Octonauts Lawsuit Accuses Companies of Unauthorized Spin-offs, NFT Sales Without Payment

News | July 2, 2024 By:

On Monday, June 17, 2024, Meomi Design, Inc. and Immedium, Inc. filed a complaint against Vampire Squid Productions, Ltd. and Wanda Kids Cultural Development Co. Ltd. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The complaint alleges breach of contract and details numerous violations of intellectual property rights relating to the globally popular children’s franchise Octonauts. According to the filing, Meomi Design owns the copyrights to the original Octonauts books, while Immedium has been the publisher. In 2007 and subsequent agreements, they granted licenses to produce audiovisual and merchandise adaptations to the predecessor of Vampire Squid Productions.

However, the complaint claims the defendants exceeded the scope of these licenses in several ways. Without seeking approval as required, three animated spin-off series were created—Octonauts Dinosaurs, Octonauts Calling Wilderness Team, and Octonauts: Journey to China. In addition, a new picture book series called Octonauts in the Wild was licensed, comprising over 170 titles so far. Live stage performances and theme parks featuring Octonauts characters were also launched in China.

Perhaps most controversially, the filing states that Wanda Kids Cultural Development partnered with several Chinese companies to sell Octonauts-themed non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, on blockchain-based marketplaces. Images including some of these initial character NFTs that debuted on the NFTCN platform in 2022 are included as evidence in the complaint. The plaintiffs allege these NFTs, like the other unauthorized adaptations, violate their rights, and they have not received any payments or approvals.

The complaint also raises issues with royalty payments. It claims no compensation has been received for licensing of Octonauts merchandise in China. Additionally, a “sweetheart deal” was allegedly struck between Vampire Squid and Wanda to absorb all revenue from China and cut the plaintiffs out of their share according to the contracts.

Monetary damages, discontinuation of unauthorized products, disgorgement of profits, and declaratory relief are among the remedies sought in the filing.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.