Judge Orders Hold on U.S. Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime License (Updated)
posted on 2011-06-02 19:30 EDT by Gia Manry
On Thursday, United States Bankruptcy Judge Shelley Chapman ordered TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), the owners of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime franchise, to comply with an automatic stay on the anime's licensing. According to the order, the owners cannot re-license the franchise or otherwise exercise control over rights to the franchise. The rights were held by the North American distributor 4Kids under its 2001 and 2008 contracts with TV Tokyo and NAS.
TV Tokyo and NAS had announced in March that they would terminate 4Kids' Yu-Gi-Oh! license and sue the distributor. The owners claimed that 4Kids fraudulently hid income that should have been subject to royalties for the Japanese owners.
In her Thursday order, Judge Chapman also said that the trial on the franchise's licensing will proceed in two phases: the first will determine whether TV Tokyo and NAS' announced cancellation of 4Kids' license was valid, and whether 4Kids owes the owners money and exactly how much. 4Kids must respond to the lawsuit on June 10, followed by discovery, objections, and witness lists. The first phase of the trial will begin on August 29. Details on the second phase have not been revealed.
4Kids filed for bankruptcy in April; the company had previously stated it might have to file after the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit. The lawsuit judge then remanded, or sent, the lawsuit to the bankruptcy court due to the relation between the two cases. When 4Kids learned that ADK, the owner of Nihon Ad Systems, would promote the new Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime series at the Licensing Expo International later this month, 4Kids filed a motion requesting enforcement of the automatic stay mentioned above.
Image © Kazuki Takahashi Studio Dice/Shueisha, TV Tokyo, NAS
Update: Corrected information about the trial's phases. Thanks, ravegrl.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history