Ultraman in Dispute!
Tsuburaya Productions Takes on Chaiyo in China!
Author: Bob Johnson
In the on-going litigation between Tsuburaya Productions of Japan and Chaiyo Productions of Thailand, a new lawsuit has been filed in Chinese court. This is the latest court case involving the companies’ dispute over rights to ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN, ULTRA SEVEN, RETURN OF ULTRAMAN, ULTRAMAN ACE, ULTRAMAN TARO and JUMBORG ACE. Also included are the two films, SIX ULTRA BROTHERS VS. THE MONSTER ARMY and JUMBORG ACE AND GIANT.
On August 23, 2006, the Chinese courts opened “The Ultraman Copyright Study Group” in Beijing in response to Tsuburaya’s lawsuit against Chaiyo for copyright infringement and plagiarism. According to Tsuburaya Productions, the Thai company created three characters including Ultraman Millennium and produced goods based on them. From May of this year in Hongzhou, China, a long-term event featuring these 3 characters has been going on and a television program is in preparation.
The Tokyo High Court ruled in 2004 that in 1976 Tsuburaya Productions transferred “usage rights” (termed as “shiyo kenri”) for its earliest characters to the then chairman of the Thai company, Sompote Saenguduenchai for territories outside of Japan. Tsuburaya still holds the copyrights to the characters and their likenesses. Tsuburaya contends that the original contract the ruling was based on is a forgery and that Chaiyo holds no rights whatsoever. From now on it seems as if the stage for the dispute may move to China.
It seems that Tsuburaya is currently concentrating on the lawsuit in Beijing and awaiting the outcome of that court case before proceeding with additional litigation against other Chaiyo-based licensing agreements and products that it considers further infringement on its copyright of the Ultraman character and image.
Stay tuned to SciFi Japan and we will keep you updated as more details present themselves!