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Thread: Mattel no longer owns the rights to MOTU?

  1. #1
    Jealous & zealous! RocketPunch's Avatar
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    Mattel no longer owns the rights to MOTU?

    Just read this on another forum (originally posted by Toyguru):

    Quote Originally Posted by Toyguru
    Mattel sold the rights in the 90's. We paid a royalty on every motuc figure. I know because I ran the P&L.

    The only odd loophole was letting Mattel still use the copyright line. But even that goes away in 2023.

    Mattel-->Hallmark-->entertainment rights-->classic media-->dreamworks-->Universal-->Val Staples (just kidding on that last one!)
    So apparently Universal now owns MOTU.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Heroic Warrior Snake_Man's Avatar
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    So then from WHOM is Super 7 licensing the action figure rights? I was under the impression that this was all being hammered out "in house"?

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    Heroic Warrior Stygian360's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snake_Man View Post
    So then from WHOM is Super 7 licensing the action figure rights? I was under the impression that this was all being hammered out "in house"?
    Wouldn't it make sense that if Mattel had to pay a royalty to the owner of the rights- Universal- that Super7 would pay that same company? If I own a particular animal and expected you to pay a fee to hang out with my animal why would you pay my friend that fee instead of me the true owner? Not saying I have any factual window into this situation (that would be ToyGuru more than likely), but it stands to reason.
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    Heroic Warrior PantherCult's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RocketPunch View Post
    Just read this on another forum (originally posted by Toyguru):



    So apparently Universal now owns MOTU.

    Thoughts?
    There is clarification - in a thread on another forum, probably the same one you lifted the original quote from - from Emilano on this issue as follows:

    "Hi Scott, Emiliano here
    I understand you may have been out of the loop for some time now, but don't know what this information about Universal comes from.
    Masters of the Universe is currently owned by Mattel and Classic Media/Dreamworks.
    Dreamworks owns entertainment rights to MOTU and POP and acts as licensing agent for Mattel regarding these 2 brands. You should know as this is a deal that was signed while you were still the brand manager.

    I've been putting together packaging for some MOTU products not later than a few weeks ago, and the legal line I put there still says:
    "MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and associated trademarks are owned and used under license from Mattel, Inc. 2016 Mattel, Inc.
    All Right Reserved. Under license to Classic Media."

    Dreamworks Animation has been recently purchased by NBC Universal, but that happened in 2016, long after the deal with Classic Media was signed and after you left.
    So, my best guess is that you're confusing Dreamworks with Universal, but still Mattel owns MOTU. I'm sure Mattel is paying Dreamworks some fees because of the deal mentioned before, but they didn't give away their ownership.


    So there's that...

  5. #5
    Heroic Warrior Snake_Man's Avatar
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    Okay, I feel much better about THAT. Thanks for the useful clarification. :^)

  6. #6
    Evil Collapsing Robot! Zodach's Avatar
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    Wasn't this in reference to the Filmation characters? Earlier in the Classics line Mattel was not producing any Filmation characters unless they had a vintage toy or appeared in another form of media. Later on Mattel worked out a deal to produce the Filmation specific characters.

  7. #7
    Heroic Warrior PantherCult's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zodach View Post
    Wasn't this in reference to the Filmation characters? Earlier in the Classics line Mattel was not producing any Filmation characters unless they had a vintage toy or appeared in another form of media. Later on Mattel worked out a deal to produce the Filmation specific characters.
    So, I guess I missed a bunch of back and forth between Emiliano and Scott after the quote I posted.

    Scott Maintains that ALL rights to MOTU were sold back in the 1990's and that Mattel paid a royalty on every single MOTUC figure (I assume this means they also paid royalties on every 200x series figure, the anniversary figures, etc ad infinitum). Scott indicates that the deal allows Mattel to maintain the Copyright line on the merchandise until 2023...

    But then Scott deftly avoids answering a question about why - if the information about Dreamworks/Universal is true - did it require a second licensing agreement to do Filmation specific characters (which we know it did).

    Anyway, it appears that there may indeed be more to this story about where the intellectual property ownership for Masters of the Universe truly stands, and it is at least possible that Mattel don't actually own the rights to MOTU characters as we all assumed.

  8. #8
    The Man Shecky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PantherCult View Post
    There is clarification - in a thread on another forum, probably the same one you lifted the original quote from - from Emilano on this issue as follows:

    "Hi Scott, Emiliano here
    I understand you may have been out of the loop for some time now, but don't know what this information about Universal comes from.
    Masters of the Universe is currently owned by Mattel and Classic Media/Dreamworks.
    Dreamworks owns entertainment rights to MOTU and POP and acts as licensing agent for Mattel regarding these 2 brands. You should know as this is a deal that was signed while you were still the brand manager.

    I've been putting together packaging for some MOTU products not later than a few weeks ago, and the legal line I put there still says:
    "MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and associated trademarks are owned and used under license from Mattel, Inc. 2016 Mattel, Inc.
    All Right Reserved. Under license to Classic Media."

