back to article Disney sued over Pixar lamp 'copy'

A Norwegian company that invented the inspiration for cinema's best-loved light fixture is suing The Walt Disney Company and animator Pixar for alleged trade mark infringement. Luxo makes swivel table lamps that Pixar founder John Lasseter has said were the inspiration for his company's logo. A pair of Luxo lookalike lamps …

COMMENTS

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  1. Bilgepipe
    Thumb Down

    Greedy

    I hope Disney get their arses kicked. The only way they seem able to make any money these days is to buy something successful - like Marvel Comics, for example - and milk it dry.

    Walt must be spinning in his grave.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    live by the sword

    Considering that Disney is such an inflexible and absoute defender of it's own copyrights and IP, I really hope they get taken for every penny in this case.

  3. Cliff

    Just settle

    C'mon Disney, don't be dicks about this one, you know you'd go straight for the jugular the other way around. (I swear that mouse has no soul)

  4. Richard 81

    Should be a no-brainer

    Open and shut case? Clearly Disney is using their brand name on a copy of an existing product.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    yup...

    ...looks like a pretty straight forward rip off to me...

  6. Lionel Baden

    actually

    Fair enough on this

    At least they arn't trying to rip them off for just animating their design etc etc

    Fair case hope disney lose

  7. RMartin

    Lights out

    At first I thought this was just another IP trolling story, but it looks like a pretty clear slam dunk case. You could argue that the logo itself as used in the films is a bit of free advertising for Luxo, but selling lamps with the actual NAME is blatant IP theft in all senses of the phrase. Naughty Disney.

  8. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Interesting

    Micros~1 v i4i

    Sony Mexico vs whovere that singer is

    And now Disney... all of this couldn't be happening to nicer people :)

  9. Robin

    Give As Good As They Get?

    Luxo should just make a lamp called the Disney(r) Jnr and see how well that goes down at Disney HQ.

  10. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge
    Coat

    @Bilgepipe

    Spinning in his freezer cabinet, surely?

  11. Paul Durrant
    FAIL

    Remarkable Unanimity

    I don't think I've ever seen such unanimity in the comments to a Register story.

    Disney FAIL. Luxo, rightly, did nothing about Pixar's (& later Disney's) use of an image of their lamp. But manufacturing an actual imitation lamp called "Luxo, Jr." is a straight-forward violation of Luxo's trademarks.

    Disney should settle, quickly and generously. Luxo are entirely in the right on this one.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bomb Disneyland!

    (No, silly, that's not an incitement to violence, it's a reference to a famous IP-law case involving the mouse. The band gave in and had to change their name to "Bomb Everything". I can't help but wonder if "Bomb Everything, and naturally 'Everything' includes Disneyland" would have been alright...)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Long brown non animated coat

    Mines the one with the Luxo bulbs in the pocket.

  14. Hywel Thomas
    Thumb Up

    Agree as well.

    Initially thinking that it was probably trolling, but seems fair enough. They had no problem while is was virtual. Behind Luxo on this one.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    Whiny Norwegians

    Stupid whiny Norwegians. First it was Opera, now it's some crappy little lamp maker.

    Who do this "Luxo" company think they are, to tell Disney what they can and can't sell?

  16. Stef 1
    Pirate

    Could do better...

    (assuming applicable timescales can accomodate, don't know how old that design is...maybe too old and/or US Design Patent would have already expired)

    If only they'd filed a US Design Patent and/or it still applied, they'd have been able to add that one as well, for good measure.

    I wonder if they've still got a Community Design Right and a UK Design Right running on this, for infringing versions in UK/EU Disney shops. Oh well, there's always passing-off I suppose.

    Clear cut cases like this, one should always be throrough and make sure everything and the kitchen sink is throwable...

    Pirates @ Disney :evil twisted smiley:

  17. Tom 11
    Happy

    Disney lawsuit news just in....

