Weekly E-News, Issue #236, October 30, 2007

Better Homes, Wal-Mart Ink Licensing Pact
Meredith Corp. announced a multiyear licensing agreement with Wal-Mart to design and market a line of home goods based on Meredith’s 7.7-million circulation flagship Better Homes and Gardens brand.

The products will include items like bedding, bath accessories, and dinnerware and are expected to be available exclusively in Wal-Mart stores by fall 2008.

The deal, whose financial terms were not released, builds on an existing licensing agreement between Wal-Mart and Meredith for garden and outdoor products.

The Wal-Mart pact is the second major one involving the Better Homes brand to come in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Meredith announced a licensing deal with Realogy Corp., parent of Century 21 and Coldwell Banker.

Macy’s, Hilfiger in Exclusive Deal
Macy's Inc. will be the exclusive U.S. department store retailer for Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A men’s and women's sportswear starting next fall. As part of the agreement, Macy’s will have a larger selection of Hilfiger merchandise in all its stores and online, and will increase the number of Hilfiger shops in high-volume stores. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Tommy Hilfiger already is one of the most successful vendor resources at Macy’s and a brand that our customers expect to find in our stores,” says Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s chairman, president, and CEO. He said the deal “will bring our customers an increasing level of compelling and distinctive fashions that are consistent with their aspirations and lifestyles.”

Tommy Hilfiger Group will continue to operate its own freestanding stores and sell its products on tommy.com.

Fred Gehring, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Group, said the deal would enable the company to focus on one nationwide account. At the same time, he said the Group would expand its freestanding Tommy Hilfiger stores in key locations across the country.
 
DIC Files $20 Million Lawsuit Against Troll Company
DIC Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Troll Company in federal court in Los Angeles, alleging claims of fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation in connection with two TC brands that DIC licensed from TC— the Good Luck Troll, a 1950s-era troll doll created in Denmark and the Trollz, a modernized version of the Good Luck Troll that was created by DIC in 2003.

DIC’s complaint alleges that, pursuant to the terms of the licensing agreements, DIC successfully created, developed, and marketed the Trollz, simultaneously attempting to reinvigorate sales of the Good Luck Troll. Before entering into the licensing agreements, however, DIC alleges that it expressed concern about the sale of counterfeit Good Luck Trolls and other infringing products, since such knock-off products threatened to undermine the value of the both the Classic Trolls and the Trollz.

In response, DIC alleges, TC repeatedly assured DIC that TC had been vigilant in stamping out any counterfeits and other infringing products and, indeed, expressly represented and warranted that, at the time the parties entered into the licensing agreements, TC was not aware of any infringement of the Good Luck Trolls.

DIC alleges that, at the time that TC made these representations to DIC, TC knew that the Good Luck Troll was the subject of widespread infringement, with unauthorized sales of counterfeit trolls persisting on a global scale. DIC alleges that, in reliance on TC’s fraud, DIC devoted years of painstaking effort and nearly $20 million to develop and promote the Good Luck Troll and Trollz properties, whose value had (without DIC’s knowledge) been compromised by rampant infringement.

DIC’s lawsuit seeks damages of approximately $20 million, plus attorney fees and punitive damages.

Mattel Recalls Diego Toys
Mattel recalled more than 55,000 toys sold in the UK, Republic of Ireland, the United States, and Canada because of concerns over the level of lead in the paint of the Fisher-Price Go, Diego, Go! Animal Rescue Boat. The recall is for toys sold after June and follows the recall of over 2 million toys in August.

Nike Scores with Umbro
Nike has bought soccer brand Umbro for $582 million. Umbro’s directors unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the offer for the 70-year-old heritage brand.

The acquisition will expand Nike’s share in soccer, a key growth category for the company. Since the early 1990s, Nike has grown its soccer revenues from about $40 million to approximately $1.5 billion. Umbro sells products directly or through licensees in more than 90 countries and has sports marketing relationships with many soccer players, teams and leagues, including the England national team.

Disney Magic Comes to Tesco
UK-based supermarket Tesco and Disney Consumer Products UK are to launch a line of branded food products featuring Disney and Disney/Pixar characters. The range will include healthy food items such as fresh fruits, plus other product categories that will conform to nutritional guidelines on calorie, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium content. In addition, no artificial flavors or colors and no added trans fats will be used in any of the products.