    Dreamworks Animation has been recently purchased by NBC Universal, but that happened in 2016, long after the deal with Classic Media was signed and after you left.
    So, my best guess is that you're confusing Dreamworks with Universal, but still Mattel owns MOTU. I'm sure Mattel is paying Dreamworks some fees because of the deal mentioned before, but they didn't give away their ownership.


    So there's that...
    Scott's response (in the first post) was after this post from Emiliano that you posted.

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    Tri-Solar Lord Oceanwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shecky View Post
    Scott's response (in the first post) was after this post from Emiliano that you posted.
    What other forum is this?

  10. #10
    President of Primus Ornclown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shecky View Post
    Scott's response (in the first post) was after this post from Emiliano that you posted.
    So... then it's true that Mattel pays royalties on MOTU merchandise? And the Mattel Copyright is just a caveat given by Universal?

    Wow, I had no idea...
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  11. #11
    Heroic Warrior Toyguru's Avatar
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    Mattel has first rights to toys through 2023 but we did pay a royalty on every motuc fig to the IP owner (that changed a ton over the years). It's all spelled out on the other site. :-)

    I have no idea how the 200x line worked as I was in college at the time. At my new gig at Loot Crate, our licensing agreement for motu swag is with Universal, not Mattel.

    Take a look at all the Darkhorse books, the Dreamworks/Universal logo is a lot bigger then the Mattel logo. :-P

    Not a secret, it's all a matter of public record.

    Mattel does still own all the development material from the vintage era, but entertainment rights are with Universal with all rights to them in 2023. Sony has live action rights I think through 2019. (I think)

    POP is a entirely different brand (legally) which is why super 7 can't make pop figs right now. (I think)

    Beyond that, you will need to address Mattel or Universal. I've been out of the game to long! :-P
    Last edited by Toyguru; January 4, 2017 at 05:16pm.

  12. #12
    Tri-Solar Lord Oceanwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toyguru View Post
    Mattel has first rights to toys through 2023 but we did pay a royalty on every motuc fig to the IP owner (that changed a ton over the years). It's all spelled out on the other site. :-)

    I have no idea how the 200x line worked as I was in college at the time. At my new gig at Loot Crate, our licensing agreement for motu swag is with Universal, not Mattel.
    What site? PM me if you must. Please.

  13. #13
    Heroic Warrior Toyguru's Avatar
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    Am I allowed to mention another sites on this forum? I thought that was against the rules.

  14. #14
    Tri-Solar Lord Oceanwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toyguru View Post
    Am I allowed to mention another sites on this forum? I thought that was against the rules.
    My inbox isn't full sir. :-)

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    Heroic Warrior
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    Okay, I'm really confused here. Something doesn't make sense.

    There's no way that Mattel sold He-Man to Universal. Wasn't he just used on some corporate branding/mascot stuff a few years ago alongside Barbie and HotWheels (2012, I think?)? And Scott told us how meaningful that was as a sign of how much people at Mattel really supported Masters and saw it as a potential flagship brand. How is Mattel able to use He-man as a corporate mascot if they don't actually own him?

    Something doesn't sound right here. Not accusing anyone of lying, but something is off.

    It would make sense if Mattel had to pay a royalty on the Filmation characters they didn't own (like Shadow Weaver) and couldn't make toys of until they got the Filmation license in 2011/2012. But of every figure?

    It's long been known that Entertainment rights belong to Sony and Dreamworks, but the entire brand belonging to Universal? That doesn't make any sense and has never been suggested before in all the years I've been paying close attention, which is the better part of the decade.
    "Mattel's policy of things being seen as a failure if they don't sell out in minutes still annoys the hell out of me." .org Member paulioscorchio

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  16. #16
    Heroic Warrior Toyguru's Avatar
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    From what i recall, mattel does still have toy rights until 2023 which is why they still use the logo in corp branding. But I don't and can't speak for Mattel so please don't take my word as law. I am not claiming to have full knowledge of this.
    Best to ask Mattel for clarification.

  17. #17
    Evil Horde Poison Master! Mr_Yuck's Avatar
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    This revelation is super confusing, since it's long been gestured that Mattel had the rights to do anything that was made into a toy during the vintage run, and that any characters that were in the Filmation cartoons or other media (The '87 movie) that were not made in the vintage line were off limits. That was at least until that arrangement was made with Classic Media back in 2011 or so.

    So, I guess my question is when did this change? I just find it odd that after all the discussions about rights and such that this topic never came up before.
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  18. #18
    Heroic Warrior Toyguru's Avatar
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    Last thing I want to do is add any confusion! Especially for a brand I don't work on.

    From the best of my knowledge (which is limited
    And I do NOT speak for Mattel) Mattel has first pass/option at toy rights (through 2023). That is why they can do anyone made as a toy in vintage era until 2023. But toy rights still required paying a royalty to the entertainment rights holder.

