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Stomping on the little guy.
August 13, 2002 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Stomping on the little guy. Popular weblogger Davezilla has been handed a cease and desist from Toho Co., Ltd, owner of the Godzilla trademark. The text of the C&D implies that they own the rights to any word ending in the letters "zilla". [more inside]
posted by y6y6y6 (106 comments total)

 
I am seriously f'ing PO'd about this. While I understand they need to protect themselves from delusion, this is just stupid. His site is currently being slashdotted, but here's his post about this:

[Blog] - Davezilla @ 07:07:43 pm

re: DAVEZILLA.COM
Dear Mr. Linabury:

We represent Toho Co., Ltd ("Toho") in intellectual property matters. Toho is the owner of all rights in and to the trademark and service mark GODZILLA and the GODZILLA characters. In addition, the name "GODZILLA" and the likeness of Toho’s GODZILLA character are federally registered trademarks belonging to Toho. Copies of Toho’s U.S. Registrations for GODZILLA and the GODZILLA character image are enclosed.

[Omitted long, dull paragraph about the history of Toho...]

It has come to our attention that you have incorporated the "ZILLA" portion of our client’s GODZILLA marks in the name of your "DAVEZILLA.COM" domain name, and that you have included a "reptile-like" character as well as a "monster-like" character, which you refer to as "GODZILLA", on your website accesible through "DAVEZILLA.COM." Please be advised that your use of the GODZILLA mark constitutes a trademark infringement and confuses consumers and the public into believing that your "GODZILLA" character originates from Toho, which it does not. Moreover, your use of the "ZILLA" formative along with imagery associated with GODZILLA is likely to cause the users of your site to believe that the "DAVEZILLA.COM" website is either associated with, authorized by, or sponsored by our client, and demonstrates an attempt by you to trade on the goodwill built up by our client. As such, we request that you remove the objectionable imagery and reference to GODZILLA from your website to eliminate any likelihood of confusion and posibility of an inaccurate affiliation with Toho and GODZILLA.

We look forward to receiving your prompt reply, with a statement of your intentions, no later than August 16, 2002. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Very truly yours,
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2002


Oops..... Got cut off.....

[...]

SEYFARTH SHAW

Jill A. Jacobs

Wow. Guess the little dragon at the top has to go bye-bye. At least they are letting me keep the domain name. A few inaccuracies: I have, until today, never mentioned Godzilla, nor do I have any imagery of him on this site. Nor do I refer to my logo as Godzilla. It’s always been, "That little dragon guy." Could have been a lot worse. Expect a new no changes to the banner and changes a tweak to the colophon. I’m not giving in.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2002


What about Mozilla?
posted by insomnyuk at 1:34 PM on August 13, 2002


Since they have not acted against Mozilla, which is a much more visible 'infringement', as well as having a bigger potential for dillution, I'm not sure they can sustain a case unless they sue AOL, as well.
posted by rich at 1:34 PM on August 13, 2002


Varying the joke I used on slashdot:

Why doesn't he just change the name to Davejira? that should fix every-

Oh.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:39 PM on August 13, 2002


ok. in harmony with my avowed new attitude and pledge to myself not to spew rage on mefi, i'll just say this: fucking bastards.
posted by quonsar at 1:42 PM on August 13, 2002


Some on the slashdot board think the idea is "go after the little guy first and get the precedent set" before challenging Mozilla which makes legal sense.

The thing I hate about this is it's my understanding that if companies do not pursue what can be percieved as copyright dilution that they can lose claim to the copyright (can someone more law savvy confirm/clarify this?) Which means that companies are required to crack down on percieved infringements in order to maintain their copyright.
posted by bitdamaged at 1:44 PM on August 13, 2002


what? you mean davezilla.com is not related to my favorite company Toho Co., Ltd?!? holy shit. all this time my goodwill towards Toho Co., Ltd has been misdirected at davezilla.com!

i love Toho Co.!

eldred.cc
posted by rhyax at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2002


I think the idea is that they sue little guy first and win that case, to set precedent for Mozilla.
posted by geoff. at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2002


How to violate someone's trademark:

1. Take their trademarked word and change it a little bit.

2. Take their associated logo or image and change it a little bit.

3. Use as your "trademark".

Sometimes the little guys really get screwed. This may be a case of overreaction but if you don't want to get into a trademark battle then make up your own name, don't start with someone else's mark and then modify it. There's also a question of over-broadness but didn't they basically invent this -illa ending? And besides, it's pretty easy to tell if someone is copying / modifying or not. If your name is McHenry's you're ok (or whatever the tabasco people's name is). If your name is McRonald's and you use a single arch then you're going to lose.
posted by Wood at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2002


