Harmony Gold Resurrects Itself Once More And Regains Rights To Robotech License

Robotech

courtesy of Bounding Into Comics

Just when you think you’ve finally slain the beast, Harmony Gold rears its ugly head once again.

Last Friday, Den of Geek reported that Harmony Gold had renewed its license to the Robotech intellectual property from Tatsunoko. In the tangled weave of BattleTech and Robotech, many of the famous Unseen ‘Mech designs were originally created by Tatsunoko and used in various anime productions, namely Robotech, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada. In their mad dash to monetize these animes for a Western audience, Tatsunoko licensed off their IP piece-meal to both Harmony Gold and another marketing firm, Big West.

According to the publication, a California court held in 2017 that Tatsunoko and Harmony Gold’s license was valid, but also that it was set to expire on July 5th, 2021. That was a day many in the Robotech community were looking forward to as they blame Harmony Gold for preventing any new content from being produced.

Sadly, there dreams of a future where Robotech could be expanded were dashed when Harmony Gold announced their agreement with Tatsunoko would extend “well into the future”. The full press release is below:

“HOLLYWOOD, CA, July 5 – Harmony Gold USA, Inc. announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Japanese anime studio, Tatsunoko Productions, Co., to extend the worldwide, co-copyright ownership and exclusive management, excluding Japan, for its landmark anime series Robotech (including Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada). This agreement was achieved after a lengthy negotiation and allows Harmony Gold to continue to exploit the animated Robotech franchise well into the future.”

There are a lot of flower statements from various HG executives over on Den of Geek, so if you care to listen to their horse manure you can head on over there to get it straight from the equine’s mouth.

Robotech

Before we get into what this might mean for the BattleTech community, I think it’s important to note that Robotech fans HATE Harmony Gold even more than we do. All they do is sit on the IP and sue people that come even remotely close to infringing upon it. For this reason, basically no new Robotech material has been produced in decades, and the Twitter replies are filled with angry Robotech fans shouting at Harmony Gold to take a long walk off a short pier–and that’s being generous.

So, what does this mean for us in the BattleTech camp? As a refresher, last summer PGI (the developers of MechWarrior 5 and MechWarrior Online) announced a settlement deal with Harmony Gold that allowed the use of the Unseen designs in pretty much all of BattleTech’s various forms, including Harebrained Scheme’s BattleTech, MWO, MW5, and the tabletop game.

Much of that settlement was predicated on the uncertainty of Harmony Gold’s claims to the various ‘Mech designs. There wasn’t any question that they owned the characters for Robotech, but Tatsunoko licensed off the various ‘Mech designs to Big West in a separate deal. PGI brought this uncertainty of Harmony Gold’s standing to even launch a lawsuit over the Unseen in court, which prompted HG to drop their case and settle.

Just because Harmony Gold now has a firm grasp on the Robotech IP once again doesn’t mean they have possession of the ‘Mechs too, as confusing as that might seem. So this likely means that nothing will really change for BattleTech.

Robotech

However, we don’t know the terms of the settlement with PGI. It’s possible the terms had a time limit and Harmony Gold will start coming after BattleTech’s creators for using Unseen designs in the future. Or it’s possible that the redesigns of the Rifleman, Warhammer, Archer, and others are now far enough removed from the original Robotech versions that a court would rule them different enough not to be infringing.

But as I always say, I’m no lawyer. If any of you legally trained folks want to go dig up this new deal between Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko to see what the specifics of that deal is and get back to me, we’d all be mighty grateful. For now, though, don’t panic.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

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About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can't remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in 'Mech related news.

17 thoughts on “Harmony Gold Resurrects Itself Once More And Regains Rights To Robotech License

  1. Kanan Nallainathan

    thanks for the update… we all know Harmony Gold is cancer… hopefully it doesnt affect the Battletech franchise… time will tell…

    Reply
  2. Mainbrace

    Really, the people to blame here are Tatsunoko. It’s their IP and they should know who they are licensing it to. I did watch Robotech as a kid and I have vague memories of it, but knowing that Harmony Gold would get a cut if I tried to purchase a copy legally will stop me from ever going back to watch it again (I tell myself that I want to share this stuff with my kids but who am I kidding?).

    I think the decision to not use any of the Unseen art is the correct one. As much as I love the Unseen Marauder, it’s not worth the hassle to continue using the old artwork and as much as I dislike PGI’s monitization the artwork they have brought to the series is fantastic.

    I’d like to see the artwork issues finally put to rest, I want nothing more than the series to move forth unimpeded.
    Let’s just hope nobody goes back and looks at the old drawings of Capellan and Kuritan leaders. Seriously, they look like they were draw in the 50’s by a highschool student who has never seen a real Asian person.

    Reply
  3. Kdogprime

    As a fan of all things mech, this is extremely disappointing news. If I want to see any new Macross, I’ll have to continue to import from Japan. I was counting the days until Robotech was a thing of the past.

    I really wish HG would just go away.

    Reply
  4. AJC

    unlikely to matter much since their last attempt got dismissed with prejudice means HG will need to find a totally new excuse to go after Battletech now.

    Reply
  5. Sven

    Problem is the one thing these guys are good at, is finding a reason no matter how flimsy to sue again. I mean that is the whole reason for their existence. So I am not really excepting that they try their usual stunt again.

