Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Marketing Japan: Godzilla Lawyers Sue Maine Restaurant! True!

By Mike in Tokyo Rogers

Well, the way this has been going recently in the last few days, you'd think that this blog was about Japanese monster movies or pop culture instead of marketing.

Well, here's one for you that is absolutely true and I have the links to prove it:

Lawyer's for Toho Cinema, representing Godzilla, are threatening a restaurant in Maine with civil suit. The name of the restaurant is "Grill Zilla BBQ" and it is located in Damariscotta in Maine in the USA.

The restaurant has a mascot that looks like a your average cartoon dinosaur (T-Rex) wearing an apron and the motto is: "BBQ so good, it is scary!"

Owners of Grill Zilla BBQ stand next to their cool sign

I, for one, don't see any problems here with the mascot. But the mascot with "Zilla" is sure to set off a lawyer. But, of course, when you get a roomful of anal-retentive lawyers involved they've just got to sue somebody about something!

Read this from the original article stating the plantiff demands:

Either way, the lawyers for Toho Co. Ltd., a Japanese entertainment conglomerate that owns the rights to the 56-year-old movie icon Godzilla, recently took a long look at Grill Zilla BBQ and saw trademark infringement.
"Toho is concerned that your use of this character along with a name and mark which incorporate a portion of our client's famous GODZILLA mark will cause consumers to believe that there is some association with, authorization by or sponsorship by our client," wrote Jill A. Jacobs, an attorney with the Los Angeles firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP, in a letter to Swett and Burnham last March.
She was just warming up.
Jacobs wet on to request that Swett and Burnham not only deep-six their green mascot, but also stop using the name Grill Zilla "in connection with any 'lizard-like' or 'reptile-like' monsters or other monster designs or references to monsters or with any imagery or character depicted in a manner similar to the way in which Toho has depicted the GODZILLA character in its films."
Had enough? Sorry, there's more.
Lest Grill Zilla's owners not quite grasp what she's talking about, Jacobs went on the explain that Toho doesn't want to look halfway around the world to the coast of Maine and see "a colossal character; in a cityscape with the character crushing or stomping on the city, buildings, cars, people, etc.; in any other setting where the character destroys cities, villages, or mountains; where the character breathes atomic fire; or where the character emerges from the ocean, water, etc."
There is one part of the article that is amusing:. It's the restaurant owners comments on the long winded letter from the lawyer:  
Noted Swett as he reviewed the letter for the umpteenth time Friday, "She's probably getting paid by the word."
Now, you might think that Toho would be embarrassed by all this. But not so. This is not the first time they got all huffy about Godzilla...

Cool merchandise!

Remember Japanese baseball star Hideki Matsui who played for the New York Yankees and had the nikname "Godzilla"? Yep. Toho couldn't get people to stop using the nickname, but they were successful in stopping all sales of any items related to Matsui that had any sort of resemblance to any dinosaurs. Now those Matsui bobbleheads with godzillas body are quite expensive on E-bay! Maybe the Grill Zilla T-Shirts and goods will be the same!
So, I guess the barbeque restaurant might have to change their name... I can't see where Toho has a leg to stand on with the restaurant using a cartoon dinosaur as a mascot, but the name Grill Zilla might be construed as too close to Godzilla.... 
How about Zill Gorilla? Or Grill Gorilla? And use a giant ape like King Kong?

At least it is good to see the owners of the restaurant using this as the great promotion that it is for their establishment's benefit!

See Grill Zilla homepage here. http://www.grillzillabbq.com/
Keywords: Marketing Japan, Mike Rogers, Mike in Tokyo Rogers, Toho, Godzilla, Japan, Barbeque, BBQ, 


Anonymous said...

It would be nice for those same lawyers to sue Disney for ripping off "Jungle Taisen Leo". The Lion King was a complete copy.

Or how about the lawyers suing American Idol for ripping off "Asayan".

It's been happening for so many years, I'm happy to see that they're finally growing a pair, even if it's with some small time outfit...

salil said...

How about Junglee and Yahoo and now Google!!
How about while we at it the Ford Model T's...
Capitalism in the 20's began with the Russian revolution and the overthrow of the czar.
Later the decline of the British empire, later again the break up of the Soviet system, and now the decline of the capitalist system.....

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