While I understand they need to protect themselves from delusion

In typos, truth.
posted by bradlands at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2002


D'oh, too late, I need to not leave preview up and forget about it.
posted by geoff. at 1:46 PM on August 13, 2002


what if bloggers organized a "BLOGZILLA MONTH" in which every blogger obtained and displayed on the page a giant rendition of the fabled monster? could they sue everyone? wouldn't the publicity shut them up?

i think i'm going to send THEM a letter telling them i represent god and it has come to my attention that they have incorporated his trademark in the name of thier stupid little lizard!
posted by quonsar at 1:47 PM on August 13, 2002


What Quonsar said. To the Second power.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:48 PM on August 13, 2002


So what about all them fake designer sunglasses that you see at the mall kiosks? [supersmall print]these glasses re designed to resemble[/supersmall print] Tommy Hilfigger! That, if you ask me, is an example of someone making a living directly off a trademark, whereas to go after a harmless weblog seems a little heavy-handed to me.
posted by adampsyche at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2002


Would the real Godzilla really go along with this? I think he's turning over in his trademark-protected grave. -Oh wait. I meant to say Godzollo, the non-infringing monster-like creature.
posted by D at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2002


Starting with you, Quonsarzilla?
posted by adampsyche at 1:50 PM on August 13, 2002


Anyone out there using the "God" portion of the Godzilla name, in conjunction with a "monster-like character", be warned.
posted by liam at 1:52 PM on August 13, 2002


glass 1/8th full view: the mere act of a cease and desist letter, apart from any outcome to a law suit, constitutes an effort to avoid dillution. So think of it as a Kabuki dance.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:54 PM on August 13, 2002


Actually, I think the 'illa' comes from the gilla monster, which I think was what influenced the 'Godzilla' name.. since didn't it start out as the more Japanese name of Gojira?
posted by rich at 1:55 PM on August 13, 2002


Isn't the suffix 'zilla' Japanese for lizard or something?

I got the impression it was a name created with some form of etomology, that being the case, one might be able to hold a claim to the combined word Godzilla, but neather of the two individual words.

Damn, I wish there was a church out there with the balls enough to serve Toho with a cease and desist for using the word, "God."
posted by KnitWit at 1:55 PM on August 13, 2002


I hope this doesn't affect Bullnanza.
posted by nagrommit at 1:56 PM on August 13, 2002


ahh...
posted by KnitWit at 1:56 PM on August 13, 2002


Why not just claim all words ending in a? Would generate a lot more work for the lawyers.
posted by Triplanetary at 1:57 PM on August 13, 2002


i think i'm going to send THEM a letter telling them i represent god and it has come to my attention that they have incorporated his trademark in the name of thier stupid little lizard!

And if that doesn't work, I'll take them to court telling them I represent radiation.
- Your company would be nothing without my client!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:57 PM on August 13, 2002


It's DAVEZILLA versus TOHO! No longer content with trashing Tokyo, the franchise moves into CYBERSPACE!!

Given that Dave's probably one of the better known bloggers, I would think that he could probably muster up some kind of web campaign, no?
posted by slipperywhenwet at 1:59 PM on August 13, 2002


If your name is McHenry's you're ok (or whatever the tabasco people's name is)

That'd be "McIlhenny" and It was named after the founder, Edmund McIlhenny, in 1868. Even McDonalds would get laughed out of court by that.
posted by shecky57 at 2:01 PM on August 13, 2002


"How to violate someone's trademark:"

1. So you seriously think anyone could mistake "Davezilla" for "Godzilla"? Really?
2. His logo looks like a robot to me.
3. And we can just screw fair use right? Corporation rule?

"In typos, truth."

Hee hee. That was funny. Sometimes not being able to spell is fun.

"what if bloggers organized a 'BLOGZILLA MONTH'"

I've already changed my masthead to JonZilla. I figure it has to cost them close to $1000 per C&D if people dig in their heels a little. How many Davezilla fans we have here? Maybe we can get them to spend $1,000,000 on lawyers who don't know the meaning of the term "bad PR".
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:02 PM on August 13, 2002


This is too surreal. Let's summon King Kong's lawyers for the giant monster court battle of the century.

