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Harmony Gold Renews License to 1st Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada Anime Series

posted on by Egan Loo
Agreements extended with Tatsunoko, but do not cover later Macross projects

Harmony Gold U.S.A. Inc. reported at its Anime Expo panel on Friday that it has renewed and extended its licensing agreements with Tatsunoko Production for The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada anime series "well into the future." If the agreements had not been renewed, Harmony Gold's licensing to these three series would have expired on March 14, 2021.

During the panel's question-and-answer session, Tommy Yune, Harmony Gold's President of Animation, emphasized that the renewed agreements cover the first Macross series and not the followup projects in the Macross franchise, such as Macross Frontier and Macross Delta. He added that the status of the rights for those later Macross projects is "a separate question that has yet to be resolved."

Background

Tatsunoko licensed various rights to the first Macross series, Mospeada, and Southern Cross to Harmony Gold in 1984. Harmony Gold edited and rewrote the three shows into its 85-episode Robotech series in 1985. Harmony Gold went on to produce sequels, including 1986's Robotech II: The Sentinels and 2006's Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles.

Harmony Gold also signed two live-action motion picture deals: in 2007 with Warner Bros. and in 2016 with Columbia Pictures. No live-action films have yet been released, but Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman) was writing a script for a Robotech film.

In a 1991 agreement, Tatsunoko granted Harmony Gold the exclusive right to exploit 36 episodes of Macross, 25 episodes of Mospeada, and 23 episodes of Southern Cross for 10 years. The two companies extended the agreement in 1998 and 2002, so the license was eventually extended to March 14, 2021. Harmony Gold has not reported how long the current renewed agreements last.

Big West

Around 1998, advertising agency and Macross co-producer Big West filed against Tatsunoko, claiming it, not Tatsunoko, had the rights to make sequels to Macross. A 2003 court decision ruled in favor of Tatsunoko — notably saying that Tatsunoko had the right to license Macross to Harmony Gold — but Big West retains the rights to 41 of the original designs used in the series.

As a result of these proceedings, Tatsunoko and Harmony Gold's agreement in 1998 revoked Harmony Gold's right to make sequels to the three shows in question, but the 2002 agreement restored them for Mospeada and Southern Cross only. A 2003 agreement restored Harmony Gold's right to make derivative works of Macross, except with the designs owned by Big West. Tatsunoko disputed this 2003 agreement in its counterclaims, but the court upheld the agreement as valid.

Also as a result of the Big West litigation, Tatsunoko asked Harmony Gold to protect Macross trademarks outside of Japan, and agreed that Harmony Gold could deduct legal fees from royalties paid to Tatsunoko. Tatsunoko also disputed this agreement in its counterclaims, but again the court ruled in favor of Harmony Gold.

Arbitrition Case

Harmony Gold initiated arbitration against Tatsunoko in November 2016. Tatsunoko responded with counterclaims seeking US$15 million in damages, claiming Harmony Gold had breached contract by, among other things, sublicensing the shows and not paying home video royalties. A California court in June 2017 upheld the license agreements between Harmony Gold U.S.A. Inc. and Tatsunoko Production, and affirmed the agreements would expire without renewal in 2021.

Source: Harmony Gold's Anime Expo panel


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