The favorite of millions and the most recognizable Disney brand can become a public property. In 2024, the entertainment giant may lose exclusive rights to several of its characters, including Mickey Mouse. This is reported by The Guardian.
Anonymous or pseudo-anonymous works of art can be owned for a maximum of 95 years, and for Mickey Mouse, created on October 1, 1928, that period is coming to an end. However, as media and entertainment lawyer Daniel Mayeda points out, copyright expiration has its limitations.
“You can use the Mickey Mouse character as it was originally created to create your own Mickey Mouse stories or stories with this character. But if you do so in a way that people will think of Disney – which is kind of likely because they have been investing in this character for so long – then in theory, Disney could say you violated my trademark,” says the lawyer.
Mickey Mouse first appeared in the black and white cartoon Steamboat Willie. It was the first such picture where the movements on the screen were synchronized with music and sound effects.
After that, over the years, the character changed his appearance and character traits many times. It used to look more like a rat, with a long, sharp nose, small body, black eyes, and a long tail.
It is this option that becomes public domain. All other types of Mickey Mouse will only be available to the general public when they reach their age limit of 95. And certain features of the character, which are recognized as part of the Disney brand, may forever remain the property of the entertainment giant.
For example, characters’ catchphrases or their signature clothing can be used by Disney as its own trademark. Unlike copyrights, trademarks do not have an expiration date.
We remind that some Disney characters have already become public domain. Among them is Winnie the Pooh, who soon may appear in an unexpected horror genre. A horror film based on a children’s fairy tale is set to release on IMDb.