News Column

Disney Won't Trademark Dia de Los Muertos

May 9, 2013

Staff Reports --

Dia de Los Muertos figurines (photo:Tomascastelazo, Creative Commons)
Dia de Los Muertos figurines (photo:Tomascastelazo, Creative Commons)

The Walt Disney Co. has backed down in the face of a public outcry against its bid to trademark "Dia de Los Muertos" for toys, cereal and other licensed products.

The global entertainment company had filed 10 applications to trademark the phrase Dia de Los Muertes with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, ahead of an as-yet untitled movie about the Mexican holiday, known in English as the Day of the Dead, the L.A. Times reported.

The holiday falls on the day after Halloween and is used to remember and celebrate loved ones who have passed on.

"Disney-Pixar is developing an animated feature inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos," a Disney spokesperson said in a statement. "Disney's trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities."

Disney withdrew its trademark bid because "the title of the film will change," the spokesperson said.

However, the website had posted a petition on Tuesday asking Disney to withdraw its filing, drawing 21,277 signatures by Wednesday.

"I am deeply offended and dismayed that a family-oriented company like Walt Disney would seek to own the rights to something that is the rightful heritage of the people of Mexico," Grace Sesma, who posted the petition, said.

The holiday originated in Mexico and traces its roots back to Aztec times. However, the holiday is observed among Hispanics worldwide, and has become ubiquitous in the U.S.

Observations range from holding picnics in graveyards, to building altars decorated with marigolds and sugar skulls, to large-scale parades with elaborate costumes.

The Valence Group of Houston got a trademark in 2007 for "Dia de los Muertos" for theater productions and musicals, the Times reported. The phrase has also been used for movies and TV projects.

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