Apple Strikes New Chip Licensing Deal; NBC’s Streaming Service to Include Lionsgate Movies; Disney Prepares for UK Streaming Service Debut; Warner Bros Launches New Film Trailer using TikTok; Disney Launches Official ‘Baby Yoda’ Merchandise, Strikes Back Against Unauthorised Sellers and more.
Apple Strikes New Chip Licensing Deal
Apple has struck a new licensing deal with British chipmaker, Imagination Technologies, more than two years after a high-profile breakdown in the companies’ relationship.
The longstanding bond between the two companies was hit by Apple’s decision to focus on developing its own graphics processor units (GPUs) for its tablets and smartphones. This sparked a dispute, with Imagination questioning Apple’s ability to manufacture its own GPUs without infringing the UK chipmaker’s patents.
On January 2, Imagination issued a brief press release which stated that it had replaced the multi-year, multi-use licence agreement with Apple, first announced on February 6, 2014, with a new multi-year licence agreement under which Apple has access to a wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property in exchange for licence fees.
NBC’s Streaming Service to Include Lionsgate Movies
Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Starz announced a new deal in December to license streaming content from one another. The long-term agreement will give NBC’s Peacock streaming service a fresh batch of content. It implies that when Peacock launches in April 2020, users will have access to hundreds of films and shows produced by Starz, which is owned by Lionsgate.
Peacock is set to offer more than 15,000 hours of NBC content, including new originals such as a “Saved By The Bell” reboot with members of the original cast, and “Dr. Death,” based on the popular podcast. It will also offer older series that aired on NBC including “The Office” (beginning in 2021), “Cheers” and “Friday Night Lights.”
The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement, nor details of shows and movies that will be licensed out. NBC will announce the final details for Peacock on January 16, 2020.
Disney Prepares for UK Streaming Service Debut
Disney, which owns crown jewels from the Star Wars and Marvel franchises, to Toy Story-maker Pixar and family favourites such as Frozen 2, is building a content arsenal to make sure its new Disney+ venture is a hit when it launches in the UK on March 31, 2020. To serve this purpose, it has pulled more than half of its TV box sets from Sky’s streaming service. Disney, which bought 21st Century Fox earlier this year, is trying to re-invent its business model for the streaming age by investing billions in making Disney+ the global home of most of its content.
The value of Disney’s content makes it a key partner for Sky. Likewise, Sky is an immensely profitable partner for Disney, and it is expected that even if Disney does pull back its prime movies and TV shows, its TV channels, such as Disney Junior and Disney XD, will continue to be broadcast to Sky’s 24 million pay-TV customers across Europe. Sky is expected to pull out all stops to try to keep Disney on-board.
Warner Bros Launches New Film Trailer using TikTok
In a first for the studio and TikTok, Warner Bros is streaming the global trailer debut for new film, “In the Heights”. The film fuses Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music and lyrics with Jon M. Chu’s direction, and is centered on the Washington Heights neighbourhood in New York. The film is slated for worldwide release on June 24, 2020, and in the U.S. on June 26, 2020. TikTok’s partnership with the studio validates the site’s mobile videos with hundreds of millions of users.
This is despite criticism by some U.S. lawmakers who have labelled the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok as a national security threat. The US Treasury Department is reportedly investigating whether TikTok is censoring content that is negative towards the Chinese government.
Disney Launches Official ‘Baby Yoda’ Merchandise, Strikes Back Against Unauthorised Sellers
Disney is finally cashing in on the ‘Baby Yoda’ craze, launching an official plush toy version of the Child, a character which made its debut on ‘The Mandalorian’, an original series on the Disney+ streaming platform. In a bid to keep the character reveal a secret, Disney had not launched any related merchandise until last week, but that did not stop fans from making and selling their own toys, t-shirts, and phone cases. The unexpected popularity of the character, coupled with Disney’s rush to bring official merchandise to the market, led most fans to prefer the artisanal and handmade versions. The gamble to delay licensed products beyond the holiday gifting season is estimated to have caused a loss of nearly USD 3 million to Disney.
However, Disney took swift action against unauthorised sellers of Baby Yoda merchandise on Etsy and other online marketplaces, sending them legal notices and having listings removed from platforms. Fan-made merchandise based on popular characters and scenes remains a grey area in both trademark and copyright infringement, with Disney being one among the few studios to take strict action.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar (Associate, BananaIP Counsels) and Tanvi Chaturvedi (Legal Intern)
The Licensing and E-Commerce News Bulletin is brought to you jointly by the E-Commerce Law and Consulting/Strategy Divisions of BananaIP Counsels, a Top IP Firm in India. If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please write to [email protected] with the subject: Licensing News.
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