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Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Convotron » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:03 pm

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In any other case, I'd be more balanced in my view since I can see validity in the Jetfire/Valkyrie issue but as others have already said, Harmony Gold is known for their squatting of the Robotech property and using it to make money via lawsuits. They're basically trying to get money out of Hasbro.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Metrosuplex » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:05 pm

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(From Wikipedia)
The first two years of Transformers toys were figures taken from older Japanese toylines, primarily Takara's Diaclone and Microman lines. 1985, however, saw several figures reused from lines created by Takatoku Toys, of which Jetfire was one - that of the VF-1S Super Valkyrie Fighter from the Macross series. This figure was one the most articulated of the early Transformer toys, featuring fully poseable shoulder, hip, elbow and knee joints, and even poseable sacroiliac joints.[9] The instruction manual for the toy even included the GERWALK mode designed for the Macross version of the toy, which was used in that animated series, and seen briefly in the Transformers season 2 episode "The Day of the Machines".
Problems over the Jetfire toy began when Bandai absorbed Takatoku Toys, and Macross regained popularity, leading to Bandai's desire to reproduce the Valkyrie toy themselves. This led to problems for Takara when they imported the Transformers toyline - although Hasbro was able to market the Jetfire toy in their markets, Takara was not, nor could they promote it via the animated series, since the mold was owned by their main competitor. Although an animation model had been created for Jetfire based on the appearance of the toy (which could be seen in the original toy commercial advertising the figure), this was quickly scrapped and completely redesigned so as to no longer resemble the Valkyrie. This was the design that went on to feature in the comics and cartoons.
Jetfire only saw a few American production runs, as the show the original toy was based upon, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, was exported to America to become the first third of Robotech. Ironically, since Hasbro released Jetfire first, there was never a U.S. release of an authentic transforming version of the toy for Robotech, even though the design was the series' most recognizable and popular mecha. As with other pre-Robotech borrowings from Macross (for instance, Battletech), the licensing situation for the toy became murky with two different companies (Big West and Tatsunoko Production) asserting exclusive rights to license Macross merchandise outside Japan. Due to these legal issues, Jetfire has not been among the Transformers toys reissued in the 21st century .[10]
This toy is patented in the U.S. as patent number D287037.[11]


Now I understand the suit! #-o

This was never about how similar the SDCC jet looks to Robotech's jet.... this is about how Jetfire IS a Robotech character!

Hence, this is really Hasbro using a Robotech character without permission, regardless of how he looks in toy form. Historically, this IS a Robotech character, and Harmony thus has a right to require financial/legal permission for his use.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Metrosuplex » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:08 pm

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Convotron wrote:In any other case, I'd be more balanced in my view since I can see validity in the Jetfire/Valkyrie issue but as others have already said, Harmony Gold is known for their squatting of the Robotech property and using it to make money via lawsuits. They're basically trying to get money out of Hasbro.


Well, not if Harmony owns the design, and Jetfire IS a Macross/Robotech character. If this is true, they have a legal right to require permission to use their character in any format.

For example, I'm pretty sure no one would complain about Hasbro suing McDonald's for making a Soundwave toy without their permission.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Midnight_Fox » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:15 pm

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helli0n wrote:Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding of copyright law in regards to infringement there has to be a clear and intentionally attempt at violating copyright for it to be an actual infringement.



Copyright infringement does not require intent. It's possible to violate Copyright by doing something you assume is allowed by Fair Use with no intent to infringe or through independent development whilst trying to create a similar or compatible product. You can even use these things as "positive defense" in the case of a suit.



Metrosuplex, it's not bullying because that's how you determine if something is infringing or not, through court(to determine who actually owns the copyright, whether it is truly protectable, et al). Bullying in a legal sense would be something such as a company like Harmony Gold going after a company that doesn't have the funds to defend itself in court and thus MUST relent because they can't stand up to the monetary force being thrown at them. In this case, however, Hasbro is VERY capable of putting up a defense if they feel they are not in the wrong. As a metaphor, since we like the school yard imagery in this thread: This is like two jocks going at each other over a girl.

