ADV Files 3rd-Party Claim in Funimation's Lawsuit
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
On May 8, A.D. Vision filed a counterclaim and a third-party claim in the lawsuit that Funimation and other plaintiffs filed last November in the district court of Harris County, Texas. The claims are part of the ongoing lawsuit and are not a separate case. The parties named in A.D. Vision's third-party claim include Funimation, FUNimation Productions, LTD., AnimeOnline Ltd., Funimation GP LLC, Anime LP Holdings LLC, Funimation LP LLC, and Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga.
In the counterclaim and third-party claim, A.D. Vision (ADV) asserts that the case is "the culmination of Funimation's illicit scheme designed to obliterate competition in the market for Japanese anime." ADV also claims that "Funimation is, or is dangerously close to becoming, a monopolist." ADV additionally claims that Funimation's original claims "are a baseless attempt to drive out competition, and Funimation should be held accountable for its actions."
ADV claims, among other things, that Funimation has violated the Federal Sherman Act and the Texas Free Enterprise Act. The company claims that Funimation is "a monopolist in the various downstream [and upstream] markets for Japanese anime" or that it is "attempting to achieve a monopoly" in these markets and "is dangerously close to doing so." ADV additionally claims that Funimation "willfully and intentionally" interfered with the agreement between ADV and ARM Corporation — which was a third party licensing entity jointly owned by Sojitz Corporation and several other companies — and that Fukunaga, Funimation, Sojitz, ARM, and Japan Contents Investments LPS (JCI) "conspired, agreed and otherwise had a meeting of the minds to defraud ADV."
ADV's counterclaim and third-party claim asked the court to judge in favor of ADV in Funimation's original lawsuit, judge in favor of ADV in ADV's third-party claim, and award ADV its "actual, consequential, direct, indirect, and exemplary damages," as well as its "attorney's fees, interests, and costs of court." Additionally, ADV asked the court to order that Funimation not attempt to "enforce any rights it claims to have secured from ARM and from obtaining any assets owned by the defendants," and grant any other "relief to which ADV and [ADV CEO and co-founder John Ledford] may be entitled in equity or law."
According to the Office of Harris County, on June 8 the case was "removed to Federal court." Funimation filed a notice of removal on June 8 in the third-party claim. The Office of Harris County currently lists that the case is disposed.
When asked for comment, ADV told ANN, "The lawsuit speaks for itself." Funimation declined to comment for this article.
BackgroundIn November, FUNimation Entertainment filed its original lawsuit in the district court of Harris County against John Ledford, as well as companies A.D. Vision, AEsir Holdings, Sxion 23 (A.K.A. Section23 Films), Valkyrie Media Partners, Seraphim Studios, Sentai Filmworks, Sentai Holdings, and Unio Mystica Holdings (A.K.A. Switchblade Pictures) for breach of contract and other claims. Funimation claims that the defendants owe the company "an amount to be proven at trial but currently estimated" to be approximately US$8 million plus interest, costs, and attorneys' fees. Funimation's lawsuit alleges that it became a creditor of ADV in regard to a debt ADV owed ARM Corporation.
In December, the defendants then filed the first counterclaim against Funimation disputing these charges. The companies claim, among other things, that they do not have a contract with Funimation and are not liable to the company. They claim that the companies did not exist when Funimation acquired the rights from ARM to enforce ADV's contract with ARM. In addition, the companies claim that Funimation's lawsuit was filed after the two-year statute of limitations, and that Funimation was not involved with the original contract and cannot claim any direct damages.
Founded in 1992, A.D. Vision (ADV) was a leading North American licensee, localizer and distributor of anime until the company ceased activities in 2009. At that time individuals related to ADV founded Section 23, Sentai Filmworks, and other companies. These new companies took over distribution of many ADV titles and continued to license, localize, and distribute new titles.
Thanks to Mikhail Koulikov for his help in researching this article.