    Clyde Tombaugh is suing Disney for the use of his IP 'Pluto' claiming that naming a cartoon dog after the same name could confuse his patrons, "the inferior quality of the cartoon dog may be confused with astrological bodies discovered in the early 20th century, leading to the degradation of the integrity of my discovery"

    Clyde has yet to recieve any loyalties for profits generated by "unabashed and brasen theft of his potential business expansion"

    Aristole had his oar in, but later discovered he had left his glasses at home.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Total Unanimity

    Surely infringement cases don't get more "open and shut" than this?

    Company B is making a counterfeit version of Company A's trademarked product. End of.

    The fact that Company B is the rabidly litigious Disney makes it all the more delicious.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Bilgepipe

    Both spinning and burning one would hope. He was NOT a nice man.

  20. A. H. O. Thabeth

    Could we bankrupt Disney(r) by

    buy lots of these? Would this force Disney(r) have to pay Luxo a larger settlement?

    Just a thought.

  21. Player_16
    Heart

    @ Robin

    Agree... but call it a Minnie... and paint it black with a white-on-red, pok-a-dot base.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_HgPZTxiZsSI/SoKlQSRgurI/AAAAAAAABeA/ad2iuah3J88/s1600-h/minnie+mouse+1.jpg

  22. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Remarkable Unanimity

    "I don't think I've ever seen such unanimity in the comments to a Register story."

    Them's fighting words, ... but ... , no I can't bring myself to disagree. Damn!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    I agree too.

    Go Luxo, sue them good and proper.

    Although it's interesting that Luxo didn't sue Pixar for animating their lamp and selliung that, but rather waited until Disney made a lamp based off the animation. Third derivative patent infringement?

  24. Cameron Colley

    RE: Remarkable Unanimity

    I think it must be a reflection of the open and shut nature of the case -- even us IP-sceptic commentards can see what Disney is doing is wrong.

  25. Toastan Buttar
    Thumb Up

    Gotta agree

    Disney should simply say "my bad" and settle without any fuss.

  26. Dave Coventry
    Coat

    I dunno

    I remember seeing the Luxo Jnr short at school, which ain't yesterday.

    Disney must feel that they have a very good case for the name to be deemed to be associated with Pixar rather than Luxo (who?).

    IANAL, but is it not the case that the trademarked lamp has been in the public domain for some years (decades)? and given that the patent-holder has not hitherto objected, I would say that Disney are probably going to win it.

    Rather like a right of way at the foot of your garden that people have used for years. Technically, it's still your property (I think), but you can't put a gate across it.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Walt was a crook

    "Walt must be spinning in his grave."

    Hardly. The man was a bastard who stabbed his best friend in the back in order to steal his share of the animation company the two of them set up together.

    "You stay here and work on our next short, Ub; I'll go register the company."

    "Sure thing, Walt, old Pal."

    "Oh, dear. It seems I've accidently registered the company in my name alone."

    "Jez, Walt, old buddy, that's a bit of a blunder. I guess we'd better head downtown and get it fixed."

    "Get back to work, slacker."

    Burn in hell, Disney.

  28. Graham Marsden

    @Give As Good As They Get?

    Surely Luxo should just make a novelty lamp in the shape of Mickey Mouse.

    I'm sure Disney Corp would be fine with that...!

  29. Hayden Clark

    Had they any brain...

    ...they would have paid Luxo to make the promotional mini-lamp. At $120, I guess they could afford it too!

  30. BOBSta
    Coat

    lamp?

    ...So, Disney /AREN'T/ selling webservers, then?

  31. Popperist

    @Bilgepipe

    Walt spinning in his grave? I think not.

    Whatever you think of his creative output, his business ethics??....business:yes - ethics:no

    Abuse your employees, market other peoples ideas as your own, whatever.

    It was all grist for Uncle Walt's mill.

    I think his reation would be "that's my boys. Lawyers, make me proud"

  32. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Maybe....

    The only way I can see disney being semi-in the right for this case, is if when Pixar started using the lamp they negotiated some kind of deal with luxo that luxo foolishly left at risk to a wider interpretation.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Ve haff vays...

    Disney was once a member of the NAZI party.

  34. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    WTF?

