MN Child Development Expert Accuses Disney Of Stealing ‘Inside Out’ Concept

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An award-winning Disney movie is now the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by a Minnesotan.

The animated movie “Inside Out” was a big hit at the box office in 2015. It features color-coded characters who represent emotions like joy, sadness, anger, disgust and fear. But there’s a striking resemblence to these characters called “The Moodsters.” They were created by a Twin Cities child development expert, more than a decade ago.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday in Los Angeles by Denise Daniels. She’s an experienced parenting and child development expert and a book author, who lives here in the Twin Cities.

In the lawsuit, Daniels claims Disney and Pixar executives used ideas that she pitched to them to make the movie “Inside Out” and never compensated her.

moodsters MN Child Development Expert Accuses Disney Of Stealing ‘Inside Out’ Concept

The Moodsters (credit: http://themoodsters.com/)

inside out MN Child Development Expert Accuses Disney Of Stealing ‘Inside Out’ Concept

Characters from “Inside Out” (credit: Disney – Pixar)

When “Inside Out” came out two years ago, it immediately earned praise for helping children understand their emotions. It’s been a big moneymaker for Disney, grossing $850 million worldwide.

John Ella is an attorney who specializes in contract law.

“I think it is common for people to pitch ideas and feel their ideas were incorporated in a movie or something like that, but I think it’s going to be tough road for her to hoe,” Ella said.

In the lawsuit, Daniels accuses Disney and Pixar of “Breach of Implied-in-Fact Contract.” Daniels and her attorneys at Robins Kaplan say she created color-coded characters called “Moodsters” to represent emotions as a way to help children manage their feelings.

Related: PDF Of Lawsuit

It was years before “Inside Out” came out with its animated characters.

The lawsuit describes multiple meetings between Daniels and Disney and Pixar executives from 2005 to 2009 in which she shared her idea of using Moodsters to make a movie, with the understanding she would be compensated if they did.

In 2015 “Inside Out” made its debut.

“Perhaps if they get into the discovery process maybe they can find proof that they literally used her materials to develop the movie. If she can show that, then she would have a stronger claim,” Ella said.

Denise Daniels and her attorneys are not commenting on the lawsuit, but this afternoon we received a statement from a Disney representative.

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