    Reply
  6. wolfbane2004

    If there’s anyone who hates Harmony Gold more than BattleTech or RoboTech fans, it’s Macross fans. Thanks to Harmony Gold’s “ownership” being as crap as Disney’s hoarding of IPs, Macross purists like me won’t be able to see any kind of Western release of Macross 7 and its spinoffs, Macross Frontier and Macross Delta (not to mention the prequel Macross Zero, which is surprising since it’s technically the prequel to RoboTech as well) – not even an English subbed release. Also means you can’t go to your Hobbytown USA and get the 1/72nd scale model kits for the Valkyries, Messiahs, or Siegfrieds (yes, Bandai actually has fully transforming, yet fragile just like Land-Air ‘Mechs, model kits of the variable fighters). How I’d kill for a model kit of a Glaug just to rub it in RoboTech’s face by painting it in the Bounty Hunter’s scheme. :P

    And I happen to be one of those rare fans of BattleTech who found Macross before RoboTech and am a Macross purist (besides, the “I AM a genius!” line really loses it’s punchline in RoboTech when you think about it).

    Reply
      1. wolfbane2004

        I know – I have the kit of Roy Focker’s VF-1S plus the super parts and the VF-31 of the main protagonist from Macross Delta. Now if they DID have a Glaug in the same scale that’d be fun to find.

        Now if Bandai or Kotobukiya would love to make a series of BattleTech kits (starting with the Urbie, Atlas, Orion, Griffin and Hunchback), I’d be all over that. ^^

        Reply
  7. Bogus

    This probably won’t affect Battletech very much. As noted, it was never really in question that HG has Robotech/Macross copyrights. Whether or not they’re atrocious stewards of said copyrights is a tangential issue.

    That having been said, anyone that makes stuff associated with the BT franchise needs to have a respectable pile of eff-you legal money. HG or no HG, there are simply too many entities with partial claims that have been involved over the years. It’s always gonna be one ambitious lawyer away from a massive IP war.

    Reply
  8. Rob C.

    As being one of those Macross/Robotech fans who HATE Harmony Gold. I feel that Robotech future is in doubt. If the Robotech fandom (as whole) truly hates HG, then they need stop buying their crap in the first place. SERIOUSLY. They re-image their stuff via comics now, it’s only new Robotech anything out there, which is just re-hashed stories done different or side stories which overall aren’t canon. That’s like loving Scifi books from Star Trek, and their not referred to as canon for decades.

    As long as HG exists at all, they’re will effectively kill there IP value. However fandom wants change, they got stop buying their crap in the first place. No matter how cool it is.

    Reply
  9. Mr. S

    Also, if I recall correctly, HG is mostly real estate agency and I suspect that the whole Robotech/Macross stuff was a secondary source of income which was mostly abandoned when the animation department was shut down years ago.

    Reply
  10. NoSpam

    “PGI brought this uncertainty of Harmony Gold’s standing to even launch a lawsuit over the Unseen in court, which prompted HG to drop their case and settle.”

    As much as I’d like this to hold true there’s no evidence Harmony dropped it to settle, the whole case was sealed. It’s more likely PGI buckled and settled because they couldn’t afford to keep fighting the case. Harmony Gold are masters at dragging out cases and their request for a letter rogatory would have cost PGI in lawyers fees for the many months it was pending.

    Reply
    1. Jayce Pentad

      Given that the Catalyst Kickstarter includes new plastic miniatures of all the Unseen, which previously they weren’t even willing to include in the Succession Wars TRO or game imagery for some time, I think it’s safe for now to say that the case ended favorably to PGI/CGL/HBS. PGI followed up with some subtle(?) snark in their subsequent sales on Unseen ‘mechs, and have since released Warhammer IIC and Marauder II, with hints of more to come. HBS’s Heavy Metal expansion similarly has been teased to have some ‘mechs that have been “unseen” for many years. Iron Wind was selling limited run Wasp and Valkyrie sculpts in a new style at GenCon (iirc). It’s a good time for BattleTech fans of these designs. I’m gutted for my Macross and Robotech loving friends, nonetheless.

      Reply
  11. Jekub

    Not a Lawyer but, I read the article and it seems to be promising. It states that “In 2017 the upholding of the license agreement made it clear Big West still owns those 41 characters designs and Tatsunoko owns the commercial rights to the Macross series.” so it looks to me like Tatsunoko made it clear to HG that they (Tatsunoko) owns Macross with BIG WEST owning the character designs. So HG still gets the commercial release rights in US but ONLY to the original Macross series which is repackaged as Robotech. IF I’m right in my assumptions HG got smacked down HARD! Rumor has it that Tatsunoko and BIG WEST were pissed at HG for basically claiming that they owned Macross and everything in Robotech so they would’ve clarified the original agreement which WASN’T written on a napkin (how dumb do HG think we are?) so that HG wasn’t crapping all over the ACTUAL copyright holders. I just hope that people start bringing Macross into the west now, I want Zero, Seven, Frontier and Delta subbed in HD on Blu-Ray NOW!

    Reply
  12. Ethan

    My hate for Harmony Gold glows like the core of the Sun…and no, HG, Robotech (which is a name ORIGINALLY CREATED BY REVELL for a line of models in the 1980s imported from Japan) will not get the big screen release you want because NOBODY will go watch it just to SPITE YOU!!! Understand this, HG, WE. HATE. YOU. All of Robotech’s fans, all of Battletech’s fans, hate you. We hope everything bad in the Universe happens to you and nobody but you. Your greed and disrespect for BOTH FRANCHISES, and YOUR FANS, is glaringly obvious and I will NEVER buy Robotech merchandise from you. I will purchase it second hand or on the black market, I don’t care, just as long as it isn’t making you any money.

    Reply

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