From Volume 89, Number 3 (March 2016)
What happens when an iconic cartoon mouse and an internationally renowned, electronic dance music disc jockey face off? While this may sound like the making of a fictitious scenario, this was actually the underlying context of the 2015 trademark dispute between Walt Disney Company (“Disney”) and Joel Zimmerman —stage name “deadmau5” (pronounced “dead mouse”)—in which Disney challenged the trademark registration of deadmau5’s logo. Though short-lived, and likely best remembered for its attention grabbing headlines, the dispute is instructive as to how U.S. trademark law should adapt to international trademark disputes. While the deadmau5-Disney dispute ended by a settlement between the parties, it is extremely probable that there will be more trademark disputes with common factual underpinnings in the future; thus, the dispute raises more questions than answers.