Los Angeles, CA – Godzilla knocked over buildings and stomped its way to the Federal District Court in Los Angeles to file suit against Subway because it’s furious over the use of its image in Subway restaurant commercials, which sandwiches it apparently doesn’t enjoy or endorse. Maybe Megalon, Godzilla’s nemesis, is interested in the gig? Toho Co., the owner of the Godzilla franchise, sued Doctor’s Associates, Inc., the owner of the Subway sandwich empire, for trademark infringement and copyright infringement for use of the Godzilla character in its “Five Dollar Footlong” sandwich commercials. “The commercial at issue, which was created for Subway by advertising agency McCarthy Mambro Bertino, LLC in support of Subway’s ‘Five Dollar Footlong’ sandwich promotion, features Godzilla attacking a Japanese city and then endorsing the sandwich by spreading his hands a foot apart.” The advertising agency is also sued as a defendant.
“At no time did Defendants seek or obtain Toho’s permission or consent to use or feature the Godzilla Character or any substantially or confusingly similar character in the Commercial.” Apparently, when Toho learned of the commercial, it demanded the defendants cease airing the commercial. “Rather, defendants have continued airing the Commercial on popular television programs, including the NCAA Basketball Tournament semi-final and Championship games” and American Idol. The Complaint estimates that the defendants have spent at least $20 million in TV-air-time alone. Toho alleges that Subway has made millions of dollars as a result of the unauthorized commercial use of the Godzilla character and seeks the disgorgement of Subway’s profits and its costs and attorneys’ fees.
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The complaint asserts the following causes of action: (1) Unfair competition and false designation of origin under section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a); (2) Federal anti-dilution law violation, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c); (3) State anti-dilution law, California Business & Professions Code § 14330; (4) Common law unfair competition; (5) Unjust enrichment; and, (6) copyright infringement. The case is titled Toho Co., Ltd., v. Doctor’s Associates, Inc., d/b/a Subway, et al., CV08-02511 GPS (C.D. Cal. 2008).