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North American anime distributor Funimation filed a lawsuit against Miller Isaiah Timmons and 10 unnamed "John Does" associated with his businesses on February 28 for alleged copyright infringement.
According to documents filed with the Colorado District Court, Funimation is seeking damages and injunctive relief against Timmons for repeated sales of counterfeit and unauthorized merchandise at the Animeland Wasabi convention. Timmons manages the convention and other operations through his Think Art Media and Animeland businesses.
According to Funimation's documents, Timmons sold vinyl decals featuring characters from Funimation's licensed properties through Think Art Media's "Stuck-on-Anime" business. The company also alleges that Timmons knowingly allowed counterfeit merchandise to be sold at the convention by other vendors, including "pocket watches depicting characters and symbols from Fullmetal Alchemist along with a toy box including 'Dragon Balls' in the distinct Dragon Ball Z yellow with arrangements of red stars." Funimation asserts that it repeatedly contacted Timmons about the activities, but its requests for compliance were ignored.
The 10 John Does in the case are parties who allegedly worked with Timmons and who Funimation asserts "have knowledge of the infringement at issue and/or have maintained willful blindness to the infringement and/or profit from the infringement."
The FindTheCompany website lists Think Art Media with an estimated revenue of US$98,000 for 2011.
Funimation is asking for statutory damages up to US$150,000, delivery of all of the infringing merchandise at Timmons' expense, attorney fees, and other costs.
Funimation's legal department offered the following statement:
Sales of unlicensed and counterfeit goods happen at almost every convention. Sometimes convention management is extremely proactive in preventing this. Other times, we have to get involved and be rather demanding about compliance. With Animeland, even the fans and dealers were reporting infringement to convention staff, but the head of the convention refused to do anything whatsoever to remedy the problem. That's where we have to draw the line
The Animeland Wasabi convention in Denver is not related to Green Mustard Entertainment's WasabiCon in Florida and the Wasabi Anime brand. Tom Croom of WasabiCon told ANN that WasabiCon contacted Timmons in 2011 over Animeland Wasabi's alleged infringement on the "Wasabi Anime" trademark. According to Croom, Green Mustard sent a cease-and-desist notice in 2012 after Timmons did not change the convention's name after the issue was brought to his attention. Croom stated that the company is currently discussing "filing a complaint and taking further legal action," especially if any wrongdoing on the part of Animeland Wasabi affects WasabiCon's brand image.
Animeland Wasabi 2013 was held March 1-3 in Denver, Colorado.
Anime News Network has contacted Timmons and is currently awaiting comment.
Update: Green Mustard Entertainment contacted Timmons in 2011 over Animeland Wasabi's alleged infringement on the "Wasabi Anime" trademark, not the "WasabiCon" trademark.
Update 2: Funimation has provided ANN with the following new statement:
FUNimation is collecting additional witness statements and requests that anyone who has personally witnessed or made complaints to Animeland Wasabi personnel about counterfeit/bootleg/unlicensed merchandise during the 2011, 2012 or 2013 AW conventions and is willing to publicly go on the record about it, please contact us at animelandlawsuit (at funimation.com) as soon as possible. FUNimation is not currently requesting additional statements regarding the infringing merchandise itself.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history