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Disney Sues Makers of The Autobots for Copyright Infringement

Written by Fozia Cheychi on 23 June 2016

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Disney claims that the contentious movie which was screened last July is a close resemblance of Disney’s hit movie ‘Cars’. The producers of the movie Bluemtv in Xiamen of East China’s Fujian Province, G-Point in Beijing- the company that released the movie and PPTV- in Shanghai- an online platform company that showed the movie on their website have all been named in a lawsuit.

Cars is a 2006 animated film that was produced by Pixar Animation Studios and was released by Walt Disney Pictures. Its sequel Cars 2 was released five years later. Cars is an award winning movie and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

In a lawsuit filed at the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s court, Disney said that the Chinese animation “The Autobots” copied elements from the Disney movie.

At a court hearing earlier this week, legal representatives for Disney argued that the images of the main characters in The Autobots namely K1 and K2 are copies of the characters Lightening McQueen and Francesco Bernoulli in the movies Cars and Cars2. It was also alleged that the Chinese name of the movie is a close resemblance to the Disney movies. Disney is seeking an immediate stop to the distribution of the movie and compensation of 4 million yuan (US $607,000).

Lawyers for the defendants argued that the characters of K1 and K2 were created independently, based on the images of real automobiles. It was further argued that they had emphasised that The Autobots was a domestic movie and hence consumers would not be confused by the name. Further it was stated that the film was not successful and the filmmakers did not profit.

In an earlier interview with CNN, Zhuo Jianlong the director of “The Autobots” for production company Blue MTV, claimed to have never seen the Disney movie Cars. He added that the main storyline of his movie was “completely different from Disney’s, and that their goal was to teach children about thinking and innovation”.

In a further interview with Reuters, Jianlong stated that he was “relaxed” about a potential ruling. He stated “Lots of people online have talked about plagiarism, but it seems from the legal side that the matter is quite clear- at root there is no plagiaristic behaviour”. He added “if you put the two films side by side to compare them, then you will know they are completely different.”

Disney has declined to comment on the case.

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