Sep 10, 2013 1:37 PM by AP, PHOTO: NOLA.COM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Japanese company that produced the classic Godzilla series of movies has sued a New Orleans brewery, claiming the MechaHopzilla beer brand infringes on its Mechagodzilla copyrights and trademarks.
The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans by Toho Co. Ltd. includes photographs of the Mechagodzilla character Toho introduced in 1974 and a beer can produced by New Orleans Lager & Ale Brewing Co. LLC, known as NOLA Brewing.
The suit says NOLA Brewing did not get permission from or pay Toho to use Mechagodzilla, a trademarked character used in five movies starting with "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" in 1974.
"The Mechagodzilla character is Godzilla's mechanical 'doppelganger,' a large two-footed reptilian creature with a powerful swooping tail and a robot-like appearance," and MechaHopzilla is very similar, according to the lawsuit.
Brewery president and CEO Kirk Coco said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he has not been served with it.
He said his company applied for a trademark when the beer went on sale last September and has been waiting for a response.
"I'd never even heard of Toho Incorporated until they filed their opposition against our trademark application," he said.
The beer label features an art deco-style mechanical monster leaning against a skyscraper about half its size.
The back of the can describes the brew as a "Hop Monster" and states, "Not for the faint of heart or palate. Hop heads, this one's for you!"
Toho has produced more than 25 movies featuring Godzilla since an atomic bomb first brought the original prehistoric monster to life in the 1954 film released in the United States two years later as "Godzilla, King of the Monsters." Many of the later movies featured Godzilla saving the world against other monsters.
Those featuring the robot created by the fantasy alien Simians from Planet 3 were "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla," ''Terror of Mechagodzilla," ''Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II," ''Godzilla X Mechagodzilla" and "Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla Tokyo S.O.S."
The lawsuit asserts that NOLA Brewing is using MechaHopzilla "to take advantage of the goodwill and public familiarity with the Mechagodzilla Character, and to create an association in the minds of customers that its product is somehow affiliated with, or sponsored, endorsed or sanctioned by, Toho."
The lawsuit said images of NOLA's MechaHopzilla cans have been featured on its website and Facebook page, and on other websites discussing or reviewing the design.
It says NOLA Brewing should pay "wrongfully obtained profits" from the beer, triple damages to Toho, and attorneys' fees.
Toho also asks for court orders forbidding NOLA Brewing to use the MechaHopzilla character "or any confusingly similar variations" and barring the brewery from getting it trademarked.