The range is in line with Disney’s focus on promoting healthier foods to children, announced last year. Tesco has made a commitment to finding new and innovative ways to make it easier for their customers to live healthier lives.

The first Tesco/Disney-branded kids foods will launch in November and comprise a variety of fresh fruits such as apples, pears, and bananas. By January 2008, a broad range of products is expected to be available across the UK and Ireland, including yogurts, breakfast cereals, fruit juices, bakery items, and milk. More products will be added over the next 12 months.

XTerra License Secured for Performance Sporting Goods
20 Degrees North signed a licensing agreement with TEAM Unlimited to design, market, and produce performance and lifestyle footwear, apparel, and accessories under the XTerra brand name. All products—geared for the ageless, active-minded multi-sport athlete—draw their inspiration from the roots of the XTerra Race Series.

The partnership was announced at the 12th Annual XTerra World Championships on Maui this past Sunday, with the first products for running, trail running and outdoor training launching in January at the Outdoor Retailer show. 

XTerra’s new line will include footwear designed by two ex-Nike designers who have also developed products for Puma and Steve & Barry’s.

Cherokee Brand Expands to India
Cherokee Inc. agreed to an exclusive international licensing deal for its Cherokee brand with Arvind Mills Ltd., an Indian textile company. The multiyear agreement includes men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, footwear, accessories, home, and other categories. Cherokee said the deal allows it to expand as a large family lifestyle brand across India.

Bulldog Acquires Rights to Little Ewe
Bulldog Licensing has penned two deals for its Little Ewe property—with Danilo for greetings cards, wrap, and tags, and with Posh Paws for plush toys and gifts.

Managing director Rob Corney says, “Our core areas are greetings cards and gifts. Danilo and Posh Paws share our enthusiasm for this marvelous property.”

Little Ewe is a sheep that wandered away from the flock and got lost. On his travels he meets up with friends such as Popcorn Pig and Lilac Moo, a cow.

Parthenon Kids Lends a Hand to Rescue Rookies
Parthenon Kids, the children’s production and distribution arm of UK-based Parthenon Entertainment, has optioned the rights to the “Rescue Rookies” animated preschool series from UK production company Bada Bling. Parthenon has the exclusive rights to further develop the series and pitch the idea to broadcasters and will own the rights in all media worldwide for broadcast to license.

Entertainments Rights Secures International Sales 
Following October’s Brand Licensing Europe and MIPCOM events, Entertainment Rights has secured a number of international deals for its portfolio of properties.

The new BBC-commissioned series of “Postman Pat Special Delivery Service (SDS),” which has already secured a broadcast agreement with Super RTL in Germany, is in discussion with broadcasters in Denmark, Hong Kong, the Middle East, and Malaysia.

An extensive licensing program for Rupert Bear is in place to support the highly rated TV series, “Rupert Bear Follow the Magic,” currently airing on Channel 5’s Milkshake! block. At Brand Licensing Europe, new licenses were secured with William Lamb for footwear and H&A for toiletries. New TV broadcast agreements signed at MIPCOM include TVP in Poland and MBC in the Middle East, cementing the international rollout of Rupert Bear that already includes France 5, Super RTL (Germany), NRK (Norway), and TVO (Canada).

For the newly launched “Finley the Fire Engine” animated preschool TV series, ER is in negotiation with four major toy companies. Licensee Paul Lamond has been signed for jigsaw puzzles and board games and will be launching product at Spring Fair 2008. Publisher Titan will produce a monthly magazine, which is anticipated to launch at retail in April 2009. Agreements have also been signed with international broadcasters including ABC in Australia, NRK in Norway, and C4U South Korea, as well as negotiations with new partners in the Middle East, Thailand, and Poland.

HarperCollins has signed a five-year agreement for Basil Brush publishing rights. Basil’s live-events program in partnership with Duo Entertainment has also been extended with a new licensing agreement. “The Basil Brush Show” now has a broadcast platform in more than 85 territories for “Jim Jam & Sunny,” which is broadcasting on ITV, CITV, and GMTV in the UK, a wide range of new licensees has been signed that include plush product from Gosh. Recent TV broadcast agreements include Al Jazeera in the Middle East and Astro in Malaysia.

