the journey would not be interesting if it was purely smooth sailing. After our buyer opens escrow, they are forced to push the closing date back when suddenly a letter from an attorney was received claiming the business, we are buying has a trade mark on the name!  Now…

June 12, 2020

With frustration at an all-time high and professionalism at an all-time low, our friend the Buyer has “had it” with the Seller and quite frankly their lack of knowledge. At present our Buyer is rightfully concerned that the latest misstep from our loose-lipped Seller will threaten not only the entire operation of the businesses but…

May 11, 2020

As we go deeper into the buying process, we start to uncover more challenges from our seller and encounter some of the wrenches they are tossing our way. When we last left off in episode three our team was knee deep in due diligence for our buyer, had already penned and signed the Letter of…

April 4, 2020

One word–interloper! When a new mysterious broker enters the transaction and starts to kick up dust, Nasir and Matt take the reins. The seller signed off on the letter of intent (see episode 2), yet this “business broker” serves only friction and challenges by refusing to send financials, whilst demanding more of a firm commitment…

April 4, 2020

Just as most stories and deals start out, everyone is optimistic, idealistic and full of hope for clear skies. It’s a perfect outlook with a perfect setup for the ups and downs yet to come. Peek further behind the curtain and into the first steps of buying a business: the letter of intent. After the…

April 4, 2020

When a savvy buyer hears opportunity knocking to purchase a prime positioned business, she decides not to go it alone and taps in the professionals to help navigate what could potentially be a fruitful acquisition. “Behind the Buy” is a truly rare and exclusive peak into the actual process, dangers, pitfalls and achievements, that can…

August 7, 2019

GrubHub is subject to two “matters of controversy” that have likely become common knowledge to business owners: “fake” orders and unfriendly microsites.

May 28, 2019

In this podcast episode, Matt and Nasir breakdown the legal issues of the subscription industry’s business on the internet. Resources A good 50-state survey for data breach notifications as of July 2018. California Auto-Renewal Law (July 2018) Privacy Policies Law by State Why Users of Ashley Madison May Not Sue for Data Breach [e210] Ultimate…

March 12, 2019

In recording this episode’s topic on the business buying process, Matt’s metaphor, in comparing the process to getting married probably went too far, but they do resemble one another. Listen to the episode for legal advice on buying a business.

December 3, 2018

Nasir and Matt return to discuss the different options available to companies looking to raise funds through general solicitation and crowdfunding. They discuss the rules associated with the various offerings under SEC regulations and state laws, as well as more informal arrangements. The two also discuss the intriguing story about a couple who raised over…

July 24, 2018

Flight Sim Labs, a software add-on creator for flight simulators, stepped into a PR disaster and possibly some substantial legal issues when it allegedly included a Trojan horse of sorts as malware to combat pirating of its $100 Airbus A320 software. The hidden test.exe file triggered anti-virus software for good reason as it was actually…

April 17, 2018

Attorneys Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha examine Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings about the state of Facebook. The two also discuss Cambridge Analytica and the series of events that led to the congressional hearings, the former and current versions of Facebook’s Terms of Service, and how businesses should be handling data privacy. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR:…

March 10, 2018

The Trump presidency has led to a major increase in ICE immigration enforcement. It’s critical for business owners to both comply with and know their rights when it comes to an ICE audit or raid. Nasir, Matt, and Pasha Law attorney Karen McConville discuss how businesses can prepare for potential ICE action and how to…

February 5, 2018

New years always bring new laws. Effective January 1, 2018, California has made general contractors jointly liable for the unpaid wages, fringe benefits, and other benefit payments of a subcontractor. Nasir and Matt discuss who the new law applies to and how this affects all tiers in the general contractor-subcontractor relationship. Click here to learn…

January 2, 2018

With a seemingly endless amount of new mattress options becoming available, it is unsurprising that the market has become increasingly aggressive. As companies invest in more innovative solutions to get in front of customers, review sites, blogs and YouTube videos have moved to the forefront of how customers are deciding on their mattresses and how…

December 7, 2017

In recent months explosive amounts of high profile allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and varying acts of inappropriate behavior have transcended every sector of our professional world. With a deluge from Hollywood and politics, and the private workforce, accusations have inundated our feeds and mass media. This harassment watershed has not only been felt within…

November 16, 2017

If you are not familiar with the EB-5 program started in 1990 to give green cards to certain qualified investors in the United States, then you may not have been alone a few years ago. Currently, the EB-5 program has since exploded since its inception and now hits its quotas consistently each year. The program…

October 10, 2017

Government requests come in multiple forms. They can come in as requests for client information or even in the form of investigating your company or your employees. Requests for Client Information General Rule to Follow Without understanding the nuances of criminal and constitutional law and having to cite Supreme Court cases, any government requests for…

August 24, 2017

Nasir and Matt suit up to talk about everything pertaining to employee dress codes. They discuss the Federal laws that govern many rules for employers, as well as state specific nuances in California and other states. The two also emphasize the difficulty in identifyingreligious expression in dress and appearance, how gender-related dress codes have evolved…

June 28, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the life cycle of a negative online review. They talk about how businesses should properly respond, how to determine if the review is defamatory, the options available to seek removal of the review, how to identify anonymous reviewers, whether businesses can require clients to agree not to write negative reviews, and…

