Lotso Lawsuit – Disney Sued Over Toy Story 3’s Teddy Bear Villain

Lotso0001New Jersey toy company Diece-Lisa Industries are suing Disney over an alleged misappropriation of its “Lots of Hugs” stuffed bear toys in the film Toy Story 3.

Diece-Lisa allege that Toy Story 3’s villainous Lotso (short for Lots-O’-Huggin’) character, who rules the toys at Sunnyside Day Care Center, infringes the copyright of its trademarked “Lots of Hugs” toys, which it has been licensing since 1995. This isn’t the first time they’ve filed a claim on this issue: according to Deadline, legal action was taken against Disney Shopping Inc and QVC last year, and against Pixar in 2012. In addition to trademarks, the company also owns a registered patent, and as Deadline puts it, “with Disney Enterprises as its latest defendant, Diece-Lisa is determined that the Toy Story 3 character has caught consumers in a retail bear hug.”

While avoiding directly claiming that Disney knew about their toys before making the film, the complaint, which you can read here, states that Diece-Lisa licensed its “hugging technology” for use in merchandise relating to the Jim Henson Company’s Bear in the Big Blue House, which was sold to Disney in 2004, six years before the release of Toy Story 3. It also observes that Disney never claimed copyright protection for its Lotso character, despite the fact that it did so for other major Toy Story characters.

The film was hugely profitable, making more than $1 million from box office sales and $7 billion from related merchandise globally. Meanwhile, the toy company claims it has suffered as a result of the alleged infringement, having been forced to change the name of its product range when signing a licensing deal with Interactive Group in 2011:

“IG was fearful to use the ‘Lots of Hugs’ mark for the DLI licensed bear products in view of the worldwide success of the Toy Story 3 movie — fearing Disney and consumer confusion with Defendant [Disney’s] ‘Lots-O’-Huggin” bear a/k/a ‘Lotso’ bear character if IG should market and sell ‘Lots of Hugs’ bears. Subsequently, IG required that the licensed bear be marked ‘hugalots’ instead of ‘Lots of Hugs.'”

Diece-Lisa argues that Disney has in the past “aggressively enforced its various intellectual property rights”, and even points to joint legal action it took with DC to protect certain characters appearing in Toy Story films. DLI is attempting to obtain money in damages as well as rights declarations from the courts and an injunction preventing further use of the Lotso character.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney declined to comment when asked for a statement. Based on what’s happened so far, there is cause to wonder whether this particular case will prove any more successful for Diece-Lisa than its previous attempts, but of course, only time will tell.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter | Deadline

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