Deadmau5 May Be Illegally Dancing with Mickey Mouse’s Ears
In his 2012 Rolling Stone cover story, Canadian house music producer Deadmau5 (née Joel David Zimmerman) discussed the similarities between his popular headdress and Mickey Mouse’s head. At the time, intellectual property lawyers at Disney didn’t pay much heed to these comments.
The award winning DJ gained his nickname from a childhood incident that involved his computer experiencing technical difficulties caused by a dead mouse inside the monitor. Thereafter, his friends knew him as the “dead mouse guy.” When the username “DeadMouse” was too long for online chat rooms, he shortened it to Deadmau5.
Zimmerman created the original “mau5head” logo while using some 3D modeling software on his computer. At the suggestion of a friend, he began wearing the signature headdress while performing at electronic music events around the world. It was not until 2013 when Zimmerman’s Ronica Holdings Limited tried to trademark “a caricature of a mouse head with black ears, black face, white eyes and white mouth.”
The registration would cover classes including “electrical and scientific apparatus, vehicles (specifically BMX bikes), paper goods, leather goods, toys and sporting goods, staple foods (like coffee), light beverages and entertainment services.”
Now the Walt Disney Company is investigating whether the DJ’s logo is too similar to its iconic Mickey Mouse mark. Disney could argue that the trademark is “misleading,” and that it “will confuse the source of goods and services” for consumers. It has 90 days to file a notice of opposition with the U.S.P.T.O.
Given that Mickey Mouse has long been the most identifiable character in the Disney family, it is likely the company will aggressively protect its trademark. Stay tuned to the IP Brief to find out if Deadmau5 will continue dancing with Mickey’s ears on his head.