You know him by sight if not by name, he is Luxo Jr., the official mascot of Pixar Animation Studios. The squisher of the I in Pixar before every film, he and the ‘Luxo Jr. Ball’ are the stars of Pixar’s first animated short over 20 years ago. He has become such an icon, that he is quite literally an icon, looming over Pixar Studios in Emeryville. He has also now become the latest entity on the line of Disney’s Living Character Initiative (LCI), appearing in full animatronic form at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. He’s also the prized collectible in a Pixar boxed Blu-ray set to be released just in time for the holiday season.
And therein lies the problem. Luxo is a a real company and the Luxo Jr. was inspired by John Lasseter’s own lamp. Although his name is really only known by the more diehard of fans, it’s now being used to promote these new incarnations of the studios mascot and there-in lies the problem for Norway-based Luxo AS.
In a complaint filed in New York City (Luxo AS vs. Walt Disney Co., 09-cv-7689), Luxo claims that sales of the Luxo Jr. collectible will ‘confuse customers and “cause devastating damage to Luxo and dilute the goodwill which Luxo has built up” by selling high- quality lamps,’ according to a report from Bloomberg News.
Will this hurt the commercialization of Luxo Jr.? Doubtful, although expect it to set Disney back a few bucks. It seems pretty evident that Luxo (and perhaps rightfully so) is a bit miffed that their own legendary product will be used to make money for someone else, so I’d look forward to either a settlement or a full blown court case that could see some heavy penalties in terms of restitution.