Godzilla’s IP Team: Nothing Generic About This Monster

And speaking of dinosaurs… Apparently, Godzilla isn’t just a monster; he’s the mascot for Japanese intellectual property lawyers! In a very interesting article in Wired, David Kravets describes the extent the legal team at Toho Co. Ltd will go to protect the name ‘Godzilla.’

Toho has gone after Honda, a Napa Valley vineyard who produced ‘Cabzilla,’ and a stupidly-named rock band. Similarly, Warner Bros had to pay Toho after the release of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which contained a couple of scenes using Godzilla as a generic monster. Not generic at all, as it turned out. And, remember that recent Subway commercial about the $5 foot-long subs? It contained a segment using Godzilla-like creature. They got nailed, and have since removed it from the ad.

From the article:

“As a trademark owner, one of the requirements is to police your mark to ensure that it does not become generic, that it does not become a common word for any fire-breathing monster,” says Aaron Moss, a Toho attorney in Los Angeles. “If you don’t, the trademark becomes devalued and hard to enforce.”

Entirely reasonable. However, Toho does seem to be somewhat selective in regards to whom they pursue. For example, the Firefox browser is made by a non-profit organization called Mozilla. So far, Toho has ignored them, probably because Mozilla is not trading on the name ‘Godzilla’ for profit.

So the rule of thumb seems to be don’t mess with Godzilla; he’s 50 storys high, breathes fire, and has incredibly effective IP lawyers at his command. 

Now, where did I put my Mothra-matic Giant Fan?

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