Disney has won a copyright infringement case against a Chinese plagiarism of Disney/Pixar’s animated feature “Cars” in a Shanghai court on Thursday. Disney and Pixar are the holders of the copyrights of animated comedies “Cars” and “Cars 2” as well as the character images. The companies filed the lawsuit in June 2016 to sue G-Point in Beijing and Bluemtv in Xiamen, after they found images and posters of the animated movie “The Autobots” resembling those of “Cars” and “Cars 2.”
“The Autobots,” screened in July 2015, was produced by Bluemtv and released by G-Point. Shanghai New Pudong District People’s Court ruled on Thursday that the defendants infringed on the intellectual property rights of Disney/Pixar and caused unfair competition. Therefore, the two companies have to pay 1.35 million yuan (US$194,100) in damages to Disney/Pixar, the court ruled.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers previously complained at the court that images of the main characters in “The Autobots” – “K1” and “K2” – plagiarised the characters “Lightening McQueen” and “Francesco Bernoulli” in “Cars” and “Cars 2.” They also said the Chinese name of the movie bore a high resemblance to the Disney and Pixar movies.
Attorneys for the defendants replied that images of “K1” and “K2” were created independently, based on the appearance of real automobiles. They also argued they had emphasised that “The Autobots” was a domestic movie, so consumers would not be confused by the name.
“The Autobots” director Zhuo Jianrong has been under fire since 2015, when critics dismissed the film as a copycat. Even the English title of the film has been copied from another Hollywood blockbuster franchise “Transformers.” Zhuo fought the accusations and insisted he had never seen the movie “Cars.”
He said his movie was independently produced and the story is completely different. Zhuo also said he would make a sequel but so far has not secured investment as the first installment lost money and attracted criticism and lawsuits. After he lost his case on Thursday, Zhuo stated that he would appeal the verdict.