Most of these cases actually don't go to court because companies DON'T want to test the strength of their Copyrights and neither side wishes to take the time and funds to argue over legal points for several years just to sit in court for 2-4 weeks at some point 3 years in the future to hear a verdict, not because they don't have merit. In fact, most judges push for the settling because it's a waste of their time and tax payer money to do something the companies tend to do themselves on a daily basis. It mostly when neither side can agree on a mutual outcome that it goes to court.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby T-Macksimus » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:21 pm

I didn't even make it to the main meat of the article, just read the headline and started ROLLING! :lol:

Seriously, what were they expecting would happen? If they had left it at just the paint scheme they would have been in the clear but the second they threw on those rockets, that unquestioningly became a Macross VF-1J and Harmony Gold had every right in the world to pursue this if they weren't approached first.

Y'all can debate all you want and there have been several good points and facts brought up by many here. Myself, I'll just keep laughing and shaking my head. This is just too damn funny from my pov.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby datguy86 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:29 pm

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Yeah, because sometimes everyone just rolls over and takes it. While what you've described is the norm, Harmony Gold does not have the cash Hasbro does. And if Hasbro decides to fight this - simply because they're sick of having to ask Harmony Gold to use what would normally be within Hasbro's right to use - it would set an interesting precedent for any future IP lawsuits between Harmony Gold and other companies. We'll have to see what happens.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby GuyIncognito » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:41 pm

Metrosuplex wrote:
If I design my own jet with boosters, and it "sort of looks like" Robotech, am I in violation, too? :BOOM:


No, but if you clearly design it intentionally to resemble a Robotech design, and you try to sell it commercially, you will probably get sued.

They're not suing because Hasbro made a jet with boosters; they're suing because Hasbro made a toy specifically designed to resemble one of their designs, without their permission.

How are you STILL not getting it? :BANG_HEAD:
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby helli0n » Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:51 pm

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Midnight_Fox wrote:
helli0n wrote:Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding of copyright law in regards to infringement there has to be a clear and intentionally attempt at violating copyright for it to be an actual infringement.



Copyright infringement does not require intent. It's possible to violate Copyright by doing something you assume is allowed by Fair Use with no intent to infringe or through independent development whilst trying to create a similar or compatible product. You can even use these things as "positive defense" in the case of a suit.


That is true, I started to remember (after I posted) how the music industry has played fast and lose with "too similar" concept. Even with that though...intent goes a long way. Still though talking about this is all hypothetical since it probably won't go to trial, but here are examples of how it could go down in legit trial if it was just about similarities in the way we are discussing:

John Fogerty Vs his old CCR record label because he sounded too much like CCR

Huey Lewis & the News Vs Ghostbusters because a "hired gun" was brought in to intentionally copy their music
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Che » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:35 pm

I wish Hasbro would take this all the way to the court and finally win, shutting up Harmony Gold's whine once and for all and then releasing a beautiful Masterpiece Jetfire :x
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby hpfabe » Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:37 pm

Remember, the first step in copyright is determining if the plaintiff holds a valid copyright.
Did Tatsunoko have the valid copyright, to grant it until 2021? Did Hasbro has a license still standing from a previous agreement? Sounds like there might be some debate there, though if Hasbro has in the past licensed this from Harmony Gold, then that can clearly get used against them.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Bumblevivisector » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:20 pm

Well, maybe Hasbro didn't ask HG for permission because they honestly thought this design looked less Super-Valk/Veritech-ish than previous Jetfires? For one, if the Skystriker and Valk each took different liberties with the F-14 Tomcat design, that's one step away from each other as far back as the early '80s.

Secondly, is everyone mentioning the boosters overlooking the central part connecting them? That's emulating a detail of the Skyfire model NOT present in any Macross/Robotech design. In fact, the only Transformer toy that's ever had anything close is Energon Omnicon Skyblast. Even Classics Jetfire had just the two largely separate pontoons, which I was disappointed with at the time, as I saw is as a missed opportunity for greater media-accuracy. That toy, therefore, more obviously required an OK from HG than this thing.

I've come to love Robotech ever more since the Toonami reruns, and I honestly do feel kind of sorry for HG, what with all the stumbling blocks impeding the revival of their property. Carl Macek died three years ago, and I just recently learned that after the Exo-Squad vs. Robotech reissues in the mid-'90s, the molds for the original HG/Matchbox toys were improperly stored, causing them to rust, and can never be used again! Tragic.

