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Tsuburaya plots Ultraman expansion

Tsuburaya Productions was named sole owner of Ultraman by a US court

The producer of classic Japanese superhero property Ultraman is developing new projects based on the character after it was named sole owner of the IP in a US court last year.

Tsuburaya Productions Co (TPC) held a press conference in Malaysia last week to discuss its plans and ways it is working with companies in South-East Asia.

This came after the US District Court in the Central District of California ruled in April last year that TCP is the sole owner of Ultraman, as well as all Ultraman heroes, monsters and any other characters related to the Ultraman universe.

TPC’s latest Ultraman series, Ultraman R/B, will begin airing on Malaysia’s Astro TV on August 30 and another series, Ultra Taiga, will be available worldwide in 2020. These join the existing Ultraman series, which is currently available on Netflix.

Meanwhile, Ultra Galaxy Fight, an online series featuring Ultraman’s New Generation Heroes versus the League of Darkness! Ultra Galaxy Fight will be available on TPC’s official YouTube channel from September 29.

Elsewhere, a miniseries aimed at preschoolers, titled Kaiju Step, will launch on Japan’s NHK in October, while feature film Shin Ultraman, an adaptation of the original Ultraman movie created in 1969, is due for release in 2021.

Tokyo-based production and licensing firm UM Corporation (UMC) had previously won a protracted legal battle in 2010 over the Ultraman IP.

The Japanese Supreme Court ruled UMC was the rightful holder of the rights to Ultraman, rather than TPC, the production company behind the original series.

However, Masayuki Nagatake, president of TPC, said that the recent US judgement marks the “most legitimate way” to resolve the dispute, as it is the most thorough assessment of IP ownership.

“The US judgement is the most reliable judgment in the world, with its so called ‘discovery’ process, where both parties must disclose enormous amounts of documents, materials and communications that both parties had in their possession, which was not mandatory in previous lawsuits,” said Nagatake.

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