After Outcry, Disney Withdraws Effort To Trademark 'Dia De Los Muertos'
May 07, 2013

A tongue-in-cheek cartoon was an example of the online response to Disney's trademark applications. Image courtesy of Lalo Alcaraz/
The Walt Disney Company told Fronteras Desk it will withdraw trademark applications related to the Day of the Dead holiday. Disney made the decision late Tuesday after an avalanche of social media backlash.

The story went viral Tuesday morning: Disney files to trademark the phrase "Día de los Muertos." That's the Spanish name for the annual Mexican tradition of honoring deceased family members and friends.

The trademark request was related to an upcoming Disney-Pixar film inspired by the holiday.

The news did not go over well. Grace Alvarez Sesma is a traditional Mexican healer who lives in Colorado.

"We don't need The Walt Disney Company to help us to promote our own culture," she said.

Alvarez Sesma started an online petition against Disney. Hours later it had more than 14,000 supporters.

Twitter and Facebook exploded with posts like 'Our culture is not for sale' and 'Keep your corporate hands off.'

By late afternoon Disney released a statement saying it would withdraw its "Día de los Muertos" trademark applications.

Gustavo Arellano, author of the syndicated column "Ask a Mexican," said, "The Latino market is such that already there were calls for protest, boycotts and all that and Disney knows better than to poke at the so-called 'sleeping giant.'"

The term "sleeping giant" was often used during the 2012 presidential election to describe the Latino voter bloc, credited with delivering President Barack Obama a victory.

Disney's official statement said the company will withdraw the trademark filing because they've determined the title of the Mexican-inspired film will change. A spokesperson declined further comment.