A few weeks ago, I saw the movie Deadpool which I enjoyed very much. To my great surprise and delight, the character “Deadpool” was having a conversation with another character where they referenced “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” having been protected by the “Lionbots” taking him over. The implied statement was that Voltron was protected from being ripped off by the Lionbots, a cheap knockoff of Voltron.
Just to put this in perspective, my firm represented Universal Studios which owned the copyright to Voltron: Defender of the Universe, which was one of the very popular Transformer action figures. Going back to the Transformers, one of them was in the shape of a lion, and if you moved certain parts, it turned into the action figure Voltron, and Voltron could also morph into the shape of a lion.
Back in the ‘80s, we brought a lawsuit against the manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and distributers of Lionbot for unfair competition, copyright infringement and a host of other violations of laws protecting rights in artistic ventures. Lionbot, a Chinese manufactured product, was then being sold for $49.99, while Voltron was being sold for $99.99.
Our investigators provided us with all the names of toy companies in downtown Los Angeles that might be selling Lionbot and we sued all of these companies. Then we obtained a confidential writ of seizure alleging irreparable harm would be done to Voltron if we did not seize all of the counterfeit “Voltrons,” i.e. Lionbots. A federal judge issued the writ of seizure, which enabled the U.S. Marshals to seize all of the Lionbots that could be found. However, before they could get to the last defendants, all of the remaining Lionbots disappeared.
With the copyright that Universal obtained more than 35 years ago, it is still protecting all the subsequent versions of Voltron. As you can see in the movie Deadpool, the fact that this story is still being told shows how important it is to get a copyright, and when that copyright is abused, hiring attorneys like my firm to protect that copyright. Imagine how differently it could have turned out if Universal had not gotten Voltron copyrighted!
In another case, my firm effectively sued Holland America Cruise Lines on behalf of Universal Studios for allowing passengers free access to view their movies without paying to watch them. Whether something is an artistic or a business creation, it is essential to protect it because there are so many people who will try to make money off other’s efforts and without a copyright in place, your ability to protect your creation is severely limited. In the case of Voltron: Defender of the Universe, Universal is still making money from this copyright, which has morphed into many commercially – successful artistic ventures.
If someone has a concern about unfair competition with a product that is copyrighted, I can help you. Please contact me so that I can act on your behalf and shut down the competition.