So Harmony Gold has decided to file a lawsuit against Hasbro...Harmony Gold Sues Hasbro
Currently Harmony Gold is in possession of distribution and merchandising rights for Macross which they used (along with Southern Cross, and Mospedia to make Robotech, and Megazone 21 for Robotech the movie)
These rights were acquired in the early 80s from Tatsunoko, who in conjunction with Studio Nue created Macross.
At the same time FASA acquired rights to use designs from Macross from Studio Nue (along with Crusher Joe, and Dougram from their respective owners)
Harmony Gold went and then copyrighted Macross, and all derivitives as their Intellectual Property in the United States.
The problems started in 1996 when FASA filed a lawsuit against playmates over toy designs for some of the mecha used in the TV show Exo Squad (namely the Heavy Attack E-Frame looking like the Madcat). This lead to Harmony Gold filing a lawsuit against FASA which was eventually settled out of court and sealed (sorry we do not get to know all the details of the settlement) at which point FASA retired the designs which are now known as the unseen.
As late as 2004 legal battles between Tatsunoko and Studio Nue it was ruled that Tatsunoku does own the production rights to the original Superdimensional Macross, but Studio Nue owns the intellectual property to character and mecha designs.
This covers only the original Macross series, but via Harmony Gold's current copyright in the US they still own IP rights to anything Macross, including all things based off the series and sequels. (This is why the last Macross series released in the US was Macross Plus in 1995 by Manga Entertainment, and the newer series have not been picked up, and most likely will not)
The key issue is Studio Nue has been ruled to own the IP rights and those were not legally sold to Harmony Gold with distribution rights (Tatsunoko does have the ability to do distribution rights).
Via the Bern Convention (which both the United States, and Japan are signers) signatory nations respect copyright and IP rights of other countries. (This is why Japanese companies may issue takedown notices on videos that would otherwise fall under fair use in the US)
The current bit of beef between Harmony Gold and Hasbro also stems from this and how they copyrighted all derivitive works of Macross as IP.
In the mid 80s Transformers introduced Skyfire (Jetfire for the TV series) the Toy was a VF1 veritech Valkyrie (early models even had the UN Spacey logo) but the character in the TV show was a radically different design, with only the fast pack boosters and laser rifle being relatively similar. Later series have also used the character with different designs for the character so as not to violate copyright, as well as make sure the character meshed well with other series designs. For Comic Con they did a special GI Joe Skystriker version which like the Skystriker was based off the design of the F-14 Tomcat (same as the original VF-1) complete with a modified fast pack booster. This does make it similar to the VF-1 with a few distinct differences.forums.yojoe.com/attachments/n…
As you can see they added some extra wings to the fast pack, as well as adding a cockpit to it.
This is merely a slightly modified Skystriker, with a custom decal set, and does not even transform
This should meet precedent set in the fight between Vanilla Ice and Queen over the sampling of Under Pressure for Ice Ice Baby in regards to changes made (see also mustache on the mona lisa)
What Harmony Gold is asking for in their lawsuit is also quite egotistical. They are asking for an injunction to prevent the sale of any remaining stock of the Skystriker, as well as a recall to retrieve all the copies that have been sold. They also seek to have any version of Skyfire (Jetfire) that do not possibly infringe on their copyrights barred from sale (this includes among other designs the one from Transformers Revenge of the Fallen where the vehicle mode is a SR-71 Blackbird) as those are derivitives of the original character toy.