On Friday, summary judgment papers came in a lawsuit that Disney has filed in New York against Nick Sarelli, who runs an operation called Characters for Hire, LLC.
Disney alleges that Sarelli has a “knock-off business … built upon the infringement of Plaintiffs’ highly valuable intellectual property rights,” including the fictional characters Darth Vader, Iron Man and Elsa and Anna from Frozen. Disney is upset how this company “provides unlicensed and poor quality appearances and performances” by actors dressed as “iconic characters for themed events, such as children’s parties.”
The lawsuit claims that the costumed actors appearing at these events and the advertising associated with this enterprise represent a violation of both its copyrights and trademark rights.
Anyone who has ever visited Times Square in New York City might wonder about the costumed characters taking pictures with tourists for money. The New York Police Department once even tried to get Disney to crack down. Disney didn’t take the bait, but for whatever reason, Mickey Mouse has put its foot down for Characters for Hire.