Thread after that one: April 2009-August 2009
Thread after Thread after that one but before The last one: August 2009-October 2009
The last one: October 2009 - January 2010
On October 1st, 1982, Tatsunoko Productions asked for and received the worldwide (excluding Japan) film distribution and merchandising rights from Big West as compensation for their animation assistance with SDF Macross. On January 15th, 1984, Harmony Gold licensed, and later acquired, these same film distribution and merchandising rights from Tatsunoko. However, the intellectual property rights for SDF Macross still resides with Big West. What this means is that Harmony Gold can legally distribute the SDF Macross footage outside of Japan (ie: the AnimEigo and ADV Macross DVD's) and edit the footage at their discretion (ie: Robotech). However, they cannot create any new animation or movies using the SDF Macross characters and mecha because they do not have the intellectual property rights. Comic books and videogames are excluded as these fall under the category of merchandising rights.
Macross: Do You Remember Love
Harmony Gold also has the worldwide (excluding Japan) merchandising rights to Macross: Do You Remember Love. However, they do not have the film distribution rights nor the intellectual property rights to this movie. What this means is that Harmony Gold can legally license the distribution of DYRL merchandise (ie: Toynami's DYRL Super Posable toys) worldwide (excluding Japan). However, Harmony Gold cannot release DYRL on video, nor can they create any new animation or movies using the DYRL characters and mecha. Comic books and videogames are excluded as these fall under the category of merchandising rights.
On a related note, in 1988, Celebrity's Just For Kids released DYRL (as 'Macross in Clash of the Bionoids') in the USA under a license from Toho International Co. Ltd. In 1995, Best Film & Video Corp. released DYRL (as 'Superdimensional Fortress Macross') in the USA under a license from Big West. At Anime Central 2001, Robert Woodhead (of AnimEigo) was asked about DYRL and he said that nobody knows who owns the worldwide (excluding Japan) film distribution rights anymore.
Macross II, Macross Plus and Macross 7 Trash
The film distribution rights for Macross II and Macross Plus were licensed from Big West, by U.S. Renditions (1992) and Manga Entertainment (1995), for release in the USA without any involvement from Harmony Gold. Likewise, Macross 7 Trash was licensed from Big West, by GlÚnat (1998), for release in France without any involvement from Harmony Gold. In 2003, Tokyopop announced that they would release Macross 7 Trash in the USA under a license from Harmony Gold, however, the manga was never published and no official explanation was given.
Harmony Gold said that they were not involved with Macross II and Macross Plus because "no one was minding the store" at that time (source needed). The subsequent Tokyo District Court ruling determined that Tatsunoko Productions (and by extension Harmony Gold) did not have any copyrights to the Macross derivatives (ie: Macross II, Macross Plus), thereby rendering the "no one was minding the store" explanation moot.
The rest of the series
As for the rest of the Macross series (ie: Frontier, 7, et al), Harmony Gold only has certain rights to these. In 1999 and 2002, Harmony Gold tradedmarked the name 'Macross' in the USA, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. What this means is that any series and merchandising featuring the 'Macross' trademark would have to compensate Harmony Gold for the use of that trademark in those respective countries. Harmony Gold also trademarked 'U.N. Spacy' in the USA and Canada. In the European Union, 'U.N. Spacy' was trademarked in November 2007 and is held by Yugenkaisya Suneast trading (aka Suneast Co.Ltd) from Tokyo, Japan.*
This is just my understanding of the current legal situation. It may not be 100% accurate, so any corrections are welcome.
Harmony Gold et al v. FASA Corporation et al, 1996 WL 332689 (N.D.Ill.): http://terrania.us/hg-fasa/
Macross 7 Trash published in France by GlÚnat - http://www.macrosswo...?...st&p=732684
“Fun at Acen” - http://groups.google...27c03d7fffd14ff
“Tatsunoko Wins Macross Lawsuit” - http://www.animenews...macross-lawsuit
“Macross Lawsuit” - http://www.animenews...macross-lawsuit
Big West statement - http://web.archive.o...ents/index.html
Loo, E.:”Separated at Birth”, Animerica, 2003, Vol.11, No.1, p. 47
"Tokyopop to Publish Macross 7 Trash Manga" - http://www.animenews...s-7-trash-manga
Tom Bateman states that Harmony Gold acquired DYRL merchandising rights - http://www.robotech....mp;pagenumber=3
Canada trademark filing - http://www.ic.gc.ca/...ntIndexOnPage=1
United Kingdom trademark filing - http://www.ipo.gov.u...sticnum=2204547
European Union trademark filing - http://oami.europa.e...1/003853926.htm
United States, Germany and Spain trademark filing - These websites do not allow direct linking and must be searched manually.
*A huge thanks to Bri for getting the trademark information!
25 February 2002 Ruling (Studio Nue owns the 41 disputed designs)
02 October 2002 Appeal (Tatsunoko's appeal of the above - rejected)
20 January 2003 Ruling (Tatsunoko owns economic rights to Ep1-36) (Dug up for me by Talos)
25 September 2003 Appeal (Studio Nue's appeal of the above - rejected)
01 July 2004 Ruling (Tatsunoko's demand for restitution against Big West & Bandai - rejected)
27 October 2005 Appeal (Tatsunoko's appeal of the above - rejected)