A prominent ear seller and leader of a prominent Disney Facebook group has been banned from all Disney properties for life.
For over a year, Kissimmee residents Christopher and Hannah Martin of Sparlking Dreamers have been locked in lawsuit litigations with the Walt Disney Company over their merchandise, which includes ear headbands and other items that feature Disney characters. The two ran a “Secret Disney Group” on Facebook, in which they sold hundreds of pieces of unauthorized merchandise to over 35,000 group members.
While small shops selling things like custom ear headbands and other Disney apparel is common, most are careful to avoid explicitly copyrighted material or claiming their shop is associated with the Walt Disney Company in any way. However, the Martins weren’t so careful, listing the official address for their shop as “Walt Disney World Resort,” and frequently held giveaways that included both their items and officially licensed items. They received a cease-and-desist from Disney in December 2021, with the company stating they wanted to avoid full-scale litigation.
@originalchrismartin Were being sued by THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY! We have remained quiet, up til now, but we want our voice to be heard! Bloggers, tiktokers & more are not telling the correct story… its time we clear the air on this all. #lawsuit #suedbydisney ♬ original sound – Christopher Martin
In late January, Christopher Martin made a TikTok detailing the 700-page complaint he received from the company. In the complaint, Disney claimed the couple disregarded the cease-and-desist and went on to make “superficial changes to their business and continued selling counterfeit items.” Their logo also, allegedly, too closely invoked Disneyland’s Park entrance. Disney continued that the couple “has not only ignored Plaintiffs’ demand to surrender any and all infringing merchandise within its possession but has used sales promotions to sell as many infringing products as quickly as possible — including as recently as November 2022.”
Today, Martin was escorted out of the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World by Orange County police officers and Disney security, posting an Instagram reel of his walkout and followed with an extended Facebook live stream from the taxi escorting him off the property. In it, he claimed he was trespassed and banned from all Disney properties, and it was due to “something about Annual Pass violations.” Martin was wearing his unauthorized merchandise in the Instagram reel.
Disney is no stranger to suing influencers and other online content creators over copyright infringement. Last August, a TikToker was sued for making a replica Lightning McQueen car. Being banned from the property, while serious, is not always permanent, and even celebrity Rebel Wilson was temporarily banned for taking a selfie in a backstage bathroom. Bans are usually reserved for unsafe or illegal behavior, such as a Guest who was banned from Disneyland for stepping onto a moving boat.