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Is there such a thing as a "look alike company"??

Chino Hills, CA |

A friend of mine recently started a business hosting character events. However the characters look remarkably similar to Disney and Nickelodeon characters. After I told him he's likely to get at the very least a cease and desist letter, he told me that he's running a "look alike" company and because his characters are look alikes and that he doesn't claim them to be a certain character such as Mickey, that it's all ok and legal. He went on to say that there are certain rules that look alike companies must follow.

Is there even such as thing as a look alike company? What is likely to happen to my friends business?

Attorney Answers 3


Q: "Is there even such as thing as a look alike company?'
R: No.

Q: "What is likely to happen to my friends business?"
R: It will be sued for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition. And it will lose.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

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There is no “look alike company” exception to basic intellectual property laws. If a character looks like Mickey Mouse (a copyrighted character), then it infringes Disney’s copyright. It doesn’t matter whether your friend names the character “Ripoff the Mouse-who-isn’t-Mickey”. Similarly with trademarks (as these characters are also registered trademarks of the companies). Your friend’s company will be sued and shut down.

(949) 390-2717 - Of course there's more to it! Plus, we don't have an attorney-client relationship. This brief comment is for information only, and must not be relied upon as legal advice.

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Disney characters are both trademark and copyright, although the copyright will soon expire, the trademark right will not.
Look alike may or many not be infringement, that only an Intellectual Property attorney examining the evidence can tell you. In principle if in your eyes it is an obvious copy or like copy, then it will be most likely an infringement. Disney the definitely the wrong party to mess with and changing the name of the character will not suffice.

USPTO Registered Patent Attorney, Master of Intellectual Property law, MBA I am neither your attorney, nor my answers or comments in create an attorney-client relationship with you. You may accept or disregard my free advice in at your own risk. I am a Patent Attorney, admitted to the USPTO and to the Florida Bar.

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