Luxo AS (Luxo), a Norwegian lighting company that designed the desktop lamp that inspired the Pixar logo, has sued Pixar and the Walt Disney Company for trademark infringement.
According to the complaint, Luxo has been creating and manufacturing desk lamps for sale in the United States since 1939. Luxo’s product portfolio includes spring-balanced work lights such as the LUXO L-1 and LS desk lamps, which have sold over 25 million units worldwide. One of the lamps is said to be in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
For many, the ‘trade dress’ of Luxo’s desk light has come to be associated with Pixar’s well-known symbol, which appears at the beginning of all of the company’s films. John Lasseter, Pixar’s founder, is claimed to have said that his Luxo lamp provided the inspiration for the company’s distinctive look. furthermore, two Luxo-inspired lights, a father and son playing with such a ball, appeared in Pixar’s first short, ‘Luxo Jr,’ a two-minute silent cartoon produced in 1986.
Luxo filed a case with such a New York district court on September 3rd, despite what appeared to be a pleasant relationship between the two firms over the years. Luxo claims that Pixar has for the first time infringed on its trademarks (US trademarks 0778106 and 1314484 for the work and typed drawing of the word ‘Luxo’) because the Pixar logo made no express reference to the name ‘Luxo’ and (ii) no actual lamps had been created using the LUXO trademark prior to the launch of the special edition lamps in August 2009.
Luxo is concerned that utilizing the brand ‘Luxo’ will lead customers to believe that the Disney lamps are made by (or otherwise associated with) Luxo. The Disney lights, according to the company, are of far lower quality than their own, and hence their dispersion is likely to cause injury. Customers will believe that Luxo is either infringing on Pixar’s trademark or is a Pixar licensee, according to the lawsuit, because of Pixar’s ‘near full expropriation’ of the LUXO trademark.
Luxo is requesting a court order prohibiting Pixar from manufacturing and distributing any lamp or other product bearing the Luxo trademark, as well as a monetary award based on Pixar’s profits from infringing lighting. It will be interesting to see how the US court views Luxo’s allowing, or at least tolerating, Pixar’s 20-year use of the animated Luxo-inspired light in its emblem then under the name.
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