But yeah, I'll throw up the graphics too.
posted by D at 2:06 PM on August 13, 2002


The real question is will the Vandals have to change their lyrics?
posted by dogwelder at 2:15 PM on August 13, 2002


1. Take their trademarked word and change it a little bit.

has no relationship to (that I can see)

1. So you seriously think anyone could mistake "Davezilla" for "Godzilla"? Really?

My point is simply that you shouldn't use other people's trademarks as a starting point for your own. Can I get a "duh"? Also, I'm pretty certain fair use doesn't apply. Sorry if I think that it's a term with a fairly specific meaning rather than some sort of catch-all.
posted by Wood at 2:18 PM on August 13, 2002


I just wonder which employee at Toho has enough free time to sit at his cubicle and read various blogs and then present this stunning name infringement case to his supervisor.
posted by wklang at 2:19 PM on August 13, 2002


Maybe they need the money?
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:25 PM on August 13, 2002


These folks are in trouble, then.

I can see where Toho is coming from. Really. But I still think it's a shitty position. Mozilla was the first thing that came to my mind - and no doubt, what was said above is likely the case for the future.

Nuclear paranoia, indeed.
posted by rocketman at 2:30 PM on August 13, 2002


And what about Phonezilla?
They're going to have a real problem supporting this, unless they go after everybody, no?
posted by Su at 2:36 PM on August 13, 2002


"Sorry if I think that it's a term with a fairly specific meaning rather than some sort of catch-all."

And what would that specific meaning be Mr Smartypants? I've spent a lot of time studying fair use. It's a huge grey area. Most books and articles come right out and say it must be decided on a case by case basis. In this case fair use may not apply. But your list will frequently lead to fair use rather than a derivative work.

And you can get all the duh?s you want, but unless we just decide to avoid doing anything that Big Media™ companies might disapprove of I'll continue poking them in the eye when they try to shit on individuals. WTF? Litigious absurdities *should* be the rule?

No thank you. If you want to live in a world where corporations cow us into never stepping on the cracks, then go for it. Safe is better right? Lawyers make the rules right? Screw that. I want to live in a world where the law derives from the people rather than the highest paid lawyers.

And if the world isn't like that? If I'm just tilting at windmills? Then why the hell wouldn't you join me?
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:38 PM on August 13, 2002


Does this all mean that Toho is having difficulty distinguishing "Dave" from "God"?
posted by kcmoryan at 2:52 PM on August 13, 2002


I'll join you as soon as I've got the chance to re-do my graphics... I can't pass up a chance like this.
posted by SpecialK at 2:55 PM on August 13, 2002


Not saying that the company is right, or that they should be doing this, but:

What else could he be referring to with "-zilla" and a "dragon-like logo"? So maybe I won't say "When Steve rants he is like a large overbearing monster' I might say "When Steve rants he turns in to 'Stevezilla'"

I do not think Toho Co has any right to tell Dave what he can and can't do, nor do I think that they have a right to "-zilla" it is part of the pop culture lexicon.

What I am saying, is that any one who want to belive that something is with a "dragon-like logo" and "-zilla" on the end of their name is not making a reference to Godzilla, is fooling themselves.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:57 PM on August 13, 2002


in the comments on the page on davezilla he says he's heard about toho doing this lately with stupid stuff and losing, so he's not going to change it. i don't have links.
posted by rhyax at 2:58 PM on August 13, 2002


In honor of this atrocity, a fitting tribute would be for the developers of the upcoming Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee video game to create a fully rendered Davezilla unlockable secret character. THEN we'll see who owns Tokyo, punk!
posted by robbie01 at 3:05 PM on August 13, 2002


A Chilling Effects poster case for sure...
posted by pberry at 3:09 PM on August 13, 2002


This may be a case of overreaction but if you don't want to get into a trademark battle then make up your own name, don't start with someone else's mark and then modify it
Every second night on the late show Dave Letterman is making jokes about bloombergzilla leaving for the weekend, because koch'ra is coming back into town.

For decades 'zilla has been used as a generic intensifier. Toho can't own that - it's become so common. Here on Metafilter we have Honkzilla (Lance), and Stavros quoting "Butt ugly. Super butt-ugly. Butt ugly super-zilla!". When my cat ("bad cat") wiggles his way into bed and he smells awful everyone would know what I meant had I called him a mere badzilla.

Godzilla is theirs, but 'zilla has taken on a life of it's own, and is now unstopable to all but Ferris Bueler.
posted by holloway at 3:10 PM on August 13, 2002


welp, quick and dirty, but it'll do for now.
posted by quonsar at 3:13 PM on August 13, 2002


Kleenex. Xerox. Go away, Toho.
posted by rushmc at 3:20 PM on August 13, 2002


*Heavy Sigh*

Guess when I get home tonight I'll try to work up a ZachsZilla graphic for my site. I've been meaning to update my front page anyway. Too many cobwebs.

