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Walt Disney Co. is known in the industry for initiating litigation against organizations of any kind that misuse Disney’s trademarks and brands including any of the Disney animated characters. Disney does not want the value of Mickey Mouse, for example, to be diminished by it being used without permission in a mural. Disney may come across as heartless in some instances, but at the heart of the matter is the protection of their intellectual property. Therefore, it was amazing to see Disney involved in a major lawsuit involving the alleged infringement of another company’s copyright. In May 2000, Disney agreed to pay GoTo.com $21.5 million in order to settle the matter. GoTo.com’s logo was its name spelled in white on a green circle atop a yellow rectangle. Disney’s Go.com used a logo with the word “Go” written in white letters on a green traffic light inside a square yellow case. Not only were the names similar, but also the logos were similar. Disney has revamped the Go.com Web site, eliminating sections with plans of selling some of the Go.com assets. What remains is a portal that directs users to other Disney-owned Web sites like ABC.com, ESPN.com and Disney.com. Searches previously performed by Disney’s Infoseek search engine are now being directed to GoTo.com. The old logo has been replaced with a new logo that shows a blue-gray stylized Go.com inside a yellow ring. The logo ties in vaguely with the logos on the other Disney Web sites. The new site allows Disney to capitalize on its content and allow users to become familiar with its other Web sites. With the copyright infringement problems resolved and now the changes, and perhaps eventual elimination, of Go.com, the positioning of the other Disney properties is very important. When Disney created Go.com and brought the other Web sites under the wings of Go.com, those other Disney Web sites did not tout their relationship with Go.com. For example, ABC News has always stated that their Web site was located at ABCnews.com, although the real address is ABCnews.go.com. Did they see the handwriting on the wall telling them that Go.com might be in conflict with GoTo.com? Did they question Disney’s long-term commitment to Go.com? Did they see the benefit in establishing and maintaining their own identity with their own domain names? Whatever their reasons, they made a smart move. Although tied to Go.com, they must now ensure that their individual brands remain strong in order to survive this change to Go.com and whatever changes occur in the future. As for Disney, it is doubtful that the lawsuit with GoTo.com will make them more understanding of those who innocently infringe on its brands and trademarks. But undoubtedly the company will be more vigilant of new brands and trademarks that it establishes so that it does not get caught in this embarrassing situation again.

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