In ER’s Classic Media properties portfolio, “George of the Jungle” secured further international broadcast agreements including ATV in Hong Kong and Cartoon Network in Italy, adding to the 40 territories already secured.

Following the international success of “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” presale negotiations continue on a new “Casper’s Scare School” animated television series, currently in production for TF1 (France) and Cartoon Network Europe. “Casper the Friendly Ghost” also received widespread interest from retailers and licensees interested in the property for Halloween 2008.

Global Brands Appoints Captivity Headwear for 2010 World Cup
Global Brands Group signed a deal with Cape Town-based Captivity Headwear to distribute official 2010 FIFA World Cup licensed caps, hats, beanies, and other headwear products.

Under its worldwide manufacturing agreement, Mainland Holdings Headwear will produce official FIFA World Cup branded hats. Product is expected to be available in South Africa in late 2007.

FIFA appointed Global Brands Group in 2005 as its worldwide licensing representative and store operator for FIFA branded stores from 2007 to 2014. Additionally, Global Brands Group will act as the on-site concessionaire for all FIFA events throughout this eight-year term.

MTV Makes Israeli Debut
MTV Networks International’s (MTVNI) Emerging Markets group is to the launch its first MTV service in Israel, in partnership with television and digital media business Ananey Communications.

MTV Israel debuts this month (October) as a video-enabled Hebrew language Internet service, created by a local team. The site provides Israeli youths with a full-screen television experience that showcases music videos from both international and local artists as well as MTV shows including “Punk’d,” “Pimp My Ride,” “Beavis and Butthead,” and “The Virgin Diaries” translated into Hebrew, plus locally produced shows.

Iron Kid Finds Fame in U.S.
The Spanish BRB Internacional series “Iron Kid,” airing in open-broadcast format in the United States on the program Kids WB! under the title “Eon Kid,” has become the most-viewed children’s show in open-broadcast on Saturday mornings in America. Meanwhile, the Spanish multinational Famosa has launched the first line of toys inspired by the series, including a replica of the Fist of Eon that empowers the saga’s protagonist and a range of action figures based on the main characters.

The show is co-produced by BRB Internacional, Screen 21, Manga Entertainment, Designstorm, Daewon Media, and TVE.

Fireman Sam Joins Up with New UK Broadcast Partners
HIT Entertainment has signed two new UK broadcast partners for the preschool show “Fireman Sam.” Five and Cartoonito have licensed a mix of new and existing “Fireman Sam” programming scheduled for broadcast in spring 2008. Five has licensed the first five series and a 20-minute special of “Fireman Sam” and plans to launch on Milkshake!, the channel’s preschool block, in 2008. 

Turner Broadcasting’s Cartoonito has licensed three series of “Fireman Sam,” including the two new series in high-definition CGI. Cartoonito was launched as a full preschool channel on Sky 619 earlier this year, having previously been a successful block on Cartoon Network Too.

Meanwhile, HIT Entertainment and Child Accident Prevention Trust, a UK charity working to prevent serious childhood injury as a result of accidents, have formed a partnership to help raise awareness of child safety issues. Fireman Sam will act as a spokesperson for the charity’s marketing and promotional activity including Halloween, Bonfire Night, and the charity’s annual Child Safety Week in June 2008. 

Barcode Kitties Goes East
CopCorp completed a Barcode Kitties renewal agreement with Dubai-based Stag International to expand its territory and licensed product categories for the girl’s character-branded property.

Stag International renewed its rights to manufacture and market Barcode Kitties stationery, notebooks, bags, ceramic mugs, breakfast sets, and children’s T-shirts, as well as melamine and plasticware throughout the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Lebanon.

Additionally, Stag has secured licensing rights to expand its territory to include Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, and Yemen and to expand its product range to manufacture and sell Barcode Kitties slippers, mouse pads, tins, lunch kits, and trolley sets.

‘The Owl’ Secures Deal with Jetix
TV-Loonland has secured a raft of content deals for its one-minute short series “The Owl,” including a pan-regional pay-TV rights agreement with Jetix covering the United States, Latin America, the Nordic Territories, Japan, India, and Pakistan.

Further, TV-Loonland has licensed pay-TV rights to French broadcaster Canal J and Mini Mini Poland.

