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Tatsunoko Sues Over Speed Racer Anime Licensing

posted on by Egan Loo
Studio seeks US$1 million, claims 3 defendants exploited rights after license expired

Anime studio Tatsunoko Production filed a lawsuit on Friday against three members of the American licensing company Speed Racer Enterprises (SRE), and accused the three of exploiting the Speed Racer anime's rights after their license had expired. Tatsunoko is seeking US$1 million in damages from Michael S Cisneros, James J. Rocknowski, and John E. Rocknowski.

In the federal lawsuit, Tatsunoko said that it granted SRE a 10-year license to the 1967-68 car-racing anime series Mach Go Go Go in 2000. (Another company, Trans-Lux, had licensed the anime and released it with an English dub in 1967 under the name Speed Racer.) Tatsunoko then asserted that it extended SRE's license by one year, but the license expired in May of 2011.

Tatsunoko alleges that the three defendants continue to exploit the rights to the anime after the license expired, and that the three sub-licensed the rights to the movie studio Lions Gate and Toonz Entertainment. SRE's website still says that the company "owns the worldwide rights to the Classic Speed Racer animated television property as well as the all new Speed Racer: The Next Generation animated series coming in May, 2008 on Nickelodeon Networks."

Lions Gate produced the Speed Racer: The Next Generation remake with the New York studio Animation Collective. Also in 2008, the Wachowskis (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) directed an American live-action film adaptation.

The children's entertainment production company DiC Entertainment had sued SRE in 2003, alleging that SRE had sub-licensed the worldwide exploitation rights for Speed Racer to DIC in 2002 and then disavowed that agreement.

Source: Courthouse News Service

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