DC Comics, Disney and Sanrio sue party company over costumes

DC Comics, Disney and Sanrio have sued a California birthday party entertainment company for copyright and trademark infringement, alleging that it's using counterfeit costumes of such well-known characters as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Superman, Wonder Woman and Hello Kitty.

Law 360 reports that the lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses Party Animals and owner Jason Lancaster of using and renting costumes resembling the companies' characters and logos for birthday and corporate parties, in violation of copyright and trademark laws.

“[Party Animals] is actively selling, offering for sale, renting, distributing or manufacturing unlicensed and counterfeit costumes, which incorporate unauthorized likenesses of the animated or live action characters or other logos owned by plaintiffs,” the complaint said. “[The] defendants have never been authorized by the plaintiffs to distribute the plaintiffs' copyrighted properties.”

The Party Animals website includes a disclaimer that states, "Look-a-like Characters are not officially licensed. We DO NOT USE OR HAVE COPYRIGHTED OR LICENSED MATERIAL, COSTUMES, OR NAMES. We also aren’t affiliated with any companies that hold copyrights so don’t ask for characters relating to copyrighted names." The company's "Look A Like Characters" list includes entries for "Green Superhero" and "Spider-Hero," while a photo page includes thumbnail shots of people dressed as Captain America, the Joker, Buzz Lightyear, Robin, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Supergirl, among many others.

DC, Disney and Sanrio claim use of the allegedly infringing costumes “will cause irreparable injury” if allowed to persist. They seek $150,000 for each infringing copyright and $200,000 for each infringing trademark -- increased to $2 million if the court determines the infringement is deliberate.

Note: The article has been edited to correct the name of the defendant's company, which was misstated in the original lawsuit.

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