“The Owl,” already being aired on BBC, will be seen on Canadian free- and pay-TV with YTV and Societe Radio Canada (SRC) acquiring the series. Free-TV rights have been picked up by Veo TV Digital Spain, DR TV Denmark, and the Polish pre-school channel Canal + Cyfrowy.

The series, featuring an unfortunate Owl facing the daily challenge of staying in one piece, has also been sold to Universal Family Entertainment in Germany for home video. 

Non-exclusive mobile rights for the UK have been granted to Player X with Vivendi Mobile Entertainment picking up rights for France. Free VOD and IPTV rights have been licensed to Bonsai Channel in Italy.

Hot Topic Goes Retro with Pokémon
Hot Topic is looking to catch all tween and teen Pokémon fans with a collection of retro style and Japanese influence apparel and accessories. In stores for the holidays, the collection includes a variety of vivid-hue T-shirts, a cotton-knit lounge/boxer set, an all-over print zip-up men’s hoodie, belt buckle, canvas tote bags with foil appliqué and stitching embellishments, pen set, journals, rubber buttons, stickers, key chains, cell phone charms and wrist bands.

Crow Croons over New Denim Line
Pop star Sheryl Crow will be singing the blues—blue jeans that is, as the singer partners with Western Glove Works on a collection of denim-based apparel under the newly formed lifestyle brand Bootheel Trading Co. The debut collection, due fall 2008, will include mid-priced jeans, denim jackets, and tops.
 
Fulham Group Cooks Up Deal
The Fulham Group nabbed exclusive rights to the Cuisinart brand for outdoor grilling tools and accessories, with plans to launch initial products at department and specialty stores in January 2008. The 15- to 20-sku Cuisinart Grilling Tools and Accessories line includes open-stock tools and accessories, as well as multipiece gift sets. The company also plans to create grill-top products such as grilling platters, baskets, and woks.

The Site Is Right
FremantleMedia Enterprises partnered with television social community portal developer, DAVE Networks, on www.priceisright.com, the new official Web site for the popular game show “The Price Is Right,” now hosted by Drew Carey. The site will feature games, behind-the-scenes videos, Bob Barker’s Classic Moments, Drew’s Video Blog, and more. The site will also feature a community where fans can create profiles, blog about their favorite game show, and talk to other members through the site’s message boards and internal messaging system.

Duo’s New Series Is for the Dogs
CCI Entertainment and Scholastic Media partnered on new series “Racer Dogs,” with CCI responsible for worldwide rights outside of the U.S. market and Scholastic Media responsible for managing all rights in the United States. The show, based on the book by illustrator Bob Kolar, follows the adventures of a dog-filled community wild about racing.

MerryMakers “Dolls Up” Literary Princess
MerryMakers will be producing a line of 9-inch plush dolls and 3-inch finger puppets of Princess Baby, the first character book from Karen Katz. The deal was negotiated by Act III Licensing. Product will hit retail shelves starting in February 2008. The dolls will be aimed at specialty stores, bookstores, and catalogs.

Junk Food To “Bear” It All
The Metis Group LLC adds Junk Food to the roster of partners for Smokey Bear as the company continues to represent the property for the USDA Forest Service through 2008. Junk Food plans a collection of junior, men’s, infant, toddler, tween, youth, and contemporary women’s Ts.

SaraMax to Support It’s Happy Bunny
SaraMax Apparel Group will be creating a line of products for Jim Benton’s It’s Happy Bunny and Baby It’s Happy Bunny, including newborn/infant/toddler layette and playwear; toddlers’ sleepwear sets; girls’ and juniors’ constructed bras with coordinating panties; girls’ and juniors’ coordinated spandex workout wear; and kitchen accessories.

Brand Central Adds Sabrina Bryan
Brand Central LLC signed an exclusive consumer products representation deal with Sabrina Bryan, the breakout star of both “The Cheetah Girls” and “Dancing With the Stars” franchises. Brand Central is currently in negotiations with licensees as well as retailers and will make announcements shortly.

Sis Boom Signs a Deal
United Media, a leading licensing and syndication company, has signed on to represent Jennifer Byrne Paganelli’s Sis Boom, to create a sophisticated vintage home and personal accessories program.  Inspired by memories of her childhood in the sparkling blue Caribbean, a successful background in commercial textiles with Knoll, and a love for all things beautiful, Sis Boom delivers a unique vintage look and feel.

