Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Godzilla's Legal Defenders

by Armand Vaquer

Above, former Toho-L.A. General Manager Masaharu Ina and Armand at the Godzilla statue in Hibiya in February. The good working relationship between fan groups and Toho began under Ina's tenure as general manager. 

Here's a story that fans of Godzilla are familiar with. Or should be.

The article from the Japan Times is on the team of lawyers that Toho Co., Ltd. enlists to protect the Godzilla (and related creatures) trademark against bootleggers and companies who try to use Godzilla's image in advertising and other unauthorized ventures.

The article begins with:
He spews radioactive fire, razes cities and pummels creatures from Earth and beyond, but even Godzilla needs a good lawyer sometimes. After all, you don’t survive 60 years in the movie business without taking some fights to court. 
For decades, attorneys acting on behalf of Godzilla’s owners, Tokyo-based Toho Co., have amassed a string of victories, fighting counterfeiters and business titans such as Comcast and Honda along the way. The opponents have come from all corners of pop culture: TV commercials, video games, rap music and even the liquor industry. 
The litigation has kept Godzilla’s brand thriving and helped pave the way for commercial and merchandising tie-ins that will accompany the monster’s return to the big screen on Friday after a 10-year hiatus. Godzilla’s image is for sale, but permission is needed.
Back in the days when I was associated with G-FAN magazine, I made it a point to consult with Toho's Los Angeles office to make sure that what we did on different things didn't infringe on their trademarks. This was started while Masaharu Ina was Toho's Los Angeles General Manager. In this way, no toes were stepped on and Toho appreciated the the gesture. If they a problem with a certain aspect, they would suggest changes. We had an excellent working relationship, even though, officially, Toho has a policy of not sanctioning fan activities. But they were helpful whenever they could. Prior to this, there existed some friction between Toho and various fan leaders (some of whom seemed to want to pick fights with Toho). Cooperating with Toho had paid off many times.

To read the full story, go here.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.