    Copyright mafia owngoal

    Typical of the copyright mafia, copyright only applies to the stuff they sell... More importantly, how did this get past Dizzney's own lawyers, where they too busy suing unmarried mothers and unemployed people to do their job properly.

    Is it any wonder people have no respect for anything the MAFIAA say and consider all copyrighted material fair game, Micro$hit ripping off i4i, Morrissey calling on people not to buy the Smiths re-issues because he is not getting any royalties for them (cough-cough, pot, kettle etc.), and now Dizzney ripping off a lamp manufacturer. It seems with the big players is a case of don’t do as I do, do as I say.

    Quick where’s my “Dizzney is destroying the lamp manufacturing industry” logo tee-shirt

  35. Popperist

    I woder...

    If the two products are made in same factory.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Netbook!

    I don't see how this is any different to PSION's claim to the name "Netbook".

    Come on PSION, set em in your sights.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Don't settle!

    Luxo should stand firm and not settle out of court. Disney will only get 'taught a lesson' if they have to have their day in court.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Ah Disney...

    I despise most large corps, but Disney really get up my nose because they are a huge corp, but pretend to be this family friendly, little cottage animation house, bringing joy to all the kiddies everywhere! No, your a huge, faceless corp, knocking out second-rate mind-pap for the dumbed-down masses to consume by the trough load!

    This will come to nothing, what's a $500M payoff compared to the amount they will rake in worldwide during the next 24 hours!

  39. Stef 1
    Pirate

    Once again for the IP-illitera... -sceptics:

    Copyright - applies to anything in your head which you express (and only if you express it, and protection is only for that expression, not the idea behind it)

    Trademark - applies to a mark used in the course of trade, to indicate the origin of the goods/services to which it is applied

    Design - applies to the appearance/features/ornamentation of a tangible product (including 2D GUI, e.g.)

    Patent - applies to the idea behind the expression (re. copyright above) *if* technical (and new, not obvious, etc, etc.)

    Assuming from earlier comments that the Luxo lamp is decades old, it doesn't appear any patent or registered/unregistered designs can be enforced (in respect of what the lamp *looks like*), nor can copyright be enforced (not an infringement to make 3D things out of 2D copyright-protected plans/drawings, and/or once more than 50 identical widgets are made - at least in the UK, that's the case).

    That leaves trademarks, i.e. the brand 'Luxo', which last forever (provided they are regularly renewed, if registered). Disney is marking its product 'Luxo Jr', which includes at least the trademark 'Luxo'. The fact that it is affixed to substantially similar articles is what makes this pretty much the proverbial slam-dunk.

    (of course, there's always the possibility of an obscure get-out clause in any earlier Pixar-Luxo deal which permits this, as rightly pointed out by Gordon 10 above).

    Still... arr!

  40. Robert Forsyth

    They will probably just slap on a "LAXO" sticker

    I have an Anglepoise lamp style lamp from Ikea on my desk, it must be only about the Luxo name.

  41. Mark 91

    Wow

    I really thought this article would be over the lamp used in the movies, and was ready to make fun of it.

    But, no, it really couldn't get much clearer that Luxo is in the right. What if I started to produce shoddy animated movies under the name Disney, Jr?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    stick it to them

    Stick it to them good.

    She knows how it goes.

  43. ElReg!comments!Pierre
    Pirate

    Sick'em

    Sickem good

  44. James O'Brien
    Grenade

    Commentards UNITE!!!

    Oh wait, we've already had some dissension here :)

    /HG for the fact that this is what Disney is holding right now

  45. Olof P
    Megaphone

    @ Stef 1: Thank you for making that clear

    For those interested, the trademark in question has serial number 73449167 at the US PTO and the type of goods it applies to is "Electric Lighting Fixtures and Electric Lamps Mounted on Fixed Brackets, Movable Bases and Stands, Including Electric Lamps Supported Spring-Arm Assemblies and Components Thereof." (First used in 1972, trademark granted in 1985 and renewed in 2005). Since it only applies to lamps, they could hardly use it to stop Pixar from making a movie, while they can stop any lamps from being sold under the Luxo name.