    To do toys based on any entertainment (i.e. Filmation) required a deal with the owner of the entertainment rights which is currently Universal.

    Does that help?

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    Heroic Warrior Ivan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Yuck View Post
    This revelation is super confusing, since it's long been gestured that Mattel had the rights to do anything that was made into a toy during the vintage run, and that any characters that were in the Filmation cartoons or other media (The '87 movie) that were not made in the vintage line were off limits. That was at least until that arrangement was made with Classic Media back in 2011 or so.

    So, I guess my question is when did this change? I just find it odd that after all the discussions about rights and such that this topic never came up before.
    I'm a little confused too. But I think what Toyguru is saying is that this is the case - until 2023. Not sure what happens afterwards

  20. #20
    Heroic Warrior Toyguru's Avatar
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    After 2023, Universal gets it all which means Hasbro (or anyone) can bid to make He-Man toys.

    Heck, for a while Hasbro was going to buy Dreamworks and if that happened Mattel would have been paying Hasbro royalties for motuc. How crazy is that!

  21. #21
    Heroic Warrior Amentep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan View Post
    I'm a little confused too. But I think what Toyguru is saying is that this is the case - until 2023. Not sure what happens afterwards
    If all the rights legitimately belong to Dreamworks Classics, then it sounds like after that point the toy license wouldn't need to go through Mattel at all anymore, they'd only go through Dreamworks Classics.

    EDIT: That said, the 2014 rights lawsuit over He-Man was between Don Glut and Mattel not Classic Media...
    Last edited by Amentep; January 4, 2017 at 06:09pm.

  22. #22
    Tri-Solar Lord Oceanwalker's Avatar
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    Thanks to the (great person) who PM'd me since Scotty was too busy to do it while he browsed multiple forums simultaneously.

    I still don't understand the point of posting the same message over multiple forums though. One place should have been enough unless some grandstanding was involved.

  23. #23
    Heroic Warrior Stygian360's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toyguru View Post
    After 2023, Universal gets it all which means Hasbro (or anyone) can bid to make He-Man toys.

    Heck, for a while Hasbro was going to buy Dreamworks and if that happened Mattel would have been paying Hasbro royalties for motuc. How crazy is that!
    It's amazing to me how many times you've hopped in Scott to essentially reiterate the same party line about the rights to MOTUC (I for one appreciate the effort) and yet people who A) don't work for Mattel, B) really have no idea as to the legalities, are continually attempting to correct you. No wonder fandom couldn't sort out its left from its right during the heyday of MOTUC- hence the reason for much of the conspiracy theories that resulted and general hater chat. Anyway, keep fighting the good fight, Scott.
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  24. #24
    Heroic Warrior PantherCult's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shecky View Post
    Scott's response (in the first post) was after this post from Emiliano that you posted.
    Yep - which is why I posted this in the entry immediately preceding your post:

    Quote Originally Posted by PantherCult
    So, I guess I missed a bunch of back and forth between Emiliano and Scott after the quote I posted.
    I thought he was quoting the initial assertion and missed that he was quoting a clarification - and I acknowledged my error.

    And Scott came in and cleaned up even further. So it sounds like we all have a MUCH better understanding of ownership and rights for this property now

    It is crazy to think that in just 6 years time the rights to make He-Man/Masters of the Universe toys could be granted to a company other than Mattel. I don't see Hasbro doing the same with G.I. Joe somehow.

  25. #25
    Ravage ThunderCat blackiecats's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toyguru View Post
    Last thing I want to do is add any confusion! Especially for a brand I don't work on.

    From the best of my knowledge (which is limited
    And I do NOT speak for Mattel) Mattel has first pass/option at toy rights (through 2023). That is why they can do anyone made as a toy in vintage era until 2023. But toy rights still required paying a royalty to the entertainment rights holder.

    To do toys based on any entertainment (i.e. Filmation) required a deal with the owner of the entertainment rights which is currently Universal.

    Does that help?
    I get what your saying. Basically even though Mattel hold the license to make MOTU toys, with Universal now owning the rights to the entertainment side of the brand, Mattel have to pay the license holder (now Universal) a royalty for the use of the brand. Since with She-Ra being the rights are split, I'm guessing the royalty for those was higher than what was paid on the MOTU figures?

    I think ThunderCats had a similar deal where Telepictures owned the entertainment side of things, while Leisure Concepts Inc owned the merchandise rights. Luckily though for ThunderCats, it's now all under the ownership of a single company.

    One thing I don't get though is why Mattel only have the toy rights until 2023?
    Most wanted Filmation style MOTUC figures:

    Hunga the Harpy, Webstor, Kobra Khan, Leech, Whiplash, Rattlor, Catra Cat Form, Ram Man, Count Marzo, Two-Bad, King Miro, Twiggets, Frosta, Kothos and Admiral Scurvy.

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