Million-Dollar Beef Over 'Speed Racer' Anime
LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Japanese owner of the "Speed Racer" anime series demands $1 million from the principals of a U.S. company, claiming in court that they exploited rights to the series after their license expired.
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Tatsunoko Production sued James Rocknowski, John Rocknowski and Michael Cisneros of (nonparty) Speed Racer Enterprises Inc., in Federal Court.
Tatsunoko seeks damages for nine causes of action, including false advertising, unfair competition, interference and misappropriation of intellectual property rights.
The Tokyo-based company claims that in 2000 it granted Speed Racer Enterprises a 10-year license to rights for the animated series "Mach Go Go Go."
The series was Americanized as "Speed Racer," and Tatsunoko says it extended the agreement by a year in the summer of 2010.
Tatsunoko claims the defendants misappropriated and exploited the rights well after the agreement expired in May 2011, licensing rights to the property to more than a dozen companies, including Hollywood studio Lions Gate and Toonz Entertainment.
It claims that the three men also solicited third parties to enter into "Speed Racer" license agreements, and falsely represented on Speed Racer Enterprises websites that their company still holds rights to the series.
Tatsunoko seeks money damages, an injunction and a declaration that it owns "Speed Racer."
Adapted from a comic book, "Mach Go Go Go" first aired in Japan in the late 1960s. The American adaptation was broadcast in that decade on ABC.
In 2008 there was a "Speed Racer" movie, and the series has also spawned games, comic books and several animation series.
Tatsunoko is represented by Jeffery Shields, of Irvine.