The Walt Disney Co, creator of Mickey Mouse, is asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to refuse a trademark by electronic music star Deadmau5, who wears a LED-light powered, big-eared mouse helmet during concerts.
Deadmau5, pronounced "dead mouse," is the stage name for Joel Zimmerman, a Canadian disc jockey who has been nominated for and performed at the Grammy Awards.
Zimmerman filed an application in 2013 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register his wide-smiling mouse symbol. In an opposition filing on Tuesday, Disney said the company would be damaged if he succeeds.
"Lawyer up, Mickey," Zimmerman, 33, told his 3 million Twitter followers. "Disney thinks you might confuse an established electronic musician/performer with a cartoon mouse. That's how stupid they think you are."
Disney representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
In 2010 Zimmerman trademarked a different mouse head symbol, with the face at a slight angle, and earlier this month applied for a trademark over yet another, this one with X's over the eyes.
In its opposition this week, Disney presented the trademark office with a side-by-side comparison with its own three-circle mouse ears logo, saying Zimmerman's was likely to cause confusion and damage its brand.
Disney emphasized the popularity of Mickey, whose image it has used in films, music and cartoons and on clothing since 1928.
"Mickey Mouse is recognized as among the greatest animated characters of all time," the company said.
Zimmerman's lawyer Dina LaPolt said in a statement: "Our client will not be bullied by Disney and is prepared to fight to protect his rights to his property."
She added in an emailed statement, "(W)e wonder why Disney is only now coming after deadmau5," given the Deadmau5 symbol had been registered in 30 countries and had been used for a decade.
(Reporting By Andrew Chung; Editing by Ted Botha and Gunna Dickson)