From Iceland — Norse Mythology | Marvel Cinematic Universe

Amateur Designer Slapped With Disney Claim Over Nordic God Loki

Published June 25, 2021

Erik Pomrenke
Photo by
Adobe Stock

Twitter user Loki’s Buttslut recently had their work, a shirt featuring the phrase “Low Key Loki,” removed from the website Redbubble following copyright claims from Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Several other users of the site Redbubble, a marketplace for prints, merch, and art have received similar complaints in recent weeks, all concerning the usage of the mythological figure. The shirt was considered to violate Disney’s rights to the Loki brand, as portrayed by Tom Hiddleston in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

Regarding the complaint and subsequent removal, Loki’s Buttslut stated on twitter:
“It’s been up for years and it’s a comic reference, simple text art I made for cosplays. I even made sure the color and font were different But I guess with the success of the show they’re cracking down. I’m gonna appeal it when I’m more awake. If I change the name, maybe.”

The notice was filed on June 17th. As of June 22nd, the decision to remove the product in question was revoked, and the shirt was reinstated on the site.

The copyright dispute is by no means the first in Disney’s history, a company that has historically pursued its intellectual property rights aggressively. Such moves have prompted criticism, as when Disney filed a copyright claim in 2018 for the phrase “Hakuna Matata,” accompanying the release of the Beyoncé remake.

The phrase, which means “no worries,” is also an everyday saying in the Swahili language, and the copyright claim provoked concerns about cultural appropriation and colonialism. However, as the New York Times points out, such intellectual property claims do not prevent public use of such phrases, but instead act to deter competitors from acting in bad faith to deceive consumers. A similar claim was filed in 2013, when Disney moved to claim The Day of the Dead for its Coco movie, a movie which draws heavily on the Mexican holiday.

Disney currently has not registered a copyright in Iceland for the Marvel Loki brand in Iceland.

According to Margrét Hjálmarsdóttir, chief lawyer at Hugverkastofan, some 85% of trademarks registered in Iceland are foreign. She states in Frettablaðið that “trademarks that are intended to be registered must all meet the requirements of the Trademarks Act regarding registration qualifications, and we examine various things, in particular whether the mark has distinctive and distinctive character and whether it overlaps with the rights of others. Registered labels must represent certain products and / or services and must be selected very precisely.”

Furthermore, she states that “similar labels can stand side by side in the trademark register if the products are different […] The exclusive right obtained through registration generally only applies to the products and services for which the mark is registered, it is not in itself universal, so it does not stop all possible use.”

Such incidents are not unprecedented in Iceland’s history. In 2014, the UK based supermarket, Iceland, filed an EU-wide trademark for the name, resulting in a legal dispute that was ultimately overturned in 2019 by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

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