Mouse can’t use Lion’s name

The lion’s roar turned away the mouse Wednesday when an L.A. Superior Court jury decided unanimously to disallow Walt Disney Studios’ claim to the MGM name and logo for a projected European theme park.

The ruling represents a split decision in a long legal battle in which MGM lost a 1992 court fight to keep Disney from using the MGM name and logo at its Orlando theme park. During that 1992 case, Disney claimed to have exclusive worldwide rights to the MGM name in connection with theme parks.

MGM declined comment. But the court victory could resonate positively with prospective investors in MGM’s impending public offering.

Disney corporate spokesman John Dreyer said the Mouse wasn’t roaring too loudly over the ruling.

“We’ve very pleased that we maintained the name for our U.S. theme parks. We will look at a variety of options regarding Europe,” Dreyer said. “There was a jury verdict that awarded $1.5 million to MGM. That was far less than the $13 million they were asking for.”

Dreyer would not comment on whether the Mouse would appeal.

The root of the tussle is a 1985 licensing contract between the two companies. That agreement specified that MGM’s rights would revert to the company if Disney failed to build an MGM theme park within nine years. The agreement that covers Orlando will stand until 2004.

Dan Cox contributed to this story.

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