Godzilla Lawsuit – Copyright Karma Coming Back To Bite Toho On The Behind?

I’m not well at all – I think Rich e-mailed me his germs, in fact – but there’s some strange and interesting things out there, and I want to bring them to you. So, a few talking points stories, in something of a fuss-free manner.

Then bed. Then getting up and feeling really, really well – right? Right?

Let’s start with a little bit of Godzilla controversy.

I haven’t been able to find multiple sources, so consider this unverified, but I was tonight sent a link to the Japanese language blog Blogos. What follows is based upon their report.

So, it’s said that the family of Ishiro Honda, director of the original Gojira, are suing Toho, the company that produces and releases the big green fella’s pictures. The Honda estate are apparently looking to secure the full copyright, but Toho are desparate to retain, at the very least, the lucrative merchandising rights.

A recent, similar case by the estate of Akira Kurosawa went against Toho, so there’s every chance it will happen again.

Which is a real turnaround. Toho have been hugely litigious in the past, slapping down several uses of the Godzilla name or likeness, including:

  • Warner Bros. for Godzilla’s cameo in Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure
  • Subway for an animated Godzilla-alike in a commercial for their sandwiches
  • A band called Asshole Godzilla for their name
  • The Adler Fels Winery for their Cabzilla Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Honda, the car manufacturers, for using the big ol’ Gorilla Whale in a commercial, just this year.

The problem seems to be that most folk assume Godzilla is public domain, and he’s very much not. The question today, though, is in whose domain is he really?

There’s no suggestion in the report that this rights dispute will effect Legendary and Gareth Edwards’ upcoming US Godzilla movie.

I’ll keep looking for clarification on this one. If you have any more info, please send it over.

Incidentally, Criterion are releasing Honda’s landmark 1954 original on DVD and Blu-ray in January. Can’t wait.