According to a recent report by Cartoonbrew, Disney and Pixar are currently facing a lawsuit from experienced child development specialist Denise Daniels, with the lawsuit alleging that the massively successful CG film Inside Out was based at least in part on her project titled “The Moodsters.”
The Moodsters project features five main characters that represent various emotions: happiness (yellow), anger (red), sadness (blue), fear (green), and love (pink). In comparison, Inside Out also featured representations of various emotions, this time consisting of joy (yellow), sadness (blue), anger (red), fear (purple), and disgust (green).
Unexpectedly, Daniels is not filing a copyright infringement case. Instead, she alleges that Disney and Pixar have breached an implied-in-fact contract, referring to the California Civil Code section 1621 in which “an implied contract is one, the existence and terms of which are manifested by conduct.”
Daniels alleges that Inside Out’s use of several ideas that she developed and used in The Moodsters facilitates an implied-in-fact contract that makes her entitled to compensation and credit from Disney and Pixar, as it is the custom in the entertainment industry that “creators…provide ideas and materials to producers and studios in exchange for compensation and credit” if said ideas and/or materials are used.
The lawsuit also claims that Daniels discussed the Moodsters with Disney CFO Thomas Skaggs in 2008, and that she spoke “for an extended period of time” with Inside Out director Pete Docter about her characters and concept. Finally, Daniels stressed that no other Disney or Pixar animated feature has ever used anthropomorphized emotions as characters, which imply uniqueness of her concept.