Upper Deck Inks Book Deal
Upper Deck and Blizzard Entertainment have partnered on a hardcover book titled World of Warcraft: The Art of the Trading Card Game, due in January 2008. The 288-page book will include more than 300 full-color iconic pieces of art featured during the first year of release of the World of Warcraft TCG.

Marathon Enjoys a Successful MIPCOM
For Marathon Media, the recent MIPCOM show led to a bonanza of new deals, among them:

Package deals for documentaries were signed with Czech TV, Duna TV (Hungary), Pravi Provodi (Serbia), and Spectrum (the Czech Republic and Hungary). Sales negotiations are in advanced stages with Slovak TV and RTV Slovenia. The deals include “Final Days of an Icon,” “Mystica,” “Being Beautiful,” “What’s That About,” children’s documentary series “This is My Country,” “My Life on the Farm,” “Weather’s Wonders,” “Weird and Funny Animals,” and wildlife specials “Sea Lions” and “The Lemurs.”

RTV Slovenia bought the animated series “MBC,” Lithuania’s LNK purchased the fifth season of “Totally Spies,” and “Marsupilami” was acquired by Russia’s Channel 1, Duna TV in Hungary, and Slovenian channel RTV.

Fiction sales were also impressive with sales of “15/Love” and “The Challengers” to Russian Report. “Secrets: Every Woman Is a Suspect” recorded sales to TV Markiza (Slovakia) and Hungary’s RTL Klub, with negotiations well underway in Poland, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Croatia (video rights).

Toy Companies Head to Court
Hong Kong-based Silverlit Toys Manufactory Ltd., an acknowledged leader in the development and manufacturing of high-quality electronic toys, and Spin Master Ltd., Silverlit’s North American distribution partner and owner of the well-known Air Hogs brand of flying toys, have jointly filed a lawsuit against KB Toys and Westminster Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to stop sales of a competing Mini Helicopter.

The lawsuit alleges that the Thunder Wolf Mini Indoor MicroLite Helicopter infringes certain U.S. design patents owned by Silverlit, creator of the Havoc Heli  licensed by Spin Master and sold as the Air Hogs Havoc Heli.

Further, the lawsuit contends that KB and Westminster conspired to copy the popular Air Hogs Havoc Heli and replace those sales with the infringing Thunder Wolf. In addition to an injunction against further sales, the lawsuit also seeks damages for past sales.

Iota Surface Design Company Right on “Target”
Debuting this month, Target stores nationwide are carrying stationery essentials from surface design firm Iota, based in Basalt, Colo. Two thank-you note sets and gift wrap featuring Iota’s signature patterns will be on shelves through April 2008. The deal with Target marks the first collaborative licensing effort between Iota and greeting card and stationery manufacturer American Greetings, a major supplier and partner to Target Corp. More Iota licensed patterns will appear on notecards and gift wrap in Target stores beyond April 2008 and into fall of next year.

Lenox Teams with Janna Ugone
Lenox announces the debut of  Janna Ugone’s Tabella dinnerware collection. Ugone, noted for a longstanding tradition of creating handmade heirloom-quality lighting, clocks, and switch plates, worked closely with the product development team at Lenox to craft a collection for the table that reflects the wide-ranging appeal of Janna’s art. The resulting Tabella collection, designed exclusively for Lenox, effectively translated the Ugone aesthetic to functional yet lively dinnerware for the home.

Execs on the Move
Target Entertainment appointed Richard Oren to the newly created role of vice president licensing USA, Canada, and Latin America. Oren will be based at Target Entertainment’s U.S. East Coast office. Among his tasks will be to launch the U.S. and Canadian licensing programs for the $65 million movie The Nutcracker to coincide with its release in winter 2008.

Reebok appointed Mike O’Toole president of its North American operations.

LeapFrog Enterprises appointed David Schwartz to vice president of game development and Christopher Miller to vice president of marketing.

Hidden City Games named Luke Crane and Jared A. Sorensen to the newly created positions of senior game designer.

Liz Allen was promoted to associate product manager for CopCorp Licensing.

United Media upped Liz Murphy to executive director of international licensing and Susan Osit to executive director of corporate finance and international licensing.

Breakthrough Films & Television hired Alethea Robinson as manager, marketing and communications, and promoted Amy Marcella and Stephanie van Bruggen to supervising producer and upped Paul Nash to art director.

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