The Licensing Blog

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Fruit Ninja Gets A Licensing Program

I could be a bit taller. Your house is probably cleaner than mine. Your car is definitely nicer. (I don’t own one.) You probably call your family more often than I do. You could likely beat me in basketball, unless your game is Twister, in which case you could certainly beat me. I’m realistic about my abilities.

I can, however, say this: I will beat you in Fruit Ninja.

That’s not quite right: I’ll humiliate you. I’ll cut virtual fruit like you’ve never seen it cut before, and likely never will again. The Angry Birds only got angry after watching me play. They thought they were so good, especially boomerang bird. They weren’t.

I’m happy to announce, then, that Halfbrick Studios has signed multiple licensing deals for Fruit Ninja. They’ve teamed with Hybrid for apparel, Loungefly and Basic Fun for accessories, Bioworld for accessories and bags, and MJC for men’s and women’s family sleepwear.

That’s the good news. The bad news in that the time it took you to read this I probably just got another high score. Unless it’s during work hours. In which case I definitely didn’t, nope, not at all, no ma’am.

—Bryan Joiner

This Kung Fu Panda 2 Post is Meatless

Po is back, and he politely asks that you do not eat any of his friends.

Dreamworks announced its slate of licensees for Kung Fu Panda 2 this morning, headlined by an unusual partnership with House Foods America for branded tofu. There’s even a website featuring Po to preach the benefits of the product.

We’re pro-Po and pro-tofu, and we’re happy to see characters expanding further into healthy food licensing. If that’s where the money is, it’s good for everybody.

—Bryan Joiner

Tatty Teddy Headed to U.S.

Tatty Teddy is headed to North America with a licensing agreement between UK-based Carte Blanche Greeting, Ltd.’s brand Me to You and U.S. plush toy firm Douglas.

Douglas will produce and distribute the Me to You brand’s Tatty Teddy bears, targeting premium retail stores throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to everyday offerings, the Tatty Teddy collection will include products for key seasons, including Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day.

The deal was brokered by Stone America Licensing.

Sometimes Taking Work Home is a Good Thing

Living in New York City, I always take the R train home to Brooklyn from The Licensing Book office in Midtown Manhattan. I don’t like to read on the subway—afraid I will be too engrossed in a book and miss my stop (it’s happened before)—so I normally listen to music. Sometimes, if I find something interesting, I read the advertisements that extend down the length of the subway car.

The normal ads involve everything from ambulance-chasing attorneys, all but begging for business, to Jameson whiskey ads, airlines promising to spirit weary travelers off to an exotic destination, and foot surgery ads complete with pictures of mangled feet. I have read those bulletins a million times, but yesterday I saw something different.

The vibrant colors first attracted my attention then I looked up and saw several smiling models wearing Care Bears T-Shirts. Most people would think that’s cute and go on with their commute rituals. Maybe because I spend the bulk of my day examining the world of licensing, the ad peaked my curiosity.

With further examination, I learned that the shirts are produced by the Tokyo-based, somewhat hipster, clothing company Uniqlo. I was familiar with their clothes, normally very basic and rarely adorned with graphics.

When I got into work this morning, I decided to investigate: American Greetings Corporation and Japanese licensing agent MindWorks Entertainment brokered The Uniqlo/Care Bear deal. The shirts just hit retail and are sold at 800 Uniqlo stores across Japan and an additional 150 territories, including the U.S.

I know people often take their work home with them, whether they want to or not, but in this case, I’m glad I did.

—Mackenzie Allison

Grooveshark Tells Google to Step Off

The best way for a company to fight back when they’ve felt shafted is to write an open letter and declare to the world that they did nothing wrong. That’s exactly what Grooveshark—an app that allows users to post songs and share them with others, almost like what YouTube does for videos—did when Google removed the app from the Android market.

The Internet behemoth claims Grooveshark was in violation of Google’s policies, which was probably brought on by heat from the Record Industry Association of America.

Grooveshark’s response? Although they admit that they haven’t received licenses from every single label, they say they are totally legit because they comply with laws passed by Congress and operate under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The app, which boasts more than six million tracks in its catalogue, appears to have a track record when it comes to questionable dealings: Apple also pulled the Grooveshark app from the App Store in August after Apple received a complaint from Universal Music Group UK, and EMI accused it of copyright violations in 2009, a spat that was settled after the company allowed Grooveshark to license its content.

Grooveshark is requesting that both Apple and Google make the app available again, and we are curious to see how this all plays out.

