I have a few questions about trademark/copyright.
A novel I'm hoping to write would have Cinderella, Rapunzel, Beauty, Ariel, and Snow White. They are all gender-bent (male) with male names and different appearances. I will not be using the Disney stories (all happy, childish stuff), but with mentions of the original stories. The story will not focus on their original stories, but what happens when gender-bent Cinderella, Rapunzel, Beauty, Ariel, and Snow White meet and have to work together, while perhaps referencing something.
So what I'm asking is, are these stories and characters trade-marked or copyrighted? If so, would this be a violation? I'm rather new to writing, so I'm not very knowledgeable about these things. I appreciate the time anyone takes to read this and reply.
You and your own copyright attorney will need to determine whether the names and character traits of these fictional characters have passed into the public domain. IF so, then you may lawfully create your own versions of these characters and portray them in a book.
The names of some of the characters you mention serve as trademarks. Your own attorney will have to explain to you why those rights do NOT prevent authors from using those character names in their stories. Those trademark rights ONLY prevent the use by others of those names to brand certain and identifiable products or services.
The above response 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.
The new work, even though substantially different in tone, may be claimed to be a derivative work and infringing. Or, the new work likely trades on the celebrity of well known status of the names which are likely protected. See intellectual property counsel.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.
This cannot be answered on a public forum as so much will depend on your final work. Whether or not there is potential infringement issues will depend on what you have actually written. Certain story lines belong to Disney -- others are in the public domain. You will need to work very closely with an IP attorney during the entire process.
I agree with what the other attorneys have told you. I would add that Disney owns trademarks and copyrights to most everything it produces and vigorously enforces them. So the advice to consult an attorney one on one is crucial so that your exact concept can be evaluated against principles of copyright and trademark law to see if what you want to do has a legitimate claim to not being infringing or a defense to infringement. And if it is defensible, you should also ask the attorney how much it might cost you to prove that if Disney disagrees.
Please note: This answer is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice. Such professional advice requires full disclosure to an attorney of a client’s circumstances and that attorney’s opportunity to analyze those circumstances against applicable law.
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