For several years I've been developing a grudge against copyright law in general. I don't want to hate it, because it's designed to protect self-expression, but in recent years corporations and lawyers just use it to turn creativity into marketable quanities, like ideas were real estate.

It used to make me mad, then I made fun of it for awhile. Now it just makes me feel sad. And tired. And bored. Thank God no one owns the copyright on GodsMind. I'd be screwed.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:23 PM on August 13, 2002


i have the creative solution to this problem! Davezilla and others, read the following true story and learn from it:

(if i remember any of this incorrectly, feel free to correct me)

there is a swedish comic book character called "Arne And" (Arne Duck) which is clearly modeled on Donald Duck (image), except Arne is a failed poet who gets drunk all the time and pisses in the streets and tries to get laid.

one day the Disney corp. heard about this character, and their lawyers promptly sent the creator a letter along the same vein as the Davezilla letter.

the creator came up with a brilliant idea. over the next few pages that he published, he had Arne get plastic surgery to change his beak so that it looked more like a goose beak or something. it completely changed the look of the character, to the point where it definitely didn't look like Donald Duck. however, this new beak made Arne depressed and uncomfortable -- so he went to one of those stores that sell fake plastic poop and silly costumes etc, and purchased a duck's beak costume, which he attached to his head with a string in the back. the new fake beak just happens to look exactly like his old one -- but remember, this one is not actually HIS beak. he still has a goose beak so he is not infringing on the Disney character - he just happens to wear a fake duck beak 99% of the time (every now and then he lifts it so we can see he's still got the goose beak).

Disney backed down.
posted by edlundart at 3:29 PM on August 13, 2002


Therefore, Davezilla should get drunk all the time, piss in the streets, and try to get laid while wearing a fake duck beak.

Heaven.
posted by brownpau at 3:32 PM on August 13, 2002


Well, no, he should change the character temporarily and then gradually change it back, in narrative form, on top of his page where the character is right now. Kind of how Google changes their logo around for various holidays.
posted by edlundart at 3:34 PM on August 13, 2002


y'all invited to a party over at http://blortzilla.meepzorp.com!
posted by quonsar at 3:39 PM on August 13, 2002


Thank God no one owns the copyright on GodsMind. I'd be screwed.

i may be an athiest, but there's something poetic there ...
posted by damn yankee at 3:41 PM on August 13, 2002


It was a close call, but we were spared the wrath of Gogira!
posted by Chief Typist at 3:41 PM on August 13, 2002


[nitpick]
edlundart: His name was Arne Anka.
[/nitpick]
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:45 PM on August 13, 2002


Now I suppose Pud will file a similar suit as well.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:50 PM on August 13, 2002


soundofsuburbia, thanks, you're right. I quoted the Norwegian name for the same character.
posted by edlundart at 3:59 PM on August 13, 2002


Someone mentioned MoZilla, but there's also Go!Zilla and TrafficZilla both businesses which use dragon type critters and the "zilla" to make money. Also found a bunch of other "zilla" businesses using dragons and monsters as logos. Wonder it they m\plan to go after them all? I'd think they'd be more concerned about all the Godzilla fan sites that are using copyrighted photos and other materials on their sites rather than poor Dave.
posted by Orb at 4:12 PM on August 13, 2002


One of my best friends just got divorced, and we all refer to his ex as "WifeZilla". Think we could just get Toho to take her and go away? She'd be a fitting bride for Godzilla...I'm seeing movie magic in the making. :)
posted by dejah420 at 4:21 PM on August 13, 2002


I propose a new variant of the popular "Pig Latin" language in which we take the first letter of every word, add "zilla" to it and place it at the end of the word:

Ohotzilla anczilla lowbzilla emzilla.

Just and idea. Probably needs work.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:28 PM on August 13, 2002


slogan time!
metafilter: lowbzilla emzilla
posted by quonsar at 4:33 PM on August 13, 2002


May I add some thoughts [since this is about me]? Toho has set a precedent already: of losing these cases! Here is one from last year [they sued Sears over Bagzilla garbage bags and lost]. The same, lame tactics are being applied here.
I will win this. I did not change their trademark. My site is and always has been parody, which is hard to prosecute.
posted by Davezilla at 4:39 PM on August 13, 2002


I think he should call it McDavezilla and really go for broke.

And that Toho C and D letter would have been way cooler if they had threatened him with Mothra.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:45 PM on August 13, 2002


When it finished displaying this comment thread, my browser got so mad it crashed. Its name: Mozilla (Build ID 2002060805)
posted by rdone at 4:50 PM on August 13, 2002


any one who want to belive that something is with a "dragon-like logo" and "-zilla" on the end of their name is not making a reference to Godzilla, is fooling themselves.

