Earlier this year, Disney and Phase 4 Films settled a lawsuit over Phase 4’s attempts to capitalize on Disney’s latest animated success, Frozen. Phase 4’s film was originally titled The Legend of Sarila. According to the complaint filed by Disney, it was released November 1, 2013, a few weeks before Frozen’s release, to dismal box office revenues. Phase 4 then changed the film’s name to Frozen Land, and redesigned the film’s logo to mimic that of Disney’s Frozen. For a side-by-side look at the logos, see the complaint filed by Disney here.
In the settlement, Phase 4 agreed to immediately stop marketing and distributing its film under the name Frozen Land, and pay Disney $100,000. At first I was skeptical of Disney’s claim, but after comparing the separate logos, it seems highly unlikely that this was anything but a blatant attempt to profit off of Frozen‘s success. The logos contain the same color scheme, the same shape, and almost identical fonts.
As far as the Lanham Act violation claim, it seems almost certain that consumers would be confused as to the relation between the two movies, perhaps reasonably assuming that Frozen Land is a spin-off of Frozen. They also settled an unfair competition claim that was based on Disney’s claims that Phase 4’s Frozen Land caused irreparable damage to Disney’s goodwill and reputation.
Late last month, in Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, the Ninth Circuit held that the Principal of Live Oak High School properly exercised the school’s rights when he offered students wearing T-shirts bearing the American Flag on Cinco de Mayo the choice to either turn their shirts inside out or go home for the day. The Principal’s action came on the heels of threats of violence from Mexican-American students earlier in the day and the occurrence of a slight physical altercation on Cinco de Mayo 2009. The students were not disciplined in any way for their decisions to go home rather than turn their shirts inside out.
The court rested its decision on the First Amendment challenge made by the students on the 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503. In Dariano, the Ninth Circuit applied Tinker to find that the school could restrict student speech based upon officials’ reasonable belief that the T-shirts would cause a “material and substantial” disruption in school activities. The Ninth Circuit distinguished the facts of Dariano from those of Tinker by finding that in Tinker, there was no threat of disruption from the wearing of the armbands, whereas there were actual threats of violence throughout the day at Live Oak High School. Continue reading “Ninth Circuit Rules on Free Speech Issue in Schools”