If there is one thing that a lot of die-hard Disney fans know, it’s that you can find a lot of great homemade Disney-themed merchandise online. Disney Parks sell a ton of great merchandise, but they don’t always have things that cater to specific likes. And, as they say, anything can be found online. Disney fans are able to find merchandise for almost any type of Disney fandom they are a part of. While that isn’t typically a problem, Disney has been cracking down on certain creators for violating trademark laws.
Typically, Disney will send out notices to the parties in question and tell them that they need to stop making their merchandise, or legal action will be taken. According to a new report from Florida Politics, one such company didn’t listen to the cease and desist letter, instead creating a second company, so they could continue to break the law. And now Disney is taking the next step and suing the small company.
Disney said it tried to resolve the issue without litigation and sent two cease and desist letters in December 2021. The Martins lied and promised to shut down their enterprise but instead made “superficial changes to their business” and kept selling items, Disney said in the lawsuit.
Furthermore, Disney said in the lawsuit, the Martins confused customers by suggesting their Secret Disney Group was tied to The Walt Disney Co.
Disney pointed to how the Martins listed their shop’s address as “Walt Disney World Resort” on their website and sometimes held giveaways that featured both licensed Disney merchandise and the Martins’ items.
When the Martins started their second group, the Sparking Dreamers, they “went so far to apply for registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” Disney’s lawsuit said. Disney complained the Sparkling Dreamers logo deliberately evoked the iconic image of Disneyland’s park entrance.
Disney asked the Martins multiple times to withdraw their trademark application, and the couple finally did, the lawsuit said.
The couple “has not only ignored Plaintiffs’ demand to surrender any and all infringing merchandise within its possession,” the lawsuit said, but “has used sales promotions to sell as many infringing products as quickly as possible — including as recently as November 2022.”
It now seems that Disney has gone even further than just the lawsuit. According to a livestream from one of the creators of Sparkling Dreamers — Christopher Martin — he has been banned from Walt Disney World Resort for life.
Martin said that he had taken the bus to Magic Kingdom, but discovered his reservation has disappeared. When he went to Guest services, Cast Members approached him with members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in tow. Martin said that they told him he was banned from Disney World for life because of “Annual Pass violations.” Martin admitted that Disney was suing him, but said that he believed they had trespassed him from the Parks as a form of retaliation.
Martin has documented his lawsuit and battle against the House of Mouse in videos on his TikTok page. He has said that he has every right to make the ears, since mouse ears are not trademarked. Many of his ears do not have Disney-specific fabric, but they are designed to look like certain Disney characters, like Stitch from Lilo & Stitch.
According to Florida Politics, the Martins may have sold hundreds, if not thousands, of products through their Secret Disney Group. That was the group Disney originally caught on to, then the Martins created another group, which Disney also found.
Were being sued by THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY! We have remained quiet, up til now, but we want our voice to be heard! Bloggers, tiktokers & more are not telling the correct story… its time we clear the air on this all. #lawsuit #suedbydisney♬ original sound – Christopher Martin
Martin asked his followers to help in any way they could, possibly asking lawyers they know about the issue and if Disney has the right to ban him. It is important to note that Disney is private property, and they are allowed to make their own rules and ban anyone they wish to for pretty much any reason they want. It’s possible that Martin’s ban could be lifted should the lawsuit be settled.
Martin is supposed to go to Disneyland with his wife, as they are Magic Key Holders, but he does not know if their Magic Keys will be valid. He also stated that he asked Disney if he would get his money back for his Annual Pass, but they would not answer. The contracts that are signed with Disney for Annual Passes and Magic Keys do state that, should you be banned from the Parks, any money spent on tickets or Annual Passes will not be refunded.