Disney Forced to Face ‘Toy Story 3’ Lawsuit

in Entertainment, Pixar

Angry Woody on the left and Movie Scene from 'Toy Story 3' on the right

Credit: Inside the Magic

The Walt Disney Company is facing yet another crushing legal battle, this time involving the critically beloved hit film Toy Story 3 (2010), which is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most successful animated movies of all time. However, success often comes with a target attached, and the United States Supreme Court has ruled that Disney Pixar must go to court over a Pixar issue over which it has previously prevailed twice (per Reuters).

Related: ‘Toy Story’ Theory Suggests Woody Was Destined to be Evil

While that might sound like a case of double jeopardy (not unlike the 1999 Ashley Judd-Tommy Lee Jones movie of that name), it is a little more complicated than that for Disney this time. Essentially, the Supreme Court has determined that a previous ruling for Disney Pixar regarding Toy Story 3 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is not valid, and asking (read: instructing) that the case be reviewed once more.

Disney Is Being Sued Over ‘Toy Story 3’ Character Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear

Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear toy story 3
Credit: Disney/Pixar

The Disney lawsuit was filed by New Jersey toy creator Randi Altschul, who claims that the Toy Story 3 character Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (who was voiced by legendary actor Ned Beatty) infringed on her company’s Lots of Hugs bear, which is a wearable stuffed animal.  In that respect, it is a pretty cut-and-dry trademark infringement case.

Here’s a vintage commercial for the original toy, which does not appear nearly as villainous as the Pixar character:

While the Toy Story 3 character was pretty overtly modeled after the real-life toy, previous courts had ruled that Disney was covered under First Amendment protections, which generally include things like parody and satire (or a cuddly pink bear toy turning out to be a bitter, autocratic tyrant).

Altschul’s lawsuit against Disney was dismissed twice before, in 2021 and 2022. However, the Supreme Court recently ruled against the “Rogers test” (no relation to Marvel‘s Captain America), basically saying that parody products do not necessarily merit First Amendment protections. Given that Disney/Pixar has actively marketed and sold real-life Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bears, which could be mistaken for Altschul’s Lots of Hugs bear, there is potentially a pretty huge case against the massive media conglomerate this time around.

Related: ‘Toy Story’: “Deleted Scene” Shows Andy Finding Out Woody Is Alive

Disney’s Legal Issues Keep Growing

Clip from 'Lightyear' Credit Disney
Credit: Disney

Despite the poor commercial and critical performance of the Chris Evans-starring Pixar spinoff movie Lightyear, the Toy Story franchise is the closest that the Magic Kingdom has to a sure thing these days, so it’s unlikely this lawsuit will slow down Toy Story 5. However, given the legal issues that Disney is facing in Florida in its ongoing battle with Gov Ron DeSantis over Walt Disney World, LGBTQ+ issues, and basically everything, this doesn’t feel like a great time for the company to be facing a different case.

 

 

 

 

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