An artist based in San Francisco by the name of Sweet Cicely Daniher is suing the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Pixar Animation Studios and Onward producer Kori Rae for creating an animated version of her unicorn van without permission. Onward is a new animated film by Disney and Pixar, that is slated to release in March 2020.
Reported first on Hollywood Reporter, the article said that unicorns have been a "central theme and subject matter" of Daniher's work. She also owns a dark blue and/or purple 1972 Chevrolet G10 van, with an outer space background, flashes of lightning and a flying unicorn since January 2014, and has posted several pictures of the van on Instagram.
This "vanicorn" as she calls it, looks similar to the animated van called "Guinevere" in Onward.
In a court filing, Daniher said that Pixar had contacted her previously to loan her "vanicorn" for a one day event for its employees, and will only be used as a "show piece". The event was a one day music festival/activity day for Pixar employees held on 14 September 2018.
Shortly after that, in May 2019, she noticed that the Onward film in the making featured a dark blue and/or purple 1972 Chevrolet G10 van, with a unicorn mural on its side. However, three days later, on 3 June 2019, Onward producer Kori Rae telephoned Daniher to apologise for the theft of the Vanicorn for its use as the "Guinevere" character in Onward. According to the court filing, during the course of the phone call, producer Rae admitted to Daniher that the Pixar team "intentionally" did not inform her about using "vanicorn" as the "Guinevere" character.
The court document said that the defendants (Disney, Pixar and Rae) have intentionally and unlawfully used and reproduced the plaintiff’s (Daniher) "vanicorn", and/or are about to do so, infringing upon her copyright. In doing so, the defendants have and/or will be using their infringing motion picture and/or advertisements and promotional and merchandising materials, adding to the public popularity of their own products. This, according to the court, will thereby infringe upon plaintiff’s copyright.
On 4 June 2019, Daniher posted on her personal Instagram page that the Onward producer (Rae) called her to apologise, and that the van was rented without disclosing full intentions, or plans. Daniher also said in her caption that Disney and Pixar tried to "smooth things" over with a phone call, instead of putting their art department to work. Marketing has reached out to Disney and Pixar for comment.
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Well, SHIT! The producer of “Onward” just called me. She wanted to know HOW I’M FEELING...(?!) and to apologize.... she also wanted to tell me that they rented my van without disclosing their full intentions, or plans, and she’s sorry for that too. #disney #pixar just tried to smooth things over with a phone call, instead of putting their art dept to work, or asking. #Onward #corporateartsucks #justiceforsmallbusinessowners @vesta_dregs !!!!