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Speed Racer Rights Revert to Tatsunoko With Lawsuit Settled

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
SRE agrees license ended in 2011, ends relationship with anime studio

Anime studio Tatsunoko Production announced in a press release dated December 6 that its lawsuits against American licensing company Speed Racer Enterprises (SRE) have been dismissed. All parties mutually agreed to settle the two licensing lawsuits.

The settlement states that SRE's Speed Racer (Mach Go Go Go) license agreement expired on May 31, 2011. All rights reverted to Tatsunoko as of the termination date of SRE's license. Tatsunoko now exclusively owns all Speed Racer intellectual property rights worldwide, and any licensing agreement must be made through the company. Due to the settlement, Tatsunoko and SRE ended their business relationship and agreed that any exploitation and licensing of Speed Racer after May 31, 2011 is unauthorized unless granted directly through Tatsunoko.

Tatsunoko filed a lawsuit against SRE and a second lawsuit on October 26 against SRE members Michael S. Cisneros, James J. Rocknowski, and John E. Rocknowski. Tatsunoko accused the three of exploiting the Speed Racer anime's rights after SRE's license expired, and the anime studio sought US$1 million in damages.

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 then expired in May of 2011.

Tatsunoko alleged that the three defendants continued to exploit the rights to the anime after the license expired, and that they sub-licensed the rights to the movie studio Lions Gate and Toonz Entertainment.

Production of the U.S. Speed Racer: Circle of Vengeance comic was halted as of November due to the licensing dispute. The comic's publisher Allegory, LLC signed a contract with SRE in early May 2011 to produce books and merchandise related to the Speed Racer property. According to Allegory Chief Operations Officer David Fawley, the company paid SRE a large advance in June 2011, a month after SRE's license to the property expired.

Fawley reports that Tatsunoko's legal counsel informed Allegory of SRE's license status this past July. Allegory submitted a proposal to gain the rights directly through Tatsunoko, but an approval was delayed until after the lawsuit's resolution.

Thanks to Liam for the news tip

[Via SciFi Japan]

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