The DNC’s new mascot may infringe on a Disney trademark

| Aug 19, 2016 | Trademark Law

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has created a mascot to taunt Donald Trump about not disclosing his tax returns. The character, called “Donald Ducks,” looks similar to the Walt Disney character Donald Duck, but with blonde hair similar to Mr. Trump’s. The mascot holds a sign that reads, “Donald Ducks Releasing His Tax Returns.”

While many see it as a clever way to challenge the GOP presidential candidate’s decision to “duck” from granting access to his tax information, it may also be an example of trademark infringement.

Although slightly altered, the DNC’s Donald Ducks mascot still retains most of the characteristics of Donald Duck. This could result in future trademark protection issues for the DNC, who has not indicated whether they obtained permission from Walt Disney Company. Given the political nature of the DNC’s character, it is doubtful that such a large company would want to be seen as endorsing one candidate over the other.

The Walt Disney Company has a history of vigilantly protecting their trademarks and copyrights. They have gone after violations no matter how large or small, from the Academy Awards to a local daycare center. This isn’t the first Disney infringement in the political arena either. Two years ago, the likeness of Pinocchio was used in an ad for the Maryland gubernatorial race, and the Walt Disney Company ordered it to be taken down.

Donald Ducks has been sighted outside of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan, and the DNC plans to have the character follow Mr. Trump along his campaign trail. Unfortunately, these plans may result in an unplanned and costly lawsuit for the DNC.