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Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 16:15 GMT
Monsters Inc faces 'copying' lawsuit
Monsters Inc
Mike and Sullivan: Monsters Inc's main characters

A lawsuit has been filed against the makers of hit animation film Monsters, Inc by a poster artist, who said the film's two main characters were based on his idea.

Stanley Mouse, whose real name is Stanley Miller, filed his case against Disney Enterprises and Pixar Talking Pictures in the federal court in San Francisco.

He said Monsters, Inc's stars, Mike and Sully, were derived from a one-eyed creature called Wise G'Eye and a larger monster, who often appeared together in his cartoons going back to 1963.


In a way they have stolen my life's work

Stanley Mouse

Court documents state that one-eyed Mike, who was voiced by Billy Crystal, strongly resembles a character drawn by Mouse as part of his ideas for a film called Excuse My Dust.

The artist unsuccessfully tried to sell in Hollywood in 1998.

Monsters, Inc
Monsters, Inc features an array of creatures
Excuse My Dust was set in Monster City, where the animated monsters worked for the Monster Corporation of America.

In the Disney/Pixar version, Mike and Sully live in Monstropolis and work for Monsters, Inc.

Mouse told BBC News Online from his studio in Northern California: "This is about ownership and artistic integrity.

"In a way they have stolen my life's work. I have built this up over my whole life and they have just taken it."

Drawings attached to the complaint, dating from the early 1960s, pair a small, two-legged eyeball with a large, dull-witted monster character in a buddy relationship.

Monsters Inc
Pixar's animation has appealed to children and adults
The lawsuit also claims that a story artist from Pixar visited Mouse in 2000 and discussed Mouse's work with him.

Mouse's lawyer Sandy Troy told BBC News Online that Mouse is one of the foremost poster artists associated with the likes of rock band Grateful Dead.

Mr Troy added that the one-eyed creature has been a recurring character of Mouse's since the early 60s.

Pixar has made no comment about the lawsuit and is referring all enquiries to Disney.

Disney's response was that the characters in Monsters, Inc were "developed independently by the Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures creative teams, and do not infringe on anyone's copyrights".

Monsters, Inc
Monsters, Inc focuses on a young girl called Boo
Mr Troy said he did not have a figure in mind for the lawsuit, but Mr Mouse added: "When I look out of my third eye, I just want a piece of the cheese."

The animated movie, released last year, grossed more than $520m (328m) in box office receipts worldwide and selling 5 million copies on the first day of its recent video and DVD release.

No trial date has yet been set.


A Monsters, Inc special section on BBCiMonster fun
BBCi mini-site on animation film Monsters, Inc
See also:

19 Sep 02 | Entertainment
08 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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05 Nov 01 | Entertainment
19 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
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