Mickey Mouse is one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time. Created in 1928 by Walt Disney and animator Ub Iwerks, Mickey Mouse has served as the longtime mascot of The Walt Disney Company.
A viral TikTok video posted on Feb. 9 claimed Disney has plans to remove Mickey Mouse as its mascot and replace him with Figment, a purple dragon who is often considered the unofficial mascot of Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park. The video also claimed that Mickey Mouse is being removed because the character’s copyright protections are set to expire in 2024. Others on social media have shared similar claims.
VERIFY viewer Kristin asked our team on Instagram if these claims are true.
Is Disney removing Mickey Mouse as its official mascot?
No, Disney isn’t removing Mickey Mouse as its official mascot.
WHAT WE FOUND
The Walt Disney Company is not removing Mickey Mouse as its official mascot in 2024. This claim was first posted by Mouse Trap News, a satire website that regularly publishes fake stories about Disney on its blog and social media pages.
On Feb. 10, Mouse Trap News published an article claiming The Walt Disney Company had plans to remove Mickey Mouse as its mascot and replace him with Figment in 2024, citing legal issues with the Mickey Mouse character’s copyright protections. In the last paragraph of the blog post, Mouse Trap News calls the article a “totally made-up story.”
Mouse Trap News’ TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages make it clear that all the information it shares is satire. Each of their social media accounts says “Real Disney News That is 100% Fake” in their intro or bio sections.
Mouse Trap News’ about section on its website also says:
“Mouse Trap News is the world’s best satire site. We write fake stories about Disney Parks stuff. From Disney Park announcements to Disney Hotel and resort news to made-up Disney partnerships, you can be assured that anything you read here is not true, real, or accurate, but it is fun. So technically our slogan The Moused Trusted Name in Disney News isn’t true, but we thought it was creative and funny, so we are running with it.”
The original version of Mickey Mouse from “Steamboat Willie,” an eight-minute short film released in 1928, will enter the public domain on Jan. 1, 2024, in the United States once its copyright protections expire, according to recent news reports. This means no permission will be needed to copy or use the original version of the Mickey Mouse character featured in the short film.
Aaron J. Moss, a copyright attorney at Greenberg Glusker law firm in Los Angeles, wrote on his website that the original version of Mickey Mouse featured in “Steamboat Willie” had black eyes, small ears and a pointy nose. Over time, Mickey Mouse’s appearance has changed to the version we know today — and that Mickey is here to stay.
“These later versions of Mickey will still be protected by copyright even after the character’s original iteration enters the public domain,” Moss wrote.
The Walt Disney Company has not published any information on its website or corporate social media pages in regard to the removal of Mickey Mouse as its official mascot since the fake claims were first posted on Feb. 9. Mickey Mouse is still featured in the company’s official Twitter profile picture and official Facebook profile picture as of Feb. 21.
VERIFY reached out to The Walt Disney Company for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.