“I’m being sued by Disney!”
It is perhaps well known in one sense or another that The Walt Disney Company is very protective over its characters and other intellectual property (IP). And for better or worse, fans who have taken their independent expression of their fandom to a certain point have been introduced to their favorite company’s legal team–especially when lost profit is involved. In one a recent case, that superfan is Nine Five Garage–owner of the Instagram and TikTok famous Lightning McQueen-themed Subaru BRZ.
Over the past few years, Lightning McBRZ and its Cars-themed identity have gained popularity across social media, and the owner has become known for using his car for charity efforts–primarily for doing unofficial “Meet ‘n Greets” at the homes of kids. We at Disney Fanatic shared a previous story where he uploaded a TikTok video of him being pulled over by the cops on his way to visit a kid battling cancer.
But now, it appears his luck has gotten even worse.
While the did not provide specifics, he said that Disney that his vehicle too closely resembled their IP. He most likely received what is known as a “cease and desist” letter. The first step in most legal proceedings, the plaintiffs will give the defendant a chance to stop doing whatever is upsetting them–in this case, passing his car off as Lightning McQueen. Cease what you are doing, and we will seek no further legal action against you.
@ninefivegarage acknowledged that his social media presence had exceeded his own expectations, and he will be consulting a lawyer on how to proceed further. In his latest video, he told all of his followers to donate any legal funds they may want to throw his way to the charity of their choice, as he said it has never been about the money.
While it could be argued that this TikTok user is not making substantial amounts of money via direct transactions involving the Lightning McQueen lookalike, there is very little room for doubt that @ninefivegarage would not have a TikTok following of 1.2 million people if it were not for the Disney/Pixar association.
Only time will tell if concessions can be made for Lightning McBRZ to get Disney’s full blessing.