The box office for summer movies may be down compared to past years, but major movie studios are banking on a number of holiday offerings to bolster their balance sheets. Disney is especially bullish on its prospects, with a number of live action remakes of its classic animated tales slated to make it to the big screen.
The future movies are not without controversy though. Disney is being sued over ownership rights to facial recognition technology called MOVA Contour, which is the foundation of a number of animated characters.
According to a lawstreetmedia.com report, actors’ faces are airbrushed with a special paint only visible under a black light. Rapid light strobes are then used to allow a camera to capture an actor’s facial movements that will eventually serve as the foundation for a computer animated character. Disney reportedly used the technology in several movies, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Rearden Mova LLC, the purported owner of the technology, claims that Disney stole the technology, made derivative works and illegally “reproduced distributed and performed” works in violation of Rearden’s intellectual property rights.
The lawsuit against Disney stems from another ongoing dispute between Rearden and separate Chinese technology company over whether the MOVA technology was ever able to be sold. Rearden claims that a company associate developed the technology while in the course of Rearden’s employ. When Rearden was unsuccessful in establishing a commercial launch, the associate then sold the technology to the Chinese company, prompting the separate lawsuit.
Indeed, the facts of the two cases are complicated, to say the least. But they exemplify the need to have experienced intellectual property litigators when ownership issues arise.