Two Beauty and the Beast Pilots: Which One Gets to Keep the Title?

February 2, 2012Article
TV Guide

Why is this different from your average title conundrum? In this case, both sides can lay claim to the title Beauty and the Beast. The CW's drama is based on the 1980s CBS series starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. And ABC's show is based on the fairy tale, which is an important title to ABC parent Disney (previously spawning a hit animated movie and a Broadway musical).

According to entertainment lawyer Aaron Moss, when Disney previously sought to register a trademark for the title Beauty and the Beast, it wound up with Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The U.S. Trademark Office noted at the time that the phrase Beauty and the Beast couldn't be trademarked, as it "represents a well-known fairy tale that is in the public domain."

"Generally, the first to use a title in connection with a series has superior rights, so long as the title has become closely associated with that program," Moss says. "However, in this case, the title is public domain work, and the law more freely allows the use of public domain titles without violating trademark law."

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