    Seriously, how did Disney not do a simple search at the PTO before launching the product?

  46. Fatman
    Grenade

    Disney, the Scumbags

    IIRC, wasn't Disney the company behind Sonny Bono's Copyright extension bill????

    Corporate lawyers speaking to Bono: "Can't let Mickey and Minnie go into the public domain, now can we?"

    Meanwhile they are thinking: "Got to milk this one as long as we can get away with it!"

    If I am correct on this matter, then it only becomes a case of

    -----> What goes around, comes around.

    I hope Luxo cleans their corporate clocks.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @ Dave Coventry

    "IANAL, but is it not the case that the trademarked lamp has been in the public domain for some years (decades)? and given that the patent-holder has not hitherto objected, I would say that Disney are probably going to win it."

    Nah, it is pretty straighforward.

    Luxo had no problem with the disney using the generic lamp "image".

    They now DO have a problem with them selling "Luxo"-branded lamps that aren't actually Luxo lamps.

    It really is an open and shut case. It won't make it to the courts....

  48. Ned Ludd
    Jobs Halo

    In defense of Disney

    I simply can't believe that the company that brought us Mary Poppins and the Little Mermaid would do anything even remotely unethical ... I think these ungrateful Norwegians should stop picking on Disney and the lot of you should be ashamed for be a bunch of nasty bullies.

  49. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Herbie

    Did Disney ever produce Herbie toys? they're basically a VW Beetle. VW could have sued?

    Of course the difference is the Herbie toy wasn't a drivable car.

  50. Olof P

    @ Giles Jones: It's not the design, it's the name

    So not on trademark grounds, no.

  51. peter 3

    I'm buying one

    Those lamps will be worth a fortune if all the other stock is destroyed.

  52. ratfox
    Unhappy

    I guess nobody checked where the name was coming from

    I am kind of wondering why it is necessary to sue to get Disney to cough up a settlement. I guess lawyers are the only way to get a corporation to pay any kind of attention to you...

    No wonder there are so many lawyers in US.

  53. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Asleep at the wheel?

    Unbelievable! Disney just copied the lamp and then figure they own it? Pretty typical for the stuff that Disney are turning out these days IMHO - still, the copy and we own it approach has worked well for them in so many other areas.

    I suggest that LUXO sue them for $50k per infringing lamp for damage to the trademark and Disney pay them a license fee for each DVD they sell that uses the LUXO image.

    Personally I'd waive all damages if they would simply tie Robert Iger to a dunking stool and dump him in the lake at Disneyland everyday for a year.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Disney, arrogant retarded hypocrites.

    Slam Dunk to Luxo, otherwise there is no (poetic) justice.

    Disney have always been hypocrites, at least some of their major characters were copied from other cartoonists, and they, like other movie businesses, originally set-up shop in Hollywood because of lax copyright enforcement there. Walt Disney was in favour of the Nazis, and possibly funded them, like several other corporate bosses; it was no accident that Mussolini said Fascism should really be called Corporatism! Disney also messed up generations of kids by anthropomorphising animals, in cartoons, so we got many more pathetic animal rights fanatics, and hypocritical 'rights' for animals.

    Personally I do not agree with so called Intellectual Property rights, however Disney are really taking the piss, and are using another companies trademarks for one of their over-priced products!

    If by some injustice Luxo lose their case, or get stone-walled, then I suggest it would be fair game for Luxo to make Disney themed products.

  55. Neoc

    I support Luxo

    Reading their comment, Luxo was comfortable with the use of the lamp's image as a logo - what they object is Disney using their Trademark to sell Disney toys.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two options

    Quite simply a cartoon of the Luxo lamp is like free advertising and makes the product look cool.

    However they only benefit from this if it results in sales for them. You have to sue if you just write and demand a fee they will offer you peanuts. Disney will have to do one of two things, cough up by settlement or buy the LUXO company (It might be cheaper than a court settlement!)

  57. tycooon

    Buy out ?

    Luxo isn't just a small startup with a couple of guys making lamps in a garage near Oslo. I think that Disney are better off paying up before things get worse.

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