“Disney Enterprises has been taken to Texas federal court by a trademark owner who objects to the “Lots-O’-Huggin'” stuffed bear character in Toy Story 3“. Lots-O is a psychologically dysfunctional stuffed animal featured in the movie, and is the principal “villain”. Diece-Lisa Industries is a company located in New Jersey, who created “Lots of Hugs” stuffed toy bears, and have been licensing them since 1995. DLI has trademarks, and a registered patent as well; they also state that Disney was well aware of this patent based on previous contracts with the company. DLI affiliated with Disney for its sale of “Bear in the Big Blue House” huggable stuffed bear product.
Disney is no stranger to Intellectual Property rights, and they have been strictly enforced in past endeavors. DLI claims that their business has been experiencing harm because of the wide success of Toy Story 3. Other business ventures have gone down the drain because of fear of Disney and consumer confusion. DLI entered into a license agreement in 2011 with Interactive Group for a bear product, and are now requiring the bear to be renamed “hugalots” instead of “Lots of Hugs” so there is no conflict with the “Lots-O’-Huggin” character. “DLI is now suing for unfair competition and trademark infringement and demanding profits attributable to the alleged bad actions, trebled damages and an injunction on future use of the “Lotso” character”.
In the past, Disney has been well aware of trademark and patent laws, and have upheld them to the fullest. DLI is a small company, now going up against unfair competition from an industry leader. The company clearly has intellectual property rights to the stuffed bear, and were even used for a promotional Olympic Panda Bear in 2008. Will Disney find a loophole, or will DLI’s product continue to suffer because of Disney’s monster success?