In December 2013, Disney filed for trademark protection against Phase 4 Films, claiming that the latter’s Frozen Land was a direct rip-off of its own smash hit Frozen. But what if, as a new lawsuit claims, the idea for Frozen wasn’t Disney’s to protect in the first place?
Animator Kelly Wilson filed a lawsuit against Disney on March 28, claiming that the media giant stole the idea for Frozen from her own short film The Snowman. Wilson and co-creator Neil Wrischnik obtained copyright protection for the short film in early 2011.
Interestingly enough, the focus of Wilson’s lawsuit is not the movie itself. Instead, Wilson believes Disney infringed in a trailer for Frozen, which Wilson’s suit says is eerily similar to The Snowman. Wilson believes that since the trailer is a part of the reason for the Disney film’s success, she should receive a portion of the film’s profits.
“The Snowman and the FROZEN teaser trailer present the exact same plot in exactly the same sequence,” the suit says. “There is no difference in the plot between the two works, except that The Snowman is longer in running time and therefore has additional plot elements. Both works are about: (1) a snowman competing with animals for a carrot nose on slippery ice; and (2) the formerly adversarial animals acting out of friendship to return the carrot nose to the snowman.”
As part of the lawsuit, Wilson includes links to multiple independent websites that came to the same conclusion of infringement. This shows, she says, that the two pieces are not distinguishable
In addition, according to Wilson, there is a definite likelihood that Disney animators had at least seen her project. She submitted The Snowman to Disney on multiple occasions between 2009 and 2012 as part of a job application, the lawsuit says. Wilson’s film was posted online in 2010, and in her lawsuit, she claims that her film was shown in several film festivals where Pixar representatives were “present.”
Disney may not want to take the advice of the movie’s hit song and “Let It Go.” The full lawsuit can be seen at TechDirt.
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