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June 22, 2016

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Makers of ‘The Autobots’ accused of plagiarism

THE companies behind the Chinese animated movie “The Autobots” are being sued for plagiarism by Disney Enterprises and Pixar, who claim it is closely based on their hit film “Cars,” the Pudong New Area People's Court said yesterday.

Disney Enterprises is demanding that the three companies — Xiamen-based moviemaker Lanhuoyan, Beijing-based media company G-Point and the local website PPLive — stop distributing the film. They also want compensation of 4 million yuan (US$607,488) from the former two.

“Cars” is a 2006 American animated film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Its sequel “Cars 2” was released five years later. “Cars” won several awards in 2006 and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

Disney and Pixar said “The Autobots,” which was released in cinemas last July and distributed online by PPLive, is very similar to the “Cars” franchise.

The two plaintiffs claim that the two major characters in “The Autobots” — K1 and K2 — were based on “Lightning McQueen” in “Cars” and “Francesco Bernoulli,” McQueen’s main racing rival from Italy, in “Cars 2.”

The poster for "The Autobots" also closely resembled the one for “Cars 2,” they claimed, adding that the Chinese name for “The Autobots” is also confusingly similar to the “Cars” franchise’s Chinese name.

They told the court it constituted copyright infringement and unfair competition.

In its defense, Lanhuoyan said it was not guilty of plagiarism because its staff created the movie independently and cited numerous differences between the two films, including the personalities and appearance of the characters.

The court has not yet delivered a verdict.


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