Do you spot the copyright infringement? A Disney Pixar legal fight is brewing

Are you able to spot a copyright infringement? Often I receive calls from persons and businesses with claims involving infringement by another person or business. During these calls, we discuss fact-based points involved in the developing legal matter before them. Upon meeting, I take a closer look at the works allegedly infringed on and subsequently provide legal counseling and enforcement strategies.

Cars and Autobots

So what does copyright infringement look like? It looks a little something like this story.   Zhuo Jianrong, director of an independent movie and executive director of a film production company states that he has never seen the Disney Pixar film, Cars, upon producing his work, Autobots.  See the Autobots movie poster on the left (image). Zhuo said that his company received legal letters from the Disney Company, which owns Pixar. Disney declined to comment on whether it had sent the letters.  He added that his production company has responded with evidence that “The Autobots” isn’t a copycat.

If this is the first time you view the Autobots and Cars movie posters side-by-side?  Would you be confused by the similarities in drawings alone?  If so, a good suspicion of infringements exists. The next step is to prove it.


Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works.

Anyone who exploits any of the exclusive rights of copyright without the copyright owner’s permission commits copyright infringement. If a lawsuit is brought in a court, the infringer will have to pay the copyright owner the amount of money the infringer made from using the work or that the owner would have made if the infringement had not happened.

Proving Infringement

In order for a court to determine that a copyright in a work has been infringed upon it must find that: (1) the infringing work is “substantially similar” to the copyrighted work, and (2) the alleged infringer had access to the copyrighted work — meaning they actually saw it or heard it. There are no clear rules for deciding when “substantial similarity” exists between two works. Courts look for similarities in appearance, sound, words, format, layout, sequence, and other elements of the works.

Let’s follow this story to learn the destiny of the Autobots film.