Lawsuit against Disney and Marvel claims design feature in the packaging of the box set of such titles as "Iron Man" and "Avengers" infringes on luggage design
Marvel Studios has delayed the release of a robust box set of its latest films including 'The Avengers" due to a trademark claim filed Aug. 1 against parent company Disney.
Marvel and Disney had been planning to release "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One — Avengers Assembled Collection," a box set ranging from the first “Iron Man” through “The Avengers” — a grouping that also includes the “Iron Man” sequels, “Thor” and “Captain America.”
Rimowa GmbH, a German luggage manufacturer, is accusing Disney and Marvel of stealing a design feature in the packaging of the box set.
Marvel has since delayed the release of the set from Sept. 25 to next spring, a studio spokeswoman confirmed. The standalone release of “The Avengers” on DVD and Blu-Ray remains set for Sept. 25.
TheWrap has obtained the note Marvel sent to customers, which reads as follows:
"We are sorry to inform you that there will be a delay in the availability of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled Collection. Originally, the Collection was to be available on September 25, 2012, but unfortunately we are now unable to make that date. We are currently working with Marvel to identify the exact date when the Collection will be available, but we expect it to be during Spring, 2013. The Collection will come in a new briefcase and include even more than the content and features that were first advertised. We know that you are disappointed in this delay, and we are working hard to get your Collection to you as soon as possible. We will have an updated announcement for you in the coming weeks which will include actual timing and final details about the Collection. Once again, we apologize for the delay and hope that when you do receive the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled Collection, you will enjoy it as much as Marvel enjoyed creating it."
The briefcase reference is key, as it acknowledges what is at dispute in the legal proceeding. Samuel L. Jackson’s character Nick Fury used a Rimowa briefcase in “The Avengers,” but Marvel has also used a miniature version of briefcase to house the box set, and it also appears in advertising for the set.
"Images of the replica briefcase on Marvel's advertising materials, and fan video from Marvel's product display at this year's Comic-Con convention, show the plastic 'replica case' to be a close copy of Rimowa's Topas attache case in every respect but quality," a lawsuit filed Aug. 9 in the U.S. District Court of Central California alleges.
Rimowa has said Marvel does not have the right to use replicas of the briefcase and seeks compensatory damages.
Rimowa argues that all of its cases “have a singular design feature: parallel, evenly-spaced horizontal bands that run across and around each of the cases.”
The design element is “highly distinctive” and has a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In manufacturing and marketing the box set, as well as using it in a Nick Fury figurine, Marvel has infringed upon and diluted Rimowa’s trademark, according to the German company.
It appears Disney and Marvel do not want to fight this one, choosing to redesign the packaging instead.