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Licensing Law

Retail & Legal Tracker

U.S. retailers are stocking up on merchandise in advance of potential tariffs on Chinese imports, according to the National Retail Federation’s latest monthly Global Tracker report. The number of cargo containers to be received at U.S. ports that are forecasted for July and August would each set new records for the number of containers imported in a single month; the first half of 2018 is expected to total 10.4 million 20-foot containers (or equivalent), an increase of 5.8% over the first half of 2017.

According to the NPD, U.S. toy sales really picked up in the first 14 weeks of 2018—up 13% compared to the same time period last year. The fastest-growing categories were youth electronics (WowWee’s Fingerlings), dolls (MGA Entertainment’s L.O.L. Surprise!) and other toys like slow-rise squish-ables.

The firm estimates that Toys “R” Us liquidation sales contributed an extra $180 million to expected toy sales, but that the ultimate net impact on holiday sales would be less than 1% of sales.

In a poll by CivicScience on behalf of NPD, 56% of Americans who purchased a gift at TRU during its liquidation sales gifted it immediately, with the rest waiting for a birthday or some other special occasion to hit.

Peanuts at Home in Japan

DHX Media and Sony Music Entertainment Japan (SMEJ) enter into a definitive agreement whereby SMEJ will indirectly purchase 49% of DHX Media’s 80% interest in Peanuts for C$237 million ($185 million) in cash. At the transaction’s close on or about June 30, 2018, DHX Media will own 41% of Peanuts, SMEJ will own 39%, and the members of the family of Charles M. Schulz will continue to own 20%.

In addition, the two companies agree to extend their current licensing and syndication agreement in Japan with SMEJ’s consumer products division, Sony Creative Products. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Peanuts’ launch in Japan; the business has grown over 200% since Sony became Peanuts’ Japanese agent in 2010.

DHX Media intends to use the net proceeds from the transaction after the payment of transaction costs to reduce its indebtedness under its term credit facility.

Fashion Fight

Burberry is taking on Target in an $8 million-plus trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit filed in a New York federal court. According to the suit, Target has been selling products bearing “blatant reproductions” of Burberry’s world famous check trademark including scarves, eyewear, luggage, and water bottles.

Interestingly, Burberry is arguing that Target’s history of collaborations with collaborations with high fashion brands such as Victoria Beckham and Missoni make it more likely that its alleged infringement would result in “consumer confusion” (a key element in trademark infringement analysis) because Target customers would be more likely to think that Burberry approved the goods. Burberry Limited (UK) v. Target Corporation, 1:2018-cv-03946 (SDNY).

Pow! You’re Out

Stan Lee files suit against Pow! Entertainment, a company with which he’s been associated since the early 2000s, as well as executives Gill Champion and Shane Duffy. He is alleging that the company forged or otherwise fraudulently obtained exclusive rights to Lee’s name, image, and likeness and is seeking $1 billion in damages.

The suit details Lee’s long history of granting non-exclusive rights to his name and argues that he never would have signed away exclusive rights if he knew what he was signing. Lee, who is legally blind from advanced macular degeneration, normally has documents read to him before signing and was never read any exclusive rights agreement to his name and likeness, the suit alleges.

Pow! also took control of Lee’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts without his permission, according to the suit. Lee’s suit also alleges that he never approved of the sale of Pow! assets to Camsing Intl. Holding last year; Lee is currently being sued by Pow! shareholders over the deal.

Software Solutions

Dependable Solutions (DSI) secures a new partnership with Authentic Vision to extend protection services for clients. Licensing, creative and royalty services from DSI give brands, agents, and licenses automation solutions for their business processes while Authentic Vision utilizes authentication and tracking technology to secure IP and licensed goods.

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