Exactly - while Toho are certainly acting like a bunch of prize wankers, they are also doing what is required by law to protect their trademark by avoiding dilution. It is unlikely that they have any intention of pursuing further, but have to be seen to be taking action to avoid losing the trademark completely. Storm in a teacup, really. My opinion only and obviously not the popular one.
posted by dg at 4:53 PM on August 13, 2002


So, y6y6y6, I wouldn't say I've spent a lot of time researching this, but I try to pay attention. I thought fair use was a copyright issue, rather than a trademark issue? Basically that it didn't really apply to trademarks.

I think of myself as pretty pro-little-guy anti-big-corporation, but I find myself in a more middle ground in terms of trademarks. I guess I feel this way because (in my oh-so-limited) experience it's an area where you regularly see the little guy being an idiot. I'm not talking about Davezilla, just about my previous observations (e.g. KIllustrator and the lamentable free software tendency to just name their new program whatever the most common commerical name is with a GNU or a K or whatever in front of it).
posted by Wood at 4:56 PM on August 13, 2002


This is somehow appropriate here.
posted by Hildago at 4:56 PM on August 13, 2002


Have the guys from Blue Oyster Cult (wait for it) been contacted, (for those of you born in the eighties the song you are hearing on this website is called Godzilla, it was a big hit for them in the seventies.)
posted by buz46 at 4:56 PM on August 13, 2002


that geocities site is never gonna stay up if more than 5 people want to hear that. so, if you are REALLY DESPERATE to hear a really horrid midi of the boc's godzilla then click here.
posted by quonsar at 5:16 PM on August 13, 2002


I'm not really sure why everyone is so up in arms. Dave is on pretty solid legal ground as a parody (have you ever actually *read* his site before today. I mean, c'mon of course it's a parody) and, at best, this claim is specious. The trademark thing is moot, there is certainly no shortgage of little reptile guys and last I heard z- i- l- l- a were still letters.

This isn't a concerted effort to 'pick on the little guy,' it's just an example of ill-informed suits picking the wrong fight. Dave *will* win and a large vocal group of geeks will never look at a Godzilla movie in the same way.

Myself, I consider slashdot far more harmful. My piddly little personal site happens to be hosted on the same server as Davezilla... my piddly little personal site was pretty much hosed for most of the day.
posted by cedar at 5:20 PM on August 13, 2002


for those of you born in the eighties the song you are hearing on this website is called Godzilla, it was a big hit for them in the seventies

Yes, and when I saw them live in 1984 they had a huge G*dzilla monster that came out on stage and shot fog from it's mouth...and I think I still have permanent hearing damage from that night!
posted by RevGreg at 5:23 PM on August 13, 2002


Is it not generic parody that's protected, but parody of Godzilla while using the Godzilla name? I mean, you can't just name your site Godzilla and parody the early 90's Early Bird Show hosted by Russell Rooster... it has to be OnTopic, right?
posted by holloway at 5:29 PM on August 13, 2002


if you are REALLY DESPERATE to hear a really horrid midi of the boc's godzilla then click here.
It is pretty bad, but could not find a better version on the fly (third site down on google search "blue oyster cult godzilla") However, it is so bad that it's good. if you scroll down to his other sites, he has cheesy midi versions of other various and sundry "dinosaur" (no pun intended...ok pun intended) bands.
posted by buz46 at 5:46 PM on August 13, 2002


what if they know something we don't?

what if dave is God?

then dave=god
and davezilla=godzilla.

dave, i'm sorry i ever doubted you existed.
posted by th3ph17 at 5:50 PM on August 13, 2002


oh i didn't mean to criticize you buz46, by my definition, ALL midi's are horrid :-)
posted by quonsar at 5:50 PM on August 13, 2002


I mean, you can't just name your site Godzilla and parody the early 90's Early Bird Show hosted by Russell Rooster...

Sure you can. Parody has a long and storied history from Mark Twain, to Mad magazine all the way up to Saturday Night Live.

[insert that web talk thing for I'm not a lawyer]

All that matters is that it's *obviously* a parody. Nobody is going to confuse this web site with a Godzilla movie, nobody is going to confuse the Davezilla top header with Toho property. Intent counts and there is clearly no intentional misrepresentation here.
posted by cedar at 5:51 PM on August 13, 2002


"Basically that it didn't really apply to trademarks. "

Trademark laws specifically allow for fair use. Again, what "fair use" means is (literally) open to debate. Here's as good a discussion as I can find, and it's still very vague.

"they are also doing what is required by law to protect their trademark by avoiding dilution."

