Disney Wins “Zootopia” Copyright Lawsuit Dismissal
Recently, one of Disney’s popular animated films, Zootopia, came under fire when a copyright complaint was filed by Esplanade Productions on behalf of one Gary L. Goldman. The plaintiff alleged that Zootopia, which grossed over $1 billion in sales, was based on the previous work of Goldman and on ideas that had been pitched to Disney in the past. Goldman, of Total Recall and Minority Report fame, stated that he had brought up his ideas on several occasions while consulting on another film with Disney, and that he felt as though Zootopia was far too similar to his work than could be purely coincidental.
Unfortunately for Goldman’s case, however, a California federal judge ruled that there was not enough provided evidence or sufficient similarity between the two productions to be considered a copyright infringement. Additionally, since Esplanade failed to include Goldman’s materials to be reviewed, the judge deemed he had no choice but to side with the defendant, especially after Disney complained about this lack of provided evidence.
Now, both parties are urging the legal system to determine whether the products are even similar enough to merit a case. However, despite the consistent prompting by both the plaintiff and defendant, progress was at a stalemate due to the lack of provided evidence. According to Judge Michael Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court, the Court was not able to effectively analyze the materials as Esplanade failed to provide or describe the alleged copied materials in any amount of detail that would be required for successful analysis.
However, despite the fact that this was the case, the judge attempted an analysis himself, focusing on the provided plots of both works. The argument offered by the plaintiff is that the characters and plot were both quite similar. Each plot includes a predator and prey and an optimist and a pessimist, but the judge argues that this type of duo exists in any number of cop genre films, including but not limited to Rush Hour, Men in Black, The Heat, etc. It’s become a cliche for a reason.
When looking at the characters, the differences are more prominent than the similarities in terms of the types of animals and the form of animation. While Zootopia featured a fox, Goldman’s work (named “Looney”) featured a hyena, and so on and so forth. All of Zootopia’s animals were clothed while Goldman’s characters were your more traditionally unclothed animals. Additionally, the animation could have not have been more different. While the Zootopia animation stays very true to the Disney aesthetic with bright colors and vibrant appeal, the “Looney” characters were darker and more sombre in appearance. In essence, a very different “feel”. All in all, there was little evidence to suggest that Zootopia had been based on Goldman’s work; at least, this is what was determined by the judge for now.
After reviewing all of the evidence, Judge Michael Fitzgerald determined that there was not enough similarity between Zootopia and “Looney”, or the works of Gary L. Goldman. Therefore, Fitzgerald determined that Disney’s motion to dismiss the case be acknowledged and accepted. While this is most certainly a win for Disney, it may be just a temporary one. Fitzgerald did instate the ability to amend in the event that new evidence was presented, so the case may be far from over.
What are Business Mergers and What Can We Expect?
When two businesses decide to combine into a single entity, it is called a merger. The parties can be companies, LLCs or any other type of business. The firms that merge may continue to do business under their original names or a new name, but they cease to exist as separate entities.
Horizontal and Vertical Mergers
A business merger can be horizontal or vertical. In a horizontal merger, the firms occupy similar positions within the same industry. For example, a horizontal merger would occur if one car manufacturer acquired another car manufacturing company. In a vertical merger, one company acquires a firm within the same industry, but which has a different role. For instance, joining with a supplier or customer is a vertical merger.
Mergers, particularly horizontal mergers, often reduce competition. For this reason, they are regulated under federal antitrust laws. A merger between similar firms may require government approval before it can proceed.
Impact of Mergers on Stock
A key concern for investor is the effect a merger has on shares of stock. In an all-stock merger, shares of one the target firm are swapped for shares of the acquiring company in an specified proportion. For instance, if Company A buys Company B, three shares of Company B stock are exchanged for one share of Company A stock. In an all-cash merger, the outstanding shares of the target firm are purchased for cash at a specific price. Some mergers involve a combination of cash payment and exchange of shares.
The effect of a merger on the stock price will vary, depending on how the market reacts to the merger. After an all-stock merger, the price might fall if shareholders are concerned about dilution of the voting power of their shares. Another example of the impact of a merger occurs when a cash offer is made for shares at a premium price. The shares of the target company will go up to match the price the acquiring firm has offered.
Impact of Mergers on Employees
Mergers often create anxiety among employees. Layoffs are a possibility, especially when duplicate functions such as accounting departments may be eliminated. On the other hand, if a merger is carried out to promote growth, it may mean more jobs and greater opportunities for employees. Executives of a target firm may receive guarantees and incentives if they agree to the merger. In order to minimize confusion, some firms make a special effort to keep employees informed about the merger process. Good communication and transparency to help maintain employee morale and confidence.
Companies choose to merge with one another for a variety of reasons. A firm may want to increase its access to markets or block a competitor. Mergers can also offer opportunities for greater efficiency stemming from economies of scale and consolidation of overlapping functions. A businessperson may seek to sell his company to another firm because businesses can often pay more than individual firms. Young firms often seek a merger partner to provide capital for growth and access to larger markets.