—Mackenzie Allison

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in Licensing

The time-traveling duo Bill S. Preston, Esquire,  and “Ted” Theodore Logan, of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, were a big hit back in the early ‘90s, popularizing such So-Cal jargon as “most righteous” and “excellent,” spawning a sequel and a cartoon spin-off, and launching the career of at least one of its stars, Keanu Reeves.

Although the duo haven’t serenaded audiences with air guitar in quite a few years, their spirit lives on in the world of licensing. Universal theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood are renewing Bill & Ted Excellent Halloween Adventure for the 20th year and Creative Licensing Corporation has signed on three new licensees for the Bill and Ted roster, including American Greetings for online greeting cards, Perri’s Leathers for guitar picks and straps, and Microgaming for online slot machines.

Word has it Bill and Ted will make a big screen comeback with a third movie. We all know what Keanu’s been up to, but we admit it would be pretty cool to see an older Alex Winter.

—Mackenzie Allison

Unofficial Licensing: It’s a Peeps Party!

Easter is just around the corner and grocery store aisles everywhere are filled with Peeps—the marshmallow candies covered in colorful sugar. Not officially licensed, but fun none the less, The Washington Post recently held its 2011 Peeps Diorama Contest, which asks its readers to create topical dioramas using the famed candy. The winning diorama came from Mary Jo Ondrejka from Reston; Bryn Metzdorf from Fairfax; and Margaret Hartka from Parkton, Md. who created the Chilean CoPeepapo Mine Rescue, based on the rescue of 33 Copiapo, Chile miners  last October. Several of the 35 runner-ups took inspiration from movies, apps, and artwork. Our favorites?  The zero-gravity hallway fighting scene from Inception, transformed to Inpeeption; Angry Peeps, based on the popular mobile app Angry Birds; and Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night got a rework as Vincent Van Peep’s Starry Night.

Yes, we are aware this isn’t licensing per se, but it’s Friday and we thought we’d have a little fun. Plus, we have no objections to seeing any of these creative dioramas transferred onto a T-shirt or coffee mug one day.

—Mackenzie Allison

Full List of 2011 LIMA Awards Nominees

LIMA announced 69 nominees from around the world for the annual LIMA International Licensing Excellence Awards. The awards, which recognize creativity and performance in trademark licensing, will be announced at LIMA’s Opening Night Awards Ceremony on June 14 during Licensing International Expo 2011 in Las Vegas.

Categories for the awards include Art or Design; Character or Toy; Corporate, Film, Television, Celebrity or Entertainment; Sports or Sports-themed Entertainment; Licensed Promotion; and Retailer of the Year.

The Overall Best Licensed Program of the Year award will also be presented. Finalists include Hello Kitty Sanrio, Inc.; JCB JC Bamford Excavators Ltd./JCB.; Consumer Products; Justin Bieber Bravado International Group; PGA Tour PGA Tour, Inc.; The Stanley Works Beanstalk (agent for The Stanley Works); Toy Story 3 The Walt Disney Company; and Victoria and Albert Museum Victoria and Albert Museum/V&A Enterprises.

Voting is open to LIMA members until May 13. The full list of nominees is below:

Best Art or Design Program of the Year

Andy Warhol
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Artkey’s Qi Baishi
Artkey Co., Ltd.

Shopaholic, Too
Designs by Lolita, Inc./Out of the Box Licensing

The Smiley Pop Art Style Collection
The Smiley Company

Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum/V&A Enterprises

Best Art or Design Licensee of the Year

Creative Tops
Victoria and Albert Museum/ceramics

Dom Pérignon
Andy Warhol/champagne

Santa Barbara Design Studio

Smiley Factory Ltd.
SmileyWorld Vintage/apparel

Best Character or Toy Brand Program of the Year

Hello Kitty
Sanrio, Inc.

Minnie Mouse
The Walt Disney Company

Peppa Pig
eOne Entertainment

Skelanimals, LLC/Art Impressions, Inc.

Best Character or Toy Brand Licensee of the Year – Hard Goods

Fisher-Price, Inc.
TRIO DC Super Friends Batcave

JAKKS Pacific, Inc.
Big Buck Hunter Pro/TV games & Wii title

Kellogg Company

PPW Toys
Mr. Potato Head Affinity Program

smart USA
Hello Kitty/car wraps for the smart fortwo

Best Character or Toy Brand Licensee of the Year – Soft Goods

São Paulo Alpargatas S.A./Havaianas
Woody Woodpecker/flip flops

Jay Franco & Sons, Inc.
Mickey Mouse/bath program

Hello Kitty/junior accessories

Best Corporate Brand Program of the Year

Animal Planet
Discovery Communications/The Joester Loria Group

ASPCA Private Label Brand
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

J C Bamford Excavators Limited/JCB Consumer Products

Jelly Belly
Jelly Belly/The Licensing Company

The Stanley Works
Stanley Black & Decker/The Beanstalk Group, LLC

Best Corporate Brand Licensee of the Year

Baccus Global, LLC
The Stanley Works/lighting & 12 volt automotive accessories

Ginsey Home Solutions (aka Ginsey Industries, Inc.)
Rubbermaid/designer bath mat collection

