- No Export for You: A large assortment of absolutely hideous legal snarls between Harmony Gold, Studio Nue/Satelight, Tatsunoko Production, and Big West especially the last two means that virtually nothing of the franchise that hadn't already been incorporated into the original Robotech adaptation (i.e. Super Dimension Fortress Macross) has seen the light of day outside of Japannote