Patent Reveals Disney Had ‘Talking Mickey’ Technology for Almost 20 Years

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Patent drawing for voice transformation used in a theme park characterWhat could be more surprising than walking into a room and having Mickey Mouse talk to you? How about the fact that Disney has been sitting on the technology for well over a decade?

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Report: Miramax to Return to Co-Founders

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the brothers who founded Miramax and later sold it to The Walt Disney Company are about to take the reigns once more. At a reported $600 million, the Hollywood power duo will once again oversee the production and distribution company they named after their parents.

Full story here.

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The Walt Disney Company to Donate $150K to Aid Quake-Affected Schools in China

The Walt Disney Company announced today it will contribute $150,000 to the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) to help rebuild schools devastated by a powerful earthquake in the western Chinese province of Qinghai.

“On behalf of The Walt Disney Company, I extend our deepest condolences to the people of China and hope our contribution can help the children and families affected by this terrible earthquake,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, who announced the donation while visiting Shanghai.

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Spidey’s Slippery Slope: The Kirbys’ Spectacular Case Against Marvel

Just how serious is Disney/Marvel about producing an Ant-Man movie? Few in the world are likely to be more interested than the children of comics author Jack Kirby who have named  Ant-Man along with Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, Thor, Nick Fury a seemingly endless list of comics titles and specific issues in a lawsuit claiming they are the rightful (co-)owners of these creations.

Filed on March 9 in the US District Court in the Central District of California, the complaint filed by Lisa, Barbara, Neal and Susan Kirby as well as the estate of Kirby’s wife, Rosalind, rebquests a trial by jury, seeking unspecified damages against previous and current earnings on these properties of which Disney/Marvel has current control.

Making a very persuasive argument, particularly if it’s all true, the complaint inks a portrait in which a financially strapped Marvel purchased the comics from freelancer Jack Kirby ad hoc — sans contracts and that Kirby created everything on his own time in his own place of residence with his own tools so that he was at no time able to be considered ‘work for hire’ as Disney/Marvel has contended.

(more…)

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Newly Registered Domains Suggest Projects, Keychest Progress, Toy Story Getting CARS Treatment

Another day, another series of domain names being registered by Disney.

The domain name that stands out the most is BILLIONDOLLARFRESHMAN.COM which sounds like it could be an upcoming film either for Walt Disney Studios, DreamWorks or Disney Channel. Replace the B with an M and you have what sounds like could have been a Kurt Russell live action comedy from Disney in the 70s.

For its Keychest technology, Disney has also registered KEYCHESTLAB.COM and KEYCHESTLABS.COM. It is speculated that Disney will be licensing the technology, so this will probably be an opportunity to showcase or sell the technology moreso than a consumer destination.

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Disney Lets Wild Duck Roam Free Amongst University of Oregon Footballers

As we reported last November, the UO Duck (then potentially in some hot water) was operating under license by The Walt Disney Company for his one-time likeness to Donald Duck (and initially enacted by Walt Disney himself). As the UO Duck’s look has changed over the years, it’s fair to say that short of being pantless (which has been enough for Disney alone, just ask Marvel’s Howard the Duck), there is little resemblance to Mickey’s #2.

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Disney Granted US Patent to Help ESPN Keep a Few Electronic Eyes on Athletes

Using a potential combination of RFID and/or ultra-wide band (UWB) technologies, US Patent #,7671,802 provides a method for tracking the on-field locations of athletes and sports equipment (including fast-moving and rapid direction-changing items such as hockey pucks) in real-time.

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ABC News to Ask Hundreds to Resign; May Cut Workforce by About 20%

Weak advertising is forcing ABC News to restructure, as per a report by the LA Times, resulting in a workforce reduction of 20%, or approximately three hundred employees.

The process is expected to begin tomorrow morning in which ABC News will seek volunteers to accept a buyout and leave the organization followed by likely layoffs if not enough volunteer. ABC News employs 1,4000 staffers in all.

Update #1: AOL’s Daily Finance has reprinted today’s memo from ABC President David Westin which you can view here.

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Patent Application for Disney’s ‘Keychest’ Technology Made Public

The US Patent Office has recently published a patent application by Disney Enterprises which appears to be the groundwork for Disney’s announced digital rights management (DRM) technology dubbed ‘Keychest.’

The technology is intended to allow an individual to purchase the right to a movie or a song or book or any other type of protected content and be able to play that same content on any number of multimedia devices with just the single purchase. For example, songs purchased through iTunes are limited not just to iPod/iPhone/iTunes devices, but specific ones. With ‘Keychest’ technology, that song might also be able to be played on a PC using any copy of iTunes (or even another application), on any other mobile device, etc. The same would apply for movies. For example, purchase the latest Disney film on DVD and immediately be able to stream it on your friend’s computer or play it on your cell phone, all at no additional cost.

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Disney to Assume Control of All Disney Store Locations in Japan

It was announced yesterday by The Walt Disney Company Japan that Disney Japan will acquire Retail Networks Co., the company that owns and operates the country’s Disney Store retail locations, from parent company Oriental Land. Talks of the acquisition began last year and the transition is expected to be finalized as of April 1, 2010, the eighth anniversary of RNC. RNC owns and operates 54 Disney Store locations throughout the country, although it’s expected to close six of them by March.

Financial details for the transaction have not yet been announced. Oriental Land is the parent company for the Disney Parks in Japan.

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