June 7, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Mattbreak down social media marketing withguests Tyler Sickmeyer and Kyle Weberof Fidelitas Development. They first discuss contests and promotionsand talk about where social media promotions can go wrong,when businesses are actually running an illegal lottery, and the importance of a soundterms and conditions. Next, they…

April 3, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Matt go in depth with the subscription box business. They discuss where subscription box companies have gone wrong(4:30), the importance of a specifically tailored terms and conditions(6:30), how to structure return policies (11:45), product liability concerns (14:45),the offensive and defensive side of intellectual property (19:00),…

February 1, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the suit against Apple that resultedfrom a car crashed caused by the use of FaceTime while driving. They also discuss howforeseeable use of apps can increase liability for companies. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR: Hi and welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business! I’m Nasir Pasha. MATT: And I’m Matt Staub. Two attorneys…

January 5, 2017

The guys kick in the new year by first discussing Cinnabon’s portrayal of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia soon after her death, as well as other gaffes involving Prince and David Bowie. They alsotalk about right of publicity claims companies could be held liable for based on using someone’s name or likeness for commercial gain.

December 22, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the recent incidentat a Victoria’s Secret store where the store manager kicked out all black women after one black woman was caught shoplifting. They then each present dueling steps businesses should take when employees are accused of harassment.

December 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt return to talk about the different types of clients that may have outstanding invoices and how businesses can convert unpaid bills to getting paid.

November 10, 2016

After a long break, Nasir and Matt are back to discuss a Milwaukee frozen custard stand that is now revising it’s English only policy for employees. The guys also discuss how similar policies could be grounds for discrimination and what employers can do to revise their policies.

October 6, 2016

The guys discuss the new California law that allows actors to request the removal of their date of birth and birthdays on their IMDB page and why they think the law won’t last. They also discuss how age discrimination claims arise for business owner.

September 29, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the racial discrimination claims surroundingAirbnb and how it’s handled the situation. They also discuss some practical tips for businesses experiencing similar issues.

September 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss whyAmazon seller accounts are getting suspended and banned without notice and how business owners can rectify this situation through a Corrective Action Plan.

August 25, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the accusations surroundingfashion giant Zararipping off the designs of independent artists like Tuesday Bassen and howsmaller companies can battle the industry giants.

August 18, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss Brave Software’s ad replacing technology that has caught the eye of almost every national newspaper and has a potential copyright infringement claim looming. They also welcome digital marketing expert Matt Michaelree to speak on the specifics of what Brave is attempting to do and whether it has the answers moving forward.

July 28, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson against Fox CEO Roger Ailes. They also talk aboutthe importance of sexual harassment training and properly handling such allegations in the office.

July 15, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the changes at Starbucks that have led to many disgruntled employees and customers.

June 23, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the criminal charges facing FedExinvolving the alleged transportation of illegal drugs. They also talk about how business owners should address working with customers that may be breaking the law.

June 15, 2016

The guys return after a long break to discuss why Yahoo is auctioning off over 3,000 patents and how this decision will affect the longevity of the company.

May 25, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the increase in the salary thresholdfor exempt employees and how employerscan try to avoid paying overtime as a result.

May 18, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the Baltimore law that makes it very difficult to operate food trucks in the city. They also discuss all the legal restrictions tohaving a food truck.

May 11, 2016

Matt listens to Nasir recap the developing battle in his hometown of Vandalia, Ohio over whether a Dunkin Donuts can move into a location in close proximity to a local favorite donut shop. They then discusswhether the issue is more legal or personal.

May 9, 2016

The guys kick off the week by discussing a Nevada employee who is claiming she was fired for not supporting the Scientology beliefs of her employer.

April 27, 2016

The guys discuss the massive floods in Houston,how employers responded, and why one meteorologist became a local hero. They also discuss the steps businesses should take in preparing for storms outside the workplace.

April 20, 2016

The guys discuss the boycott of Amazon over the products of an unnamed presidential candidate. They also talkabout how a business should handle a boycott and whether it’s possible to exit one unscathed.

April 13, 2016

Click here to read HubSpot’s response on this topic. Nasir and Matt discuss the trend in startups to compensate programmers and other early employees with stock options and how the company culture at HubSpot isn’t what it seems.

April 6, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss various lawsuits against social media platforms in which users are accused of artificially inflating their social currency.

We represent businesses.
That’s all we do.

Oh, and we love it.

We love our work. We love reviewing that lease for your new location. We thrive on closing that acquisition that nearly fell through. We’re fulfilled when we structure a business to grow, raise capital, and be legally protected.

We focus on developing close relationships with our clients by being like business partners. A partner who provides essential, personalized, proactive legal support.

We do all of this without utilizing the traditional billable hour model. You pay for the value we bring, not the time spent on calls, emails, and meetings.

Our team is made up of attorneys and staff that share these values and we are retained by clients who want the same.

Pasha Law PC operates in the states of California, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

Meet Our Team

Fractional General Counsel Services

Pasha Law Select offers the expertise of a high-end general counsel legal team for every aspect of your business at a fixed monthly rate. Pasha Law Select is deliberately designed to allow our legal team to be proactive, to anticipate, and to be comprehensive in serving our clients. To be great lawyers, we need to know our clients. We can’t know our clients unless we represent a select number of clients in the long-term. This is Pasha Law Select.

Learn More