Disney Sues Theatre Company For Copyright and Trademark Infringement Over "Spider-Man" and Other Disney Classics

turn-off-darkWhen you pull on a mouse’s ears, you are going to get bit. Disney has sued a Pennsylvania theatre group for the unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted works from “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and other Disney properties. The theatre, despite being put on notice from Disney, continues to put on a stage show that incorporates visuals and songs from many of Disney’s copyrighted works.
The defendant Entertainment Theatre Group (“ETG”) puts on a show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in a 1,500 seat theater called “Broadway: Now and Forever”. The show takes bits and pieces of many Broadway shows including Disney’s “Mary Poppins”, “The Lion King” and “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and has actors sing the copyrighted songs and dress like the characters in the show. However, ETG never received permission to reproduce the copyrighted materials. ETG even continues to put on the show despite receiving cease and desist letters and even after the parties’ lawyers discussed ETG’s infringement. Disney claims that because of these communications, ETG’s infringement is willful. Further, Disney has asserted claims of trademark infringement because ETG also copied some of Disney’s iconic posters and trademarks to promote the show.
Disney is requesting monetary damages in the amount of close to $5 million, its attorneys’ fees and a permanent injunction preventing future performances of the show. Still, the website is advertising future performance of the show despite the lawsuit. ETG’s infringement is turning from willful to very very willful if they keep the show going.