The 2015 animated film “Inside Out” was a ripoff. At least, that’s the claim of a lawsuit filed against Disney and Pixar on Monday.
In the suit, filed in federal court in California, child-development expert Denise Daniels says that the premise of the 2015 film — described in the suit as “the use of anthropomorphized emotions Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust as individual characters within the head of an 11-year old girl” — was lifted from her own children’s program The Moodsters.
“Disney-Pixar was not the first to conceive of the idea of anthropomorphized, color-coded characters representing single emotions, as depicted in ‘Inside Out,'” the suit reads. “Daniels conceived of — and developed — a children’s program called The Moodsters. The Moodsters live ‘deep down inside every child,’ and featured five main characters. Each character is an animated, anthropomorphized figure representing a single emotion with a corresponding color, and specifically happiness (yellow), anger (red), sadness (blue), fear (green), and love (pink).”
“From 2005 through 2009, and every year in between, Daniels, along with her industry-leading team, approached and pitched Disney-Pixar to partner on a project relating to The Moodsters,” the suit adds.
According to the suit, Daniels conceived of the animated Moodsters project to “expand on her idea of using color-coded illustrations of emotions to help children with their social and emotional development.”
The project “aimed to help children identify, express, and manage their feelings in a healthy and developmentally appropriate way,” according to the complaint.
Daniels and her team shared information with “a number of different individuals” at Disney-Pixar, according to the suit, including then-Walt Disney Company CFO Thomas Staggs, who told Daniels that he had shared Moodsters material with then-Disney Channels Worldwide president Rich Ross.
“Daniels was aware and relied on customs and practices in the entertainment industry when she approached Disney-Pixar about a partnership,” the complaint reads. “Specifically, it is
However, the suit alleges, “Disney-Pixar has used Daniels’s idea as shown in The Moodsters … through the release and sale of ‘Inside Out,’ and the sale of ‘Inside Out’ merchandise” without compensating Daniels.
Alleging breach of implied-in-fact contract, the suit seeks unspecified damages.
In a statement issued Tuesday, a Disney spokesman told TheWrap, “‘Inside Out’ was an original Pixar creation, and we look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.