This means that the only way those toys can be reproduced is through reverse-molding, therefore, for the sake of preservation...CHMS? If you're reading this, pay close attention to the suit, and when Harmony Gold falls on their ass, get yer' engines runnin', cuz' I gotta' have enough hovertanks for the whole Southern Cross army! (They have a lot of CHMS Seekers to defend the protoculture in my bedroom against) Oh, and remold them enough that they can actually achieve battloid mode without kitbashing; so many vintage ones get ruined in botched attempts, so the prices keep soaring. And when HG files suit against you, just point out that with the molds destroyed there's no way they were going to do more reissues of those toys, so you're not hurting anyone!

Oh, and everyone else? Do please buy that the official release of that Shadow Chronicles/Love-Live-Alive DVD they released last week. Harmony Gold does need all the help they can get.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby GuyIncognito » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:32 pm

Bumblevivisector wrote:Oh, and everyone else? Do please buy that the official release of that Shadow Chronicles/Love-Live-Alive DVD they released last week. Harmony Gold does need all the help they can get.


LOL, I don't buy things to support the company selling them. It's not a charity. If you have trouble paying your bills, are they going to help you?
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby datguy86 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:37 pm

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GuyIncognito wrote:
Bumblevivisector wrote:Oh, and everyone else? Do please buy that the official release of that Shadow Chronicles/Love-Live-Alive DVD they released last week. Harmony Gold does need all the help they can get.


LOL, I don't buy things to support the company selling them. It's not a charity. If you have trouble paying your bills, are they going to help you?


Harmony Gold going away would be the biggest boon for fans of Macross, and by extension Southern Cross and Mospeada; since someone with marketing knowledge will most likely step up and do something about it. Arguably, the remaining bits of Robotech franchise would also benefit.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Midnight_Fox » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:41 pm

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I already showed my support for the Robotech franchise by supporting the Tactics Kickstarter.

I honestly don't care about Harmony Gold, but I DO care about the franchise. I just wish HG had given the rights to someone other than Palladium, because they're terribad at getting things out on time.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Che » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:44 pm

Interesting:

"Harmony Gold’s license for Macross came from Tatsunoko Production, but Japanese courts ruled that it was Studio Nue (creators of the series) that controls the Macross intellectual property. The license Tatsunoko was given was for international distribution outside Japan only, and does not allow them to control the intellectual property."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony_Gold_USA

If that can be confirmed as true... I want my MP Jetfire :grin:
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby JelZe GoldRabbit » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:52 pm

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Che wrote:Interesting:

"Harmony Gold’s license for Macross came from Tatsunoko Production, but Japanese courts ruled that it was Studio Nue (creators of the series) that controls the Macross intellectual property. The license Tatsunoko was given was for international distribution outside Japan only, and does not allow them to control the intellectual property."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony_Gold_USA

If that can be confirmed as true... I want my MP Jetfire :grin:


So just for the series, but not any of the designs, including the toys? Unlike back in the 80's, Bandai actually has a presence in the US, and thus does not need a representative in the shape of the main licensee. In short, it should be Bandai suing, not Harmony Gold. :lol:
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby datguy86 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:55 pm

Motto: "SHEEAGH!"
Harmony Gold can't stand in the way of a Takara Masterpiece, but it can try with Hasbro.

Here's a Kotaku article on the whole mess. No mention of the Cali judge who backed HG on their right to assert Macross licensing dominance, so color me wrong on that front unless I can prove otherwise. Apologies if someone posted this already.

http://kotaku.com/5990702/why-you-havent-seen-any-new-macross-in-the-west-for-nearly-15-years
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Bumblevivisector » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:04 pm

GuyIncognito wrote:
Bumblevivisector wrote:Oh, and everyone else? Do please buy that the official release of that Shadow Chronicles/Love-Live-Alive DVD they released last week. Harmony Gold does need all the help they can get.


LOL, I don't buy things to support the company selling them. It's not a charity. If you have trouble paying your bills, are they going to help you?
Oh, that was just my version of a "support the official release too" disclaimer, which I thought was polite to do after my usual bit about how knock-off companies should be allowed to go hog-wild with toy molds that IP holders can't or won't do anything with, for the sake of preservation and the fans.

