COPYCAT brands of popular Western brands are nothing new in Asia. From “Sunbucks Coffee” to “Dolce & Banana”, tourists can play a game of “Spot the Knock-off Brand” to pass the time when exploring the shopping districts of Asian cities.
The latest “homage” to a big brand is “Disney Laos”, a theme park set to be built in the quaint province of Khammouane, along the Mekong river.
The park will be part of a larger $US10 billion development project in the Communist-ruled country that will include a five-star hotel and resort, a shopping mall and a golf course.
The theme park will also feature cartoon characters and is expected to be completed in seven to 10 years’ time.
Somjith Aliyaphaphone, a Lao investor in the theme park, told GlobalPost, “If it’s called ‘Disney Laos,’ then that should be permitted. But Disneyland? That would be copyright infringement.”
“We think that’s the case, anyways. But, yes, we’re worried about lawsuits,” he added.
Investors to the project are right to be worried about lawsuits, as Disney is known for being territorial over its copyrights.
In a similar case, in 2007, Shijingshan Amusement Park near Beijing faced closure after it was found to feature obvious imitations of Disney characters, which were then phased-out after talks with Disney.
However, in the case of “Disney Laos”, it remains to be seen how similar the theme park will look to any of Disney’s famed parks.