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6259Ruling may halt Ultraman TV series

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  • bermudezinc
    Apr 12, 2007
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      The Intellectual Property Court's ruling on April 2 may abruptly
      suspend the highly anticipated Ultraman TV series, which is a spin-
      off from the original Japanese action-hero character, because the new
      Ultraman characters are deemed to be a copyright infringement.
      Chaiyo Productions, a local company which produced the big-budget TV
      series, may be forced to cancel the screening of the 52-episode
      Ultraman series, called "Project Ultraman", starring Hong Kong actor
      Ekin Cheng.

      Production of the series, costing Bt150 million, is complete, and it
      is scheduled to be aired on Channel 7 in the next few months. Chaiyo
      Productions also expects the new Ultraman series to generate more
      than Bt600 million in revenue from advertising and sponsorship
      throughout the region. The company is also exploring other potential
      international markets. Hundreds of millions of baht more are expected
      to be generated from sub-licensing the Ultraman characters to
      manufacturers of toys and merchandise in many markets around the

      The Thai IP Court ruled that Sompote Sangduenchai and his production
      house Chaiyo Productions could not claim the rights for Ultraman
      products except for nine Ultraman movies that Sompote co-produced
      many years ago. The ruling was made in response to a complaint made
      by Tsuburaya Productions, the Japanese license-holder of the Ultraman

      Moreover, the court said that Sompote could not claim the copyrights
      of new Ultraman characters created by Tsuburaya Productions and could
      not distribute Ultraman Millennium, Dark Ultraman and Ultraman Elite
      created by Chaiyo.

      Sompote and his companies have one month in which to appeal the IP
      Court's ruling.

      Apart from the TV series, Sompote and his companies have sold the
      rights for the new Ultraman characters to several companies which
      produce related merchandise.

      RSi Dream Entertainment, the company's event-organising subsidiary,
      signed a con-

      tract yesterday with Chaiyo Productions for five-year exclusive
      marketing rights for its "Project Ultraman" 52-episode television
      series in Thailand and some neighbouring countries. "We have to cease
      all of our activities and wait to see how Khun Sompote clears the
      issue with the Japanese license-holder," RSi Dream Entertainment
      managing director Boonperm Intanapasat said.

      "Luckily, we haven't spent a big budget promoting the series," he

      Rsi Dream Entertainment planned to generate between Bt60 million and
      Bt70 million from the Ultraman series, showbiz productions,
      sponsorships, home video and marketing events in the first year.

      A legal advisor to Apex Toys, a local toy-maker which has been
      awarded the right by Chaiyo Productions to manufacture and distribute
      toys and merchandise of the new Ultraman characters, said that the
      company had yet to receive any details from Chaiyo about their legal

      "The dust has yet to settle," he said. "We need to wait for a final
      solution as the case is just at the Court of First Instance stage and
      may be passed on to Appeals and finally the Supreme Court."

      Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn

      The Nation