Nouveau Eyewear
Umbro/ophthalmic eyewear

Sakar International, Inc.
Kodak/family of products

Shabby Chic
Simply Shabby Chic at Target/bedding, bath, window

Best Film, Television, Celebrity, or Entertainment Program of the Year

Dora the Explorer
Nickelodeon Consumer Products

How to Train Your Dragon
DreamWorks Animation

Justin Bieber
Bravado International Group

Toy Story 3
The Walt Disney Company

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Summit Entertainment/Striker Entertainment

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Orlando Resort/Warner Bros. Consumer Products

Best Film, Television, Celebrity, or Entertainment Licensee of the Year – Hard Goods

The Bridge Direct, Inc., dba The Bridge
Justin Bieber/dolls

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Karaoke Revolution Glee

Learning Curve Brands
Chuggington/die-cast toys

Harry Potter/construction sets & Hogwarts board game

Rubie’s Costume Co., Inc.
Lady Gaga/costumes & accessories

Best Film, Television, Celebrity, or Entertainment Licensee of the Year – Soft Goods

Awake, Inc

Jay Franco & Sons, Inc.
Toy Story 3/bedding, bath & beach

Mighty Fine
Alice in Wonderland/apparel

Mighty Fine
Toy Story 3/apparel

National Entertainment Collectibles Association, Inc.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse/apparel & accessories

Best Sports or Sports-Themed Entertainment Program of the Year

2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic
National Hockey League


NASCAR Team Properties
NASCAR and Teams

PGA Tour
PGA Tour, Inc.

Best Sports or Sports-Themed Entertainment Licensee of the Year

Cycle Force Group
Tour de France/bicycles & accessories

JAKKS Pacific, Inc.
Ultimate Fighting Championship/action figures, playsets & role play

NASCAR/building sets

PB Teen

ESPN/indoor & outdoor recreation

Best Licensed Promotion of the Year

Burger King’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Ultimate Experience
Summit Entertainment/Striker Entertainment

Chuggington Traffic Safety Cross-Platform Promotion
Ludorum/Super RTL

Dove Glee For All
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Limited Edition Armed Forces Licensed Razor Program
U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard

Green’s Free Irwins Apron
Irwin Family

Mr. Happy Should’ve Gone to Specsavers

SGI Apparel & Kohl’s Bakugan Gift with Purchase Program
Nelvana Enterprises/Cartoon Network Enterprises

Best Retailer of the Year

Strictly Come Dancing

Forever 21
Minnie Mouse

Sesame Street

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Move Over Spider-Man, The Caped Crusader’s In Town

Let’s put the trials and tribulations associated with the new Spider-Man Broadway show, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, to the side for a moment and focus on another famed super hero: Batman.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Entertainment and Water Lane Productions have unveiled key characters in the $20-million-dollar theatrical extravaganza Batman Live-World Arena Tour, which debuts July 19 in the UK.

DC Comics’ Caped Crusader and his sidekick Robin will fight the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman, the Penguin, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn, in an attempt to save Gotham City.

The show will reach North American audiences in August 2012.

—Mackenzie Allison

New Acquisitions Expand VIZ Kids Offerings

VIZ Media, a distributor of anime and manga in the U.S., has announced acquisitions for its kids imprint, VIZ Kids. The acquisitions include DVD, download-to-own, and graphic novel licenses for Hero 108, Mameshiba, Pokemon, Mr. Men and Little Miss, and Voltron Force.

VIZ Kids will distribute DVDs of Hero 108 in May and make episodes available for download on iTunes in June. Based on Mameshiba, VIZ Kids will release a graphic novel, Mameshiba: On the Loose!, and a character guide, Meet Mameshiba, in July. The company will also release manga, a travel activity kit, and other select merchandise based on Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version. The travel activity kit will be available in May and volumes 1 and 2 of  the manga will be available in July 2011. VIZ Media will create and distribute original graphic novels based on Mr. Men and Little Miss in spring 2012 and produce and distribute original graphic novels based on the all-new animated series Voltron Force in spring 2012.

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