I agree. But doesn't that suck ass? The law *requires* that companies harass individuals who mean no harm and do no damage? I say we fight it. I say we complain. I say we don't stand for it. I would rather err on the side of free speech and fair use than on the side of media companies and their make-work lawyers.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:52 PM on August 13, 2002


Is it not generic parody that's protected, but parody of Godzilla while using the Godzilla name?

Exactly:

Parody

Not parody

Doesn't make the actions of Toho right, of course, but that would also depend on your point of view.

What they are really objecting to, I feel, is not the use of the letters "zilla" or the "dragon being", but the use of them together, which has a clear, if minor, link to their trademark. Does anyone really believe that the use of both of these on the website was not intended to draw a comparison to Godzilla?

Yes, people should object if they feel that Toho has gone too far in their actions. Just remember that they have a legal right to them, though and put yourself in their shoes. If you would be prepared to allow a trademark worth billions to be lost because you didn't send out a letter, complain away.
posted by dg at 6:11 PM on August 13, 2002


On second thought:
My pun falls flat b/c godzilla is not a dinosaur. He is, of course, an irradiated lizard....sorry.

I still find the cheesy music amusing.

Quonsar: no offense taken, your response was what I was aiming for...I knew it would be silly, fun, and annoying; (the song, not your response.) :-/)
posted by buz46 at 6:12 PM on August 13, 2002


The "zilla" containing my prefix is devoted to a Buick.

Check here (courtesy of quonzilla) for yours.
posted by buz46 at 7:03 PM on August 13, 2002


Just 'cause my girlfriend found this thread so damn funny, she made this.

Just thought i would share on her behalf. ;)
posted by quin at 7:17 PM on August 13, 2002


rich-

The word "Godzilla," "Gojira" in Japanese, is a compound of "gorilla" [gorilla] and "kujira" [whale].
posted by dfowler at 7:50 PM on August 13, 2002


This parody art work is public domain. Feel free to us it for anything you want. (please mirror it on your server though - mine is slow enough thank you)
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:00 PM on August 13, 2002


"use"

(drunk from the Photoshop, silly from the tequila)
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:03 PM on August 13, 2002


I'm sorry, but I'm with dg and others in the minority that say ToHo are in the right, basically.

Dave, there may be a European spider named zilla, and an Egyptian flower named zilla, but you have neither spider nor flower at the top of your page. You have a stylized dinosaur/irradiated lizard-like creature. I'm sure you were fully aware that you were making a connection to Godzilla. I think you're lucky that they're letting you keep the domain name, and you should comply with their wishes and change the logo.

They'll be in the right if they go after Mozilla, too. And CarZilla. And Go!Zilla. And anything else that is obviously making a connection to a giant radioactive creature that ToHo has worked to promote to the public.

I'm not saying people shouldn't have a right to reference pop culture. I just think that if you do, you should respect the originator's wishes if they ask you to change what you're doing with it.

When the Digital Divas sent Microsoft a cease and desist, people cheered. I was on the other side [self-link] then, too.



(And I'm posting here instead of your comments Dave to just do my part in calming your slashdotting..)
posted by SiW at 8:13 PM on August 13, 2002


As in the Sears "Bagzilla" case, Dave's use of "zilla" and the funky dinosaur is not threatening to confuse the trademark. In fact, the two instances look very similar, so I suspect precedent is on Dave's side.

Here's my worry: that by calling so much attention to this, we will in fact encourage Toho to fight much harder, and jeopardize our dear Dave.
posted by frykitty at 8:19 PM on August 13, 2002


Extract from a lawyer for 'X For Dummies' on parody having to be on topic:
I am in receipt of your March 22, 2002 letter regarding the above-referenced matter. While we are appreciative of your claims that your use of the FOR DUMMIES® trademarks and trade dress is for satirical purposes, this assertion does not mean that it is automatically fair and non-infringing. Parody or satire is literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule. However, unless the trademark or owner of the trademark is at least in part the target of the parody, your work does not qualify as fair use as a parody or satirical work in the legal sense. therefore, if you appropriate our FOR DUMMIES® trademarks and trade dress, not to parody our products or company, but only as a prominent means to satirize and poke fun at something or someone else in society, this does not qualify as fair use.
This was sent to Cleaning the Fucking Kitchen (previously titled 'Cleaning the Fucking Fridge for Dummies', probably). I think it's quite clear that this isn't anything to do with parody rights.

I doubt that Daves' use of the Davezilla name, figure or slogan poses any likelihood of confusing consumers by suggesting that the Dave's www.davezilla.com was made, sponsored or endorsed by Toho. It's not like Davezilla.com's many pages are immitation goods.

