Little Miss Infringer

IP360 reported today about an interesting trademark dispute between the Walt Disney Corporation and company named Thoip.  Thoip holds the right to the popular “Little Miss” series of childrens books.

In 2007, Disney began purchasing officially licensed Little Miss T-shirts featuring characters from the books to be sold in the gift shops at Disneyland, making them one of the few non-Disney items to be sold at the park, according to Thoip’s suit.

Shortly afterwards, Disney merchandising subsidiaries introduced their own line of shirts that feature Disney characters and very similar slogans.

So what rights are being infringed?  According to Counterfeit Chic, as of the filing of the lawsuit, only MR MEN LITTLE MISS was a registered mark in the US.  However, it appears that Thoip is alleging that Disney is infringing the family of marks, along with various state common law infringement claims.  Disney recently answered, claiming that the words “Little Miss” are generic.

An interesting case.  Maybe it depends on how old you are, but I think Thoip probably has a pretty good argument that the “Little Miss” phrase is associated with their products: I know that I, for one, knew exactly what the article was about just by seeing the phrase “Little Miss” in the headline.  I don’t know whether that actually supports their claims, but it nonetheless makes me want to root for them.


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