You don’t have to be a Disney enthusiast like myself to be familiar with its latest blockbuster franchise, Frozen. To date, the film has grossed over 1.2 billion dollars in worldwide box office revenue, making it the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the fifth highest-grossing film overall. The fact is, Frozen has taken the world by storm since its November 27, 2013 release, and it does not appear to be letting up as Disney is planning on opening a Frozen themed ride at Walt Disney World and a Frozen musical on Broadway. Nonetheless, one New Jersey woman is seeking to put an immediate halt on Disney’s cash cow with the filing of her complaint for copyright infringement in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
On September 22, 2014, Isabella Tanikumi—also known as L. Amy Gonzalez, filed a complaint against the Walt Disney Company (“Disney”) alleging copyright infringement because Disney purportedly stole at least eighteen (18) elements of Frozen from her 2010 autobiography, Living My Truth. Specifically, Ms. Tanikumi has cited the following similarities: (1) both stories involve villages at the base of snow covered mountains; (2) both stories involve two sisters with different colored hair; (3) both stories involve one of the two sisters injuring the other; (4) both stories have two male characters who act as the romantic interest of one of the sisters; and (5) open doors/gates are involved in the endings of both respective tales. This list is merely illustrative, but for those of you who wish to see the entire list, feel free to read the complaint and its attachment by clicking Isabelle Tanikumi AKA L. Amy Gonzalez v. The Walt Disney Company. In the interest of providing full disclosure, the remaining similarities do not get much more mind blowing than those stated above. Regardless, Ms. Tanikumi obviously believes that she has been wronged by Disney, but whether she can prevail on these farfetched claims remains to be seen.
Based on the foregoing allegations, Ms. Tanikumi seeks $250 million dollars and an order that Disney “cease and desist from any and all sales, distribution, and marketing of Frozen in any media format.” In more formal legal terms, Ms. Tanikumi is not only seeking monetary damages, but also an injunction to stop all future Frozen related commerce. Although it is unclear whether there is any evidentiary support for Ms. Tanikumi’s allegations, what is clear is that her complaint is going to need substantial revision if it is going to survive a Rule 12(b) Motion to Dismiss under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure due to the unpolished and conclusory manner in which it is currently drafted. In any event, stay tuned for future developments.