I hope Dave wins.
posted by holloway at 8:31 PM on August 13, 2002


I hope Dave wins.

So do I, even though I think he is in the wrong. Too many times, the little guy gets dumped on due to lack of resources.

There is every possibility, however, that Toho will now feel obliged to defend their actions further, instead of considering their defense of the trademark complete by sending the cease and desist letter. By raising a stink, people are effectively challenging their ownership of the 'zilla/dragon combination and forcing them to go into battle to prove ownership.

The issue is not one of confusing davezilla.com with anything, or imitation goods - it is that, if "X"zilla becomes a common term in English, it may no longer qualify as a trademark and Toho could be required to forfeit all rights to it.
posted by dg at 8:56 PM on August 13, 2002


Welcome to the Church of God-Zillah!
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:17 PM on August 13, 2002


This is why I think the notion that you can legally copyright ideas and keep others from using them is patently ludicrous. (pardon the pun)
posted by insomnyuk at 11:16 PM on August 13, 2002


dg, I generally agree with your pragmatism, though I believe Dave is sufficiently legally safe in this instance. I've given up, mostly, explaining why corporations send lawyer letters in trademark cases -- most people don't listen, and the news hook of Big Bad Corp Steps on Little Guy is too charming. Toho would probably lose if they pursued this, given the Sears ruling especially, though they could certainly do a big-pockets game of legal attrition if they liked. But in practice, these letters are sufficient to demonstrate preservation of the trademark rights they do retain, which is essential for IP holders. It's uncontested marks that pass into the language. People still say "xerox this", but Xerox Corp. has been very aggressive about, frex, getting corrections in magazines who use the word as a verb; and Lego always writes and tells them to say "Lego brand bricks" instead of "Legos".

Sure, it's intimidating to the little guy; and it can't help but feel like a presaging of further legal action. Which is why I wish Congress would carve out a kind of persona-use exemption. Case law seems to be counting URLs (e.g. "domain.com/godzilla" and handles ("godzilla@domain.com") as non-infringement, at least, but it would be nicer to have a little clearer boundary. Sometimes mere sections of websites can be slagged as infringement (the Kitchen example above), and this has even been applied to thread titles (same clueless mark-bodyguards), though there isn't any case law on that, that I know of.
posted by dhartung at 12:33 AM on August 14, 2002


I s'pose I could change my email addresses and user id's to campzilla but I may already be in the same camp as Davezilla with campmobile. How about a double whammy: Volkswagen and Ray Bradbury.

MeFi is the only place where I am not "campmobile" -- and I don't know why. Far as I know though, Campmobile is not the official moniker for a Volkswagen Type II camper.
posted by Dick Paris at 12:49 AM on August 14, 2002


Yes, people should object if they feel that Toho has gone too far in their actions. Just remember that they have a legal right to them, though and put yourself in their shoes. If you would be prepared to allow a trademark worth billions to be lost because you didn't send out a letter, complain away.

Once I have spent a single year earning billions from a trademark, I promise to release it into the public domain. How's that?
posted by bingo at 1:28 AM on August 14, 2002


Real Lame Video
posted by Niahmas at 1:36 AM on August 14, 2002


This is why I think the notion that you can legally copyright ideas and keep others from using them is patently ludicrous. (pardon the pun)

You can't copyright ideas; you can only copyright a specific expression of an idea. And this isn't a copyright case, it's a trademark case.

I'm sympathetic to Dave, and like dhartung wish that there was a personal-use provision in trademark law, but I'm not sure if it's in the long-term interests of the net community to see the trademark system challenged and derided at every opportunity. Why? Because corporations then turn to other ways of protecting their products, like copyright law, and start lobbying government to turn up the heat in that area - as other threads this week demonstrate.

Take the case of Steamboat Willy. Why on earth should governments keep extending copyright terms (in response to corporate lobbying) to protect a short black and white cartoon starring a proto-Mickey? Does Disney expect to make much money by releasing Steamboat Willy on DVD? Of course not; they're trying to protect the character so that they can keep using it in other contexts. That should be the domain of trademark law, not copyright. But trademarks are susceptible to dilution: Mickey has been parodied, imitated, ripped off in countless ways, and his name has passed into the language. So Disney feels it needs extra protection for its precious rodent, and lobbies Congress to tack a few more decades onto copyright terms to give it an extra stick to beat people with - and we all lose.

Does anyone know if Toho ever explicitly trademarked the '-zilla' suffix? Or does trademark law offer implicit protection for distinctive suffixes?