If we want to starve HG? Then everyone buy the bootleg of Robotech: The Movie ("The Untold Story", not the f@#%ing Bionoids) because that one's never, ever getting a legit release. Screw whoever owns Megazone. Thank you.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Midnight_Fox » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:13 pm

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JelZe GoldRabbit wrote:
Che wrote:Interesting:

"Harmony Gold’s license for Macross came from Tatsunoko Production, but Japanese courts ruled that it was Studio Nue (creators of the series) that controls the Macross intellectual property. The license Tatsunoko was given was for international distribution outside Japan only, and does not allow them to control the intellectual property."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony_Gold_USA

If that can be confirmed as true... I want my MP Jetfire :grin:


So just for the series, but not any of the designs, including the toys? Unlike back in the 80's, Bandai actually has a presence in the US, and thus does not need a representative in the shape of the main licensee. In short, it should be Bandai suing, not Harmony Gold. :lol:


Not quite:

"Harmony Gold's exclusive rights extend, without limitation, to the distribution of the Macross television series and the right to create and authorize the sale of merchandise based on such series."

Bold added for emphasis.

Now, that's coming from HG themselves(from a Cease and Desist order, no less!), but as stated, until someone actually decides to bring a case to court, there's nothing US legal determining whether it's true or not.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Che » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:23 pm

datguy86 wrote:Here's a Kotaku article on the whole mess. No mention of the Cali judge who backed HG on their right to assert Macross licensing dominance, so color me wrong on that front unless I can prove otherwise. Apologies if someone posted this already.
http://kotaku.com/5990702/why-you-havent-seen-any-new-macross-in-the-west-for-nearly-15-years

Thanks for the link, very interesting reading. For me, Harmony Gold is nowadays just a lazy/useless/greedy law office (I refuse to call them a company) trying to get some free money by exploiting a supposedly legal monopoly from the past and just harming western fans of both Macross and Transformers series.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Delicon » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:38 pm

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I'd be shocked if this lawsuit carries any weight, but we'll see.
datguy86 wrote:This is the second TFCC toy named after a vibrator, yes?
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Metrosuplex » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:55 pm

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Midnight_Fox wrote:Metrosuplex, it's not bullying because that's how you determine if something is infringing or not, through court(to determine who actually owns the copyright, whether it is truly protectable, et al). Bullying in a legal sense would be something such as a company like Harmony Gold going after a company that doesn't have the funds to defend itself in court and thus MUST relent because they can't stand up to the monetary force being thrown at them. In this case, however, Hasbro is VERY capable of putting up a defense if they feel they are not in the wrong. As a metaphor, since we like the school yard imagery in this thread: This is like two jocks going at each other over a girl.

Most of these cases actually don't go to court because companies DON'T want to test the strength of their Copyrights and neither side wishes to take the time and funds to argue over legal points for several years just to sit in court for 2-4 weeks at some point 3 years in the future to hear a verdict, not because they don't have merit. In fact, most judges push for the settling because it's a waste of their time and tax payer money to do something the companies tend to do themselves on a daily basis. It mostly when neither side can agree on a mutual outcome that it goes to court.


Let me disagree a little here, Midnight_Fox. After all, you are claiming that it is IMPOSSIBLE to bully a big kid. Hasbro has the funds to defend itself, so it can't be bullying? No, I was talking about what's known as a nuisance suit - the kind of BS companies deal with and settle on.

While your explanation about copyright and the court systems is true in the college definition of such things, I still advocate that real world legalities play differently: if you don't KNOW you can win, then you are spending money on the roll of a dice - that's the court systems. If you disagree with this basic interpretation, you have no had the "pleasure" of being involved in a court case yourself. Because all the evidence in the world does not guarantee you a win (either as defense or prosecution). I'm saying that intelligent companies don't go to court based on this fact alone.

Of course, I completely agree with your points, too. Companies probably do NOT want to test the limits of their copyrights. I just don't think it's all that complicated, and I especially don't think court proceedings have much to do with "merit" or "evidence". At least not in regards to lawsuits. If a woman can sue McDonald's over hot coffee on her lap, and if she can win excessive punitive damages because McDonald's refuses to make the coffee cooler? Yeah, that's America and we have a problem. The first step is to admit the problem! :lol:

By the way, judges push for settlements to lighten their legal loads, as well. Don't forget that. They see hundreds of cases, so why not encourage parties to work it out amongst themselves? It's a waste of court time, as you said, if they can do so. But I guess your point is that these things go to court when both parties are so volatile as to be unable to sit through arbitration of any kind.

