‘Brave’ Opens at Number One Amid Strange, Humorous Trademark Disputes

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By Elizabeth S. Mitchell Comment

What do fruit preserves, a century-old baseball team, a misinformed attorney and a Scottish princess have in common? The word, “Brave.”

Disney-Pixar’s film Brave opened this past weekend to the tune of $66.7 million and was Pixar’s thirteenth number one opening. But Pixar has had difficulty securing a trademark for the movie’s title because, apparently, doing so may cause branding and marketing issues for a certain major league baseball team, and for…um…themselves?

The movie maker’s attempted registration has been hindered by two different disputes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Atlanta Braves filed an opposition to Disney’s attempted trademark of “Brave” at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board this past March. The team has sported their name since 1912, and felt that their brand would be damaged if Disney’s registration were successful.

While this may seem like a bit of a stretch (I mean, I’m pretty sure no one is heading to Turner Field expecting to witness a red-headed medieval Celtic princess perfecting her archery), if the specifics of the complaint focused on things like T-shirts, baseball caps and the like, it would make sense. But the team only listed objections to the following goods, citing the fact that they sell concessions at their games: “Fruit preserves; fruit-based snack foods; jams; jellies; potato chips; processed nuts; milk and milk products excluding ice cream, ice milk and frozen yogurt; meat, poultry, processed fruits, processed vegetables; prepared or packaged meals consisting primarily of meat, fish, poultry or vegetables.”

So, if you were hoping to buy processed vegetables that boast “Disney-Pixar’s Brave” on the packaging while enjoying a baseball game, you may be out of luck. But a baseball jersey with the same logo? It would seem that that would be just fine (?!). The two parties are said to be engaged in settlement talks.

If that all seems a bit ridiculous, take a moment to digest the second issue that has held up Disney’s trademarking request: This past April, a trademark examiner issued a final refusal on the attempted registration of “Disney Pixar Brave” because of concerns that there may be confusion with having Pixar’s registered mark included with Disney’s name. In other words, the trademark examiner somehow missed Disney’s highly publicized purchase of Pixar. Six years ago.

Disney has submitted a request for reconsideration (ya think?), and has reportedly provided supporting documentation like a SEC 10-K filing and screenshots of Pixar’s website, just in case the next trademark examiner is equally challenged at mastering the obvious. The Trademark Office has wisely allowed an appeal to resume.

Maybe the lawyers involved in these disputes could take a lesson from Merida on how to hit a target…or at least how to not miss your mark completely.