The tables have turned on Disney. After starting its public and still-ongoing lawsuit with deadmau5 over what it deems to be using the likeness of Mickey Mouse, Disney is now on the other end of a trademark battle with electronic music festival Tomorrowland. The current dispute stems from a new movie Disney is releasing in 2015 titled Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, and since the festival owns the rights to the name Tomorrowland in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the Disney film is being forced to make a name change to acquiesce with the trademark demands of ID&T, the promoter of Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland launched its first festival in 2005.
This legal discord between Tomorrowland the festival and Disney has some history. Disney owns the rights to the term Tomorrowland in the United States, since it is a themed land in each of the five Disney parks around the world. When the festival Tomorrowland decided to make the move Stateside, Disney forced the festival to make a name change, so it became TomorrowWorld.
Trademark attorney Sharon Daboul told the Belfast Telegraph:
"Disney has a trademark registration in the USA for the term Tomorrowland, dating back to 1970. With this registration, it was successfully able to prevent the music festival from calling itself Tomorrowland when it launched in the USA. However, the music festival has the rights to the term in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg and has prevented Disney from using the name in these countries."
Normally, this is something Disney could try and win by attrition, bury Tomorrowland under mountains of paperwork and outspend the festival with legal fees. But a rigid release schedule for the movie and the fact that ID&T is an SFX Entertainment property with hundreds of millions of dollars of financial backing will help deter such a strategy.
This could still get ugly with the bad blood between the two parties, but there does not appear to be a way out for Disney. The two parties might come to an agreement on this if SFX wants a share of the profits, but it could be used as a form of revenge for the initial name change in the United States.
Watch the trailer for Tomorrowland the movie and then the aftermovie for the festival Tomorrowland.