Personally, I'm wondering when Lucasfilms go after Ronald Reagan.
posted by rory at 4:09 AM on August 14, 2002


(I suppose it does offer implicit protection, in the sense of prohibiting 'confusingly similar' uses - but that's a big grey area in this case, as opposed to, say, selling a stuffed toy dragon called Ghodzilla. As Dave pointed out on his site, nobody was ever going to end up there by typing 'Godzilla' into a search engine. Well, not before yesterday.)
posted by rory at 4:22 AM on August 14, 2002


dhartung, I agree with you completely. I made the point earlier in the thread that they were most likely using the letter to show protection of their trademark and would probably not take further action in any serious way. Stir the pot enough, though and who knows? The whole point is that they have to be seen to be protecting their IP.

It certainly would be nice to have clearer boundaries about how material can be used. I guess the boundaries probably were clear when they were designed, but progress has caught up with them and then some.

Bingo, be careful what you promise on-line and remind me not to buy stock in your corporation if you are going to give away the farm after a year :-)
posted by dg at 4:30 AM on August 14, 2002


suprised that no-one's mentioned Gozilla, the download managing thingy...
posted by ebow at 6:26 AM on August 14, 2002


Go!Zilla has already been mentioned here.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:51 AM on August 14, 2002


Dave, I think you should also register the domain names:
davethra.com - featuring a large lepidoptera
daveora.com - featuring a large painted turtle
davidra.com - featuring a large many-headed lizard

I'd also send them a note bag saying, "I find that your cease and desist order is inaccurate. I will consider it when it applies to my site.

Love, Dave
PS - you lost on Bagzilla"
posted by plinth at 8:25 AM on August 14, 2002


Wait. Backup a parsec!

I thought Davezilla was not a parody of Godzilla, but a parody of Mozilla, which used to be the whole Netscape thing. Netscape used to have this logo where a Godzilla like creature was poking out from behind a hill, and the whole web-based 'zilla' parody was making fun of Netscape making fun of Godzilla, not Godzilla itself.

Since Netscape doesn't do that anymore the whole thing's kinda a moot point anyway, eh? I mean since when has it been funny? 1994?
posted by ZachsMind at 9:08 AM on August 14, 2002


Once I have spent a single year earning billions from a trademark, I promise to release it into the public domain. How's that?

I very much doubt your stockholders would let you.
posted by kindall at 11:06 AM on August 14, 2002


i'd like to see tohu's godzilla mark become the kleenex of the 21st century. in every way imaginable.
posted by quonsar at 12:18 PM on August 14, 2002


Does this mean that their next target will be Godzillary? They don't stand a chance against this monster! Go, go Godzillary!!!
posted by Sal Amander at 12:54 PM on August 14, 2002


dg: Exactly, technology has created a means (the net) for individual use, which used to be extremely limited in distribution (e.g. xeroxed :) newsletters), to suddenly reach the whole world. Digital reproduction makes it easy for a Trekkie to whip up a professional-looking site about Captain Picard that, despite its wholly personal intent, uses lots of copyrighted images, logos, and so forth. Domain names are available for $20 and can dilute a trademark globally. The personal use of IP is something that is entirely synergistic, e.g the fan example, but extremely threatening to the basis for the IP protection.

Zach: Mozilla still boots up with a fire-breathing dragon. I don't think they consider it funny, though it's light-hearted; it's rather an inspiration.
posted by dhartung at 1:12 PM on August 14, 2002


screee-aaaawwwwnk! godzilla would not approve of toho's cease and desist letter, i'm sure of it. 'zilla is so much part of pop culture lexicon, i don't see how they can win in a case like a personal weblog. i agree with those who liken it to kleenex and xerox. at this stage of the game i think it's out of their hands to a certain extent.

i used to call my cat tygzilla when he'd stand on his hind legs and grab my hand with both paws when giving him his heart pill. gee i wonder if they'll come after me for labelling a personal photo that way...? 8-)
posted by t r a c y at 1:50 PM on August 14, 2002


Is Davezilla at all commercial? There may be some protection in fair use or parody. When Mattel tried to shut down my 'zine for featuring Mark Napier's "Distorted Barbie" I did a little research on trademark law and managed to stand our grand.
posted by xian at 10:44 PM on August 14, 2002


Toho could just as easily have protected its supposed trademark of "-zilla" by telling Davezilla, "Hey, kid, the '-zilla' is *ours*....but, seeing's how we like your site, we'll let you use it for now. ...But we reserve the right to change our minds if you suddenly turn to pr0n."
What we have here is *The Case of the Lazy Lawyer.*
posted by realjanetkagan at 11:12 PM on August 25, 2002


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