UPDATE: A Disney studio spokesperson told Fronteras Desk late Tuesday afternoon the company will be withdrawing its trademark filing.
“As we have previously announced, Disney-Pixar is developing an animated feature inspired by the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos. Disney’s trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities. It has since been determined that the title of the film will change and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing.”
As first reported by Stich Kingdom, on May 1, Disney Enterprises, Inc., a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, filed trademark applications to secure the phrase "Dia de los Muertos" across multiple platforms for an upcoming Pixar film.
Dia de Los Muertos is a popular holiday celebrated across Latin America, especially in Mexico and Central America, and it has become more popular in the United States. Families commemorate the lives of lost family members or friends between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 each year.
Disney filed 10 requests in the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office this month to coin the phrase. Disney's filings are mainly for merchandise, presumably connected to an upcoming film.
The areas they are hoping to secure include “education and entertainment services,” “fruit preserves; fruit-based snack foods,” “toys, games and playthings,” “clothing,” “footwear,” “backpacks,” “clocks and jewelry” and more.
Rod Berman, a patent attorney in California, says Disney is filing to protect products, not steal a holiday.
"Even if Disney were to obtain trademark registration, that wouldn't prevent anyone from practicing their faith or having the holiday," Berman said.
In the past, Disney sought to trademark "SEAL Team Six" the Navy SEAL team that assassinated Osama Bin Laden. They wanted exclusive rights ranging from toys to snow globes. After outcry from critics, The Wall Street Journal reported Disney withdrew the application "out of deference to the Navy."
Many reacted angrily to the "Dia de los Muertos" news on social media, with some accusing Disney of trying to profit from a sacred Mexican tradition. Disney has not yet responded.
Do you think mass-marketed items tied to a holiday promote understanding and acceptance across cultures? Or does it profit from some people's religious traditions?
A Houston company listed as The Valence Group already holds a 2007 trademark for "Día de los Muertos" for entertainment services like theater, plays and musicals. A gaming company in Nevada holds a 2012 trademark for "Día de Muertos."
The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office has issued trademarks related to other holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah.