I am opening a small business making t shirts. I want to use the name of a Disney character on one of my designs as well as an image that is something the character holds in the film. I have hand drawn the item and would like a graphic artist to create it based on my drawing, so not using any of Disney's original work. Is there any legal reason I may not be allowed to do this?

1 Answer 1


Yes, you have named them in the tags: copyright and trademark.

The image you have drawn is a derivative work - only Disney can authorize derivative works.

The name is a Disney trademark - you can use that trademark to refer to and talk about the Disney character. You can't use it in a way that suggests your product has something to do with Disney as you propose.

Oh, and Disney are very diligent in protecting their IP.

  • 1
    Do names have really such protections? For example, I make a T-Shirt with the image of a piece of cheese and I wrote the word "Mickey" underneath and some white gloves similar to the character Mickey Mouse. How can Disney really corollate that to their character? This sounds like what OP is suggesting. Jul 19, 2017 at 1:39
  • Furthermore, what would prevent a likeness of the characters being used in parody or otherwise? Here is an example of this; youtube.com/watch?v=YnEWFGbmBm0 Jul 19, 2017 at 1:41
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    @DigitalFire The name Micky is not a trade mark unless it is used in such a way as to suggest the character Micky Mouse; like being paired with white gloves. By the way, the white gloves are their own registered trade mark.*Anything* that identifies your product in the mind of a consumer is a trade mark (registered or not), for example, Cadbury has a trade mark in the colour purple, Intel has trade mark in the "dong-da-da-da-dum" sound and Nike has trade mark in the "swoosh".
    – Dale M
    Jul 19, 2017 at 2:24
  • @DaleM I'm very interested now in hearing this "dong-da-da-da-dum" by Intel now...
    – Zizouz212
    Jul 19, 2017 at 3:38
  • @Zizouz212 youtube.com/watch?v=-ihRPi4wcBY
    – Dale M
    Jul 19, 2017 at 8:12

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