Sunday, May 27, 2007

Just Short of Being Suable

The pictures of this candy were pinched from the manufacturer's web site.

While I was picking up some milk and an avocado at QQ (99 yen convenience store), I noticed that there was a foil packet of candy with what appeared to be a Paul Stanley make-up design on it. For those who weren't alive or paying attention in the 70s, Paul Stanley is a singer and guitarist for KISS whose make-up design was a star over one eye. This particular candy is "soda" flavored (ramune in Japan).

Behind it was another variety of the same sort of "gumi" candy which made it more obvious that these designs were derivatives of KISS. The second one, lemon-flavored, has a modified version of Gene Simmons's make-up on it as well as a graphical representation of the top-knot he wears when in his stage get-up and pretty much clinches the fact that these two designs were not accidental imitations.

As a lapsed KISS fan who looks in on the doings of the band members from time to time, I know that Gene Simmons is meticulous about protecting his rights to the logos and make-up designs. If he finds out someone is trying to trample on his rights, he goes after them.

The truth is that I've seen plenty of stuff in Japan from time-to-time which does a riff design-wise on KISS's make-up. Some of the KISS-related designs are actually licensed and legal like the Canon advertisements that have appeared on trains and television. I'm not sure though that any companies doing knock-offs can be sued as the designs are (very likely) sufficiently modified to insulate them from legal action. Also, I have to wonder if the fact that KISS's look while in make-up resembled kabuki-style make-up would make it far more difficult for them to get anywhere should they decide to try and sue. Perhaps the Japanese could sue them for ripping them off first. ;-)


I did open up the lemon gumi and gave it a try. It was like chewing on a massively sour pencil eraser. I won't be trying another.

I also had one of those "you know you've been in Japan too long" moments when I sounded out the katakana on the front of the package and only then bothered to check and see that it's written on there in English lettering.

1 comment:

Luis said...

Simmons would not likely be very lucky; Japan's courts are not well-known for policing this kind of thing. Take for instance the Japanese magazine "Pureiboi." Sure, it's a porn mag and is named "Playboy," but the courts ruled that it was OK because they used Katakana instead of Romaji. Maybe things have changed since then, but I wouldn't bet too much on it.