By IMPERIAL VALLEY PRESS STAFF
3:16 AM EDT, May 11, 2013
It is by no accident that Mickey Mouse remains one of the most recognizable figures in the world. Because of the marketing genius of the Walt Disney Co., that lovable mouse enjoys a reputation quite unlike that of any other corporate figure the world over.
You would think that as a worldwide purveyor of family entertainment, the company is well aware that it’s sheer size and reach guarantee that its actions will not go unnoticed. But as of late, a couple of attempts to trademark popular phrases revealed a side most adults found highly questionable, if not outright offensive.
The first came just days after the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. That was when Disney attempted to trademark the term “SEAL Team 6” in order to secure exclusive right to the phrase for items ranging from toys and games to Christmas stockings. Disney would ultimately drop its application with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office less than a month later after taking much criticism from the general public as well as the Navy itself.
Barring any attempt to trademark phrases such as “Happy Hanukkah” or “Merry Christmas,” it would be hard to imagine Disney’s crass profiteering sinking any lower. Yet, they would.
Just this month Disney found itself at the center of much criticism from the Latino community after it attempted to trademark the phrase “Dia de los Muertos.” The application was in advance of a yet-to-be named feature film about the popular Mexican and Latin American religious holiday that Disney-Pixar is currently developing.
The public’s indignation, which wasn’t necessarily limited to Latinos, was swift and merciless, and in our view well-deserved. What makes the action all the more unfathomable is that Disney has a diversity officer whose job it is, according to a 2012 press release published by a Disney-owned subsidiary, to leverage the company’s “internal diversity to engage the marketplace.”
To their credit, Disney would drop these applications as well. And while it remains to be seen whether the trademark attempts will result in lasting damage to the entertainment behemoth’s reputation or bottom line, it does give one pause for concern, not to mention a black eye on that lovable mouse.
THE ISSUE: Disney attempt to trademark “Dia de los Muertos”
WE SAY: Wrongheaded move, Disney.
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