12 February 2024

Allen & Gledhill Partner Dr Stanley Lai, SC, Senior Associate David Lim, and Associates Linda Shi and Justin Tay contributed an article titled “Mickey Mouse enters the public domain - the end of a cultural icon?” to Bits & Bytes, a monthly online bulletin hosted on the website of the Centre for Technology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the Law (TRAIL) at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.

The recent expiration of the Mickey Mouse copyright (more specifically, the expiration of the copyright in the film Steamboat Willie, in which Mickey Mouse first made its debut) on 1 January 2024 has generated considerable public interest. This article delves into the history and impact of Mickey Mouse on the development of copyright law, and considers whether Disney’s strategy of aggressively protecting the artistic depiction of Mickey Mouse would be feasible, given advancements in modern-day technology and innovation.