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This past weekend the animated movie Brave debuted in theaters as the latest in a long line of crowd-pleasing productions from Disney Pixar. In its debut weekend, Brave brought in approximately $66.7 million and was number one at the box office. Nevertheless, Disney Pixar has struggled to acquire a trademark for the title of its new box office hit. That’s because the Atlanta Braves, a Major League Baseball team, filed an opposition to the proposed trademark this past March at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The Braves claim that their brand would be damaged if Disney Pixar is successful in acquiring the trademark.
The strangest thing about this situation is the scope of the objection made by the Braves. Citing the fact that they sell branded concessions at their baseball games, the team only listed objections to the following goods: “Fruit preserves; fruit-based snack foods; jams; jellies; potato chips; processed nuts; milk and milk products excluding ice cream, ice milk and frozen yogurt; meat, poultry, processed fruits, processed vegetables; prepared or packaged meals consisting primarily of meat, fish, poultry or vegetables.” In other words, the folks at Turner Field have no problem with Brave baseball caps or Brave baseball jerseys, but if Disney Pixar produced some Brave fruit preserves, one of the National League’s charter franchises might come tumbling down.
At the end of the day, I suspect Disney Pixar will ultimately be able to acquire its trademark. There are reports that the two sides have entered into a settlement negotiation and are currently ironing out the final details.
On a slightly different (and even more baffling) note, Disney Pixar has also faced challenges in acquiring a trademark for the extended title “Disney Pixar Brave.” The hurdles facing this mark didn’t come from a sports team though. Nope, the USPTO issued a final refusal on its own, citing that it would be confusing to include Pixar’s registered mark with Disney’s name. You might be thinking, “Doesn’t Disney own Pixar?” Yes, Disney does own Pixar, but apparently there is a trademark examiner at the USPTO that didn’t know this. This same examiner also didn’t realize that there are already numerous trademarks that include both the Disney and Pixar names. Needless to say, Disney submitted a request for reconsideration, and the USPTO has a allowed an appeal to ensue.
Between baseball teams and trademark examiners who live in cave, Disney Pixar has faced more opposition than it was probably anticipating over the last few months. Regardless, I plan to be plopped in seat with a big bucket of popcorn this weekend watching what I’m sure is another Pixar classic. I advise everyone to do the same!
– Tracy Hancock
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