Question for those of you who got married at Disneyland/world

Were you allowed to use Disney images on your gift items?

I own a promotional products (“swag”) company, and a client/friend of mine is getting married at Disneyworld. I’m providing her things for the gift bags (sunglasses, sunscreen, bottled water, etc.), and she’s wondering if she can put the silhouette of mouse ears along with her and her fiance’s name and wedding date on them.

Obviously Disney protects their property stringently, and obviously we’re going to reach out to them, but has anyone had any experience with this? These are for giveaways; it’s not like she’s trying to sell Disney merchandise right under their little mouse nose. And we’re just talking the round black ears, not Mickey’s likeness and not the Disney font.

Anyone have any firsthand experience with this?

I’ve had a couple experiences with companies other than Disney. Based on those, I’m going to speculate that (a) you would indeed be violating one of their trademarks without first obtaining their permission and (b) you’re unlikely to get anywhere talking with them about it. IME, it’s almost impossible to find the right person in a big corporation who can grant permission, and, if you do, they will be scared witless at letting the camel’s nose into the tent. The lawyers are great at issuing cease and desist letters, but not very good at saying, “Oh, what the heck! Here’s a letter giving you permission to use one of our thousands of trademarked graphics.”

This is probably not a factual answer and so we might be on the wrong board.

Since the OP is asking for personal experiences, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

I have zero experience that you asked for, and zero knowledge of copyright laws…but here’s a suggestion:
Make it personal. Could you use an old photo of the bride or groom when they were young children, wearing the trademarked mouse ears?
In my family photo album, I am the star cutie in a 50-year-old, black-and white photo of several children. I’m the one wearing Mickey ears.

If you copy a personal photo like that, and use it only for personal use at your own wedding, would it still be copyright infringement?

This can’t be the first time this has come up. Disney probably even has items with the mouse that they will personalize for you. (Though it will probably be pricey.)

They have a website for weddings. You at least ask the question.

No firsthand experience, but Disney absolutely considers the round ears a valuable trademark. They fold the towels in the hotel rooms in such a way as to suggest those ears, and they even hide images of them throughout the park.

That said, though, it’s not as if some Disney employee is going to search your gift bags. Most likely they will never see these things and if they do, they may not realize there is a trademark violation. As suggested above, they’re really unlikely to grant explicit permission, so one option is to ignore the requirement to seek permission.

If you don’t ask, and make the gifts, what can they do after the event? From what I have seen they issue a ‘cease and desist’ order with a threat of further action if you don’t comply. Since you have no intention of making any more, that will be easy.

If you go on and type in “mouse ears shirt” there’s 190 pages of results, all with Mickey ears and some with Disney font. And that’s just shirts!

If those people can get away with posting their mouse-ears-adorned shirts online for sale, on a popular Web site, I think you are OK with your gift bag items.

In what way are they getting married there? Is it on property and on one of the hotels? or just near the area but not actually ON the property?

Mrs. Cups and I got married at a hotel on the Universal Studios property, who provided a coordinator for us. Through her is where we planned everything and she was the only person of note from Universal to actually BE at our wedding. We didn’t use any Universal anything for our giftbags (unless you count drawing Minion eyes on bananas), but I’m also about 99% sure she never even looked or cared to find out if we did.

If they’re getting married within Disney, or at an affiliated property, I would assume they have a Disney-provided coordinator who could answer that question for you. Based on having been married at Universal, and my knowledge of branding and marketing, I would bet that if they’re getting married on property and the money is going to Disney anyway, they probably don’t care about using their brands because they’re officially sanctioning the wedding anyway. If it’s not actually recognized by Disney that they’re being married there (Ha, talking about them like they’re a church!) then you might run into problems, but I would still bet you can do it and it won’t matter.

I can’t imagine that Disney would prevent the use of their copyright for a small wedding with no profits being made.