In the stylized Japanese cartoons known as anime, a superhero typically leaps to the rescue. But in real life, sometimes lawyers fill that role.
In Gaimz Candies LLC v. Funimation Productions Ltd., et al. , Mike Carnahan saved the day by successfully defending his three clients in a fraud suit and securing a take-nothing judgment for them, which 133rd District Judge Jaclanel McFarland of Houston signed on May 24.
Carnahan represents Flower Mound-based Funimation Productions and subsidiary Funimation Productions Management LLC as well as Navarre C.P. of New Hope, Minn., the former parent company of Funimation Productions. Funimation Productions owns most domestic licensing rights to Japanese anime characters Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, says Carnahan, a partner in Southlake’s Carnahan Thomas.
In its March 9 amended petition, Gaimz Candies of The Woodlands alleged that in 2002 it acquired the licensing rights from Funimation Productions for the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z names and images for use on candies and confections.
Gaimz Candies also alleged that, in a 2002 press release, Funimation Productions said 20th Century Fox had acquired the rights to make a live-action movie portraying the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z anime characters, and Gaimz Candies investors poured $500,000 into the candy company based on the understanding the characters were about to become movie stars. But Funimation Productions representatives knew the movie was not immediately — or perhaps ever — scheduled for production and that Gaimz Candies’ and its investors’ stake in the sublicense of the anime characters for use on candy was therefore “worthless,” the plaintiff alleged.
Funimation Productions, Funimation Productions Management and Navarre denied the allegations in their March 8 fourth amended answer.
On March 18, a jury issued a verdict determining that Funimation Productions had not committed fraud against Gaimz Candies. McFarland signed a defense judgment on May 24 that said Gaimz Candies should take nothing against Carnahan’s three clients: Funimation Productions, Funimation Productions Management and Navarre.
“We were happy,” Carnahan says of the outcome of the suit — litigation complicated by the addition of intervenors and cross-defendants. At trial, he says he tried to impress upon the jury that his three clients had not directly talked to the Gaimz Candies investors about the 20th Century Fox movie plans and that a representative of Funimation Productions had e-mailed the president of Gaimz Candies that a movie did not appear imminent.
During trial Carnahan says he brought in 50 different types of candy to illustrate to the jury that three manufacturers dominate the confections industry; therefore Gaimz Candies faced other barriers to success in the market unrelated to whether the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z images on its sweets were linked to a film.
Dale Ossip Johnson of Austin’s Johnson Law Firm, who represents Gaimz Candies, says, “The jury had the benefit of all the facts and the jury elected to subscribe to the defendants’ story.”
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