Two jocks vying for the same girl? Read my previous post: this is Harmony telling Hasbro not to touch its wife! Harmony owns Jetfire (physically, even if Hasbro/Takara changed the face/story). And I am not sure Harmony is a jock, if Hasbro is a jock... :roll:

GuyIncognito wrote:
Metrosuplex wrote:
If I design my own jet with boosters, and it "sort of looks like" Robotech, am I in violation, too? :BOOM:


No, but if you clearly design it intentionally to resemble a Robotech design, and you try to sell it commercially, you will probably get sued.

They're not suing because Hasbro made a jet with boosters; they're suing because Hasbro made a toy specifically designed to resemble one of their designs, without their permission.

How are you STILL not getting it? :BANG_HEAD:


Go back and read my wikipedia post. You're either lazy or decided to quit reading, mid-thread! :lol: As things stand, historically speaking, Hasbro/Takara did not "design Jetfire to resemble" a Macross jet - JETFIRE IS MACROSS/ROBOTECH! It was originally a Macross toy, and Hasbro/Takara borrowed it for their TF line!

But seriously, are you the one that keeps saying stuff like, "How are you STILL not getting it? :BANG_HEAD:"

Cause if you're going to insinuate I'm too stupid to understand your point of view (a big assumption, if you don't know me), then I'm going to counter and say, "Maybe I don't get it because you're being a douche?" ;)
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Metrosuplex » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:02 pm

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Delicon wrote:I'd be shocked if this lawsuit carries any weight, but we'll see.

From Wikipedia:
The first two years of Transformers toys were figures taken from older Japanese toylines, primarily Takara's Diaclone and Microman lines. 1985, however, saw several figures reused from lines created by Takatoku Toys, of which Jetfire was one - that of the VF-1S Super Valkyrie Fighter from the Macross series. This figure was one the most articulated of the early Transformer toys, featuring fully poseable shoulder, hip, elbow and knee joints, and even poseable sacroiliac joints.[9] The instruction manual for the toy even included the GERWALK mode designed for the Macross version of the toy, which was used in that animated series, and seen briefly in the Transformers season 2 episode "The Day of the Machines".
Problems over the Jetfire toy began when Bandai absorbed Takatoku Toys, and Macross regained popularity, leading to Bandai's desire to reproduce the Valkyrie toy themselves.


This lawsuit carries weight because Jetfire IS A MACROSS TOY. Ergo, as Harmony Gold has control over the property, Hasbro is REQUIRED to seek permission before using it.

Earlier in the thread, Seibertron mentioned that Hasbro previously got permission when they released Classics Jetfire a few years back. This case has merit because Hasbro apparently did not seek permission this time around.

My guess is that they thought they could slip it under the radar or were rushed. But as they broke intellectual property law (or copyright?), Hasbro should be held liable and should pay Harmony.

I'm not surprised to see a lot of people defend Hasbro (I did, too!), but there is violation here - many of you are as unaware of Jetfire's origins as I was! #-o
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"It's not an animal; it's a robot. Robots don't need fur, feathers, or skin textures. And don't tell me they need it for disguise, as these robots are clearly not trying to disguise themselves." [in reference to Prime Grimwing]
"...you don't care what the topic is; for you, every thread is just an opportunity to argue, flame-bait, and troll."
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Midnight_Fox » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:18 pm

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Metrosuplex wrote: But I guess your point is that these things go to court when both parties are so volatile as to be unable to sit through arbitration of any kind.


Mostly, yes.
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Re: Harmony Gold Files Lawsuit Over SDCC 2013 G.I. Joe/Transformers Crossover Set

Postby Delicon » Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:18 pm

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Other than the colors and the launchers, this toy looks much more like a Skystriker than anything Macross put out. I still don't see the merit.

The difference with the toy a few years back is that it was a fully transformable figure that had more resemblance to the original for that reason.
datguy86 wrote:This is the second TFCC toy named after a vibrator, yes?
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