Tsuburaya wins ‘Ultraman’ battle

Court rules in favor of company

TOKYO — Thailand’s Supreme Court has ruled for Japan’s Tsuburaya Prods. in its 10-year suit against a local businessman who claimed to have rights to its iconic and highly lucrative “Ultraman” sci-fi franchise.

On Tuesday Sompote Saengduenchai was ordered to pay a 10.7 million baht ($350,000) fine plus 7.5% interest per year starting from Dec. 16, 1997, when the original lawsuit was filed. He was also ordered to quit the “Ultraman” biz within 30 days.

Saengduenchai, who claimed he co-created the character, said he signed a deal with Tsuburaya in 1976 giving him rights to “Ultraman” outside Japan. As chairman of Tsuburaya Chaiyo, he has been profiting from merchandising and royalties.

Tsuburaya Prods. filed a suit in Thai copyright court against Saengduenchai in 1997 and challenged a 2000 court ruling that backed Saengduenchai’s claim while conceding Tsuburaya Prods.’ ownership of the franchise.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which found Saengduenchai’s contract to be invalid and ruled that he did not co-create the character.  

“Ultraman” began life as a 1966 live-action show in which Ultraman and his family from the M-78 nebula battled aliens intent on harming humanity. The original show has since spawned TV follow-ups, toon series and theatrical features.

Popular on Variety

More Biz


    WWE's 'NXT' Moves to USA Network as Wrestling Competition Heats Up

    WWE has struck a deal to move its “NXT” franchise focusing on rising stars to USA Network starting next month. “NXT” will shift to USA from the WWE Network subscription streaming service as of Sept. 18. The deal comes as USA is about to lose WWE’s “SmackDown” showcase to Fox starting in October. USA is [...]

  • Shazam

    Apple Music Launches 'Shazam Discovery' Chart, Focused on New Artists

    Apple Music today launched the “Shazam Discovery Top 50,” a weekly, global ranking of 50 artists that it describes as “on the move and trending” — in other words, new and emerging artists. While the company wouldn’t say much specifically about how the chart is tabulated, it uses “Shazam’s proprietary algorithms [to offer] a unique predictive view [...]

  • The Chainsmokers Production Company

    Chainsmokers’ Catalog Acquired by Fast-Growing Hipgnosis Songs

    The Chainsmokers’ writer and publishing rights have been acquired by the fast-growing Hipgnosis Songs and its investment adviser, The Family (Music) Limited, for an undisclosed amount, the company announced today. The company has acquired 100% of the Chainsmokers’ interest in 32 of the duo’s songs, including ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) income in [...]

  • Hollywood Recession Business Placeholder

    How an Economic Downturn Could Ravage Hollywood

    Trade-war fears, stock market volatility and, most recently, bond market signals that point to a pending recession are rattling investors, igniting concerns that another devastating downturn may be just around the corner. As those worries reverberate all the way from Wall Street to Hollywood, the entertainment industry is in for an unsettling reminder of the [...]

  • RuPaul Charles - Outstanding Reality -

    RuPaul Charles to Receive Variety's Vanguard Award at Mipcom

    “RuPaul’s Drag Race” leader RuPaul Charles has been tapped to receive the Variety Vanguard Award at the Mipcom international TV sales conference, set for Oct. 14-17 in Cannes. The award recognizes television industry leaders who have made a significant contribution to the global business of entertainment. Charles has hosted and executive produced the VH1 franchise “RuPaul’s Drag [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    Chinese Streamer iQIYI Squeezed by Changing Content Context

    Chinese video streaming giant iQIYI saw its losses deepen, in the April to June second quarter of its financial year. The company grew subscriptions, but was hit by rising content costs and lower advertising revenue Its parent company, Chinese search leader, Baidu saw its year on year profits drop, though it recovered from loss in [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Music Says ‘Many’ Suing Artists’ Masters Were Not Damaged in 2008 Fire

    UPDATED: Late Friday the attorneys representing Soundgarden, Steve Earle and the estates of Tom Petty and Tupac amended their lawsuit against Universal Music Group over damages to their music archives as a result of a 2008 fire. While most of the amended complaint updated details in the original document — adding information about UMG’s alleged [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content