Word came Monday that a Canadian oil company had made free use of the Pixar brand in dubbing its new division, Pixar Petroleum, Ltd. Disney, owner of all Pixar trademarks, stated this week "we intend to take the appropriate legal action."
The oil company apparently has a slew of Hollywood themed divisions and partners, including Paramount, Fox, Summit and MGM. Paramount Pictures is also now said to be exploring its legal options
The two companies' stance on the oil industry could not be more opposite, with Pixar chief John Lasseter having been very outspoken in his support of alternative fuel over big oil. In fact, Cars 2, their latest flick written and directed by Lasseter himself, villainizes big oil in its competition against alternative fuels.
While it's reassuring to hear that Disney is aggressively pursuing its rights, I can't help but doubt that they can lay any justifiable claim against the oil company, as a trademark is generally enforcable only within the immediate circle of its industry. Animated movies to oil is a bit of a stretch. Disney may have some grounds, however, if they can show that their brand will be impacted for the worse, which in a controversial industry like oil could be a viable argument.