Downtown Tokyo scene from Austin Powers In Goldmember
This online article in WIRED caught my attention:
Think Godzilla’s Scary? Meet His Lawyers
By David Kravets 11.24.08 4:03 PM
It’s been 54 years since an atomic blast awakened the slumbering reptilian monster Godzilla, and the fire-breathing, fin-tailed beast has been terrorizing downtown Tokyo ever since — in more than two dozen movies, on television and in comics and cartoons.
But Godzilla is a pussycat compared to the coterie of lawyers and investigators in Los Angeles and Japan who aggressively protect the radioactive behemoth from anyone who dares to appropriate his lizardly image for profit.
Hurling hundreds of lawsuits and takedown notices like so many fireballs, Godzilla’s owner — Toho Co. Ltd — has roasted Hollywood studios, automakers, toy manufacturers, rock bands, book publishers, national food chains, record labels, bloggers, wineries and just about anybody seen as capitalizing on the monster’s unique features, name or theme music. When it comes to policing trademarks and enforcing copyrights in the United States, intellectual property attorneys say Tokyo-based Toho is easily a match for Walt Disney, Fox and Lucasfilm in terms of courthouse zeal.
Click here for complete article
Correct me if I am wrong, my impression has been that the Japanese aren’t as litigious as their American cousins. Given Godzilla’s iconic status not only in Japan but around the world, it was something inevitable.
That is even more palpable with an upcoming reboot – one in which Toho itself shares production credit – centred on the classic incarnation of the monster. Apparently, they needed enough leverage so as not to repeat that abomination Roland Emmerich unleashed on multiplexes in 1998.
By the way, that random Tokyo sarariman uttering the punchline “It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright laws, it’s not!” is Masi Oka, whom you may recognise from his appearances in films like Get Smart as well as TV shows like Heroes and Hawaii Five-0 (2011)