I’m told that the Walt Disney Co is currently attempting to trademark the character name “Princess Aurora” for all media: stage, sound, film, TV, video, Internet, photographs, news. In short, everything except literature. The name comes from the 1697 Charles Perrault fairy tale and Aurora is the Princess’s daughter (and thus a princess herself). The first use of “Princess Aurora” was in the 1890 Tchaikovsky ballet “The Sleeping Beauty,” which Disney turned into the 1959 animated film. It has been used continuously since then in the ballet as the title character’s name. The problem is that, if the Disney Company is successful, it will effectively control the legal right to all future performances of the ballet. The move also could sink any movie about the ballet or that uses a scene of the ballet in another movie. “This would be like a film studio trademarking the character name “Ebenezer Scrooge” for all media (no one has) and then no one could perform “A Christmas Carol” on a stage, TV, in a film, radio, etc without first securing the right to use the name from the trademark owner,” a critic emails me. Not surprisingly, Disney is also seeking to trademark “Princess Aurora” for products. Therefore, a campaign has emerged to complain to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office if people feel this trademarking of a pre-existing character name should not be allowed.
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