Hey, Intellectual Property Law Students: Here's the Kind of Stuff You'll Have to Write


Plaintiffs' attorney Al Waltkins with "Santa Paws"
  • Plaintiffs' attorney Al Waltkins with "Santa Paws"
Some of you law-schoolers will graduate with crushing debt and zero job prospects, but  the luckier amongst you will find jobs -- possibly in the hot field of intellectual property (or "IP") law, where you can look forward to stuff like depressingly close readings of Disney Christmas movies that went straight to DVD.

Take for example the lawsuit brought by three St. Louisans claiming their story of "Santa Paws" was stolen by Disney and made into feature films.

IP students can glimpse their future in the recent filing by Disney lawyers, who want the complaint dismissed because they believe the St. Louisan "Santa Paws" and their own "Santa Paws" are "not substantially similar in protected expression": 

.....The "magic icicles" function completely differently in the works. In Plaintiffs' story, Evila uses her magic icicle as an instrument of evil, in the way that an evil wizard would use his wand. Its function appears limited to shooting out streams of liquid ice so Evila can freeze her foes. In [Disney's] films, the crystals worn around Santa's neck and on the dogs' collars, as well as the gigantic icicle hanging from the ceiling of the ice cave, are instruments of good. They are repositories for the Christmas spirit, absorbing and then releasing powerful positive energy at various points in the films.
Disney insists the two works differ in plot, characters, setting, theme -- even mood:
Plaintiffs' work is dominated by Evila the witch.... [whose] presence gives much of the story a sinister tone. By contrast, the tone of the majority of [Disney's] First Picture is by turns lighthearted and sentimental.
Whaaat? Disney lighthearted and sentimental? Sacre bleu!

Of course, the plaintiffs' lawyer, Al Watkins, begs to differ, maintaining in a response filing that whether your vantage point is "Santa's airborne sleigh" or a "worm's-eye view," the works still resemble each other.

He also can't resist a little commentary on Disney's interpretation of its own film:
[Disney] assert[s] that The First Picture "emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for the happiness of others". Plaintiffs' counsel must confess that Plaintiffs believe that to be a poor and dangerous theme to send to any audience, let alone an impressionable audience.
Nor can he resist this yuletide reference:
Not since George Seaton's 1947 Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street, has a court been called upon to address the integrity of the holiday spirit employing the eyes of the beholder.