Friday, September 22, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Friday, September 22, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Inventor’s Suit Against Disney Doesn’t Fly

(CN) - Disney did not promise a New Jersey man that it would help to build a Star-Wars style flying car, the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled.

Joseph Alford filed a pro se lawsuit against Walt Disney Co., and company officers Bob Chapek and Robert A. Iger, after the company turned down his pitch to build a car that would "travel between the realms of an automobile and an airplane."

Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III dismissed the case because Alford did not prove that he had a contract with Disney, but Glasscock called Alford's complaint "remarkable."

"It cites to the 'Epic of Gilgamesh,' Woody Guthrie, the Declaration of Independence, Noah and the Great Flood, 'Game of Thrones,' 'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,' 'Star Trek,' President Obama, and Euclid's proof of the Infinity of Primes, among other references," he wrote.

Alford stated that he could sum up his complaint in one sentence: "Two executives of the Disney Company are stalling the next evolution of human transportation on this planet."

According to his concept, the vehicle would be modeled after the X-Wing fighter from the first Star Wars Movie, Episode IV: A New Hope. Disney owns the trademark, and it will premiere a new Star Wars movie later this year.

Alford also claims that a company called Terrafugia, which is not a party to his lawsuit, can produce a vehicle that can take off and land vertically. It would then be programmed for a destination and operated remotely by the FAA, according to Alford's concept.

Alford also wanted Disney to publicize the flying car on its ABC and ESPN network, as well as at halftime of a Florida State Seminoles football game.

However, Glasscock ruled that Alford did not prove he had an agreement with Disney to go forward with his plan after pitching the idea in July 2014.

"According to the plaintiff, participating in the July 22 telephone call represented a change in Disney's prior policy not to accept unsolicited proposals, which he took as a guarantee that his proposal would be accepted," Glasscock wrote.

He added that Alford and Disney had nothing that resembled a contract.

"There are simply no allegations in the complaint from which I can infer that Disney agreed to do anything, let alone what the terms of that 'anything' might have been," Glasscock wrote.

The vice chancellor said Alford "should persevere," comparing him to other visionaries who were not fully appreciated in their time, such as Robert Fulton, William Seward, the Impressionists, Igor Stravinsky and Vincent Van Gogh.

"It reportedly took Edison over a thousand attempts to create the light bulb before he struck upon the carbon filament," he noted.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.