The use of the character Mickey Mouse and his future has been revealed amid a copyright battle.
Mickey Mouse has been a staple with The Walt Disney Company since its inception. Walt Disney himself said that it “all started with a mouse,” and Mickey remains a beloved icon in the Disney Parks at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, and in Disney entertainment to this day.
However, there have been reports over the last several months that Disney is in danger of losing copyright to its beloved character, the mouse who spawned beloved characters like Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and Daisy.
Disney just recently lost the copyright protection for Winnie the Pooh and many characters in the series, and almost immediately a trailer for a horror movie featuring Winnie the Pooh was revealed.
Disney’s 1928 Steamboat Willie character, the earliest version of Mickey Mouse, is set to enter the public domain in 2024, meaning that other companies could use the likeness of the character in promotions and much more. Once the character enters public domain, Disney will no longer be able to block artists or other companies from using the character’s likeness.
However, a lawyer recently revealed a common misconception that many fans have had about what this might mean. While the Steamboat Willie character might be used by others, the modern version of Mickey Mouse– with yellow shoes, white gloves, and red pants- does not enter the public domain in 2028.
“Mickey Mouse as we know him, in color with gloves and shoes, will not enter the public domain,” lawyer Marc Jonas Block told Newsweek. “Later, including current designs of Mickey Mouse, will still be copyrighted until their terms end. Also, Disney protects Mickey Mouse under both copyright and trademark laws.”
In addition, because Disney trademarks Mickey Mouse, the company will own the character for the foreseeable future.
“As such, though derivative uses of the Steamboat Willie version of the character may be used by others, Mickey Mouse will remain the property of Disney for the foreseeable future,” Block said.
The trademark protection bars anyone from commercially using the image of Mickey Mouse in a way that would suggest that the products were official Disney products.
What do you think of these explanations for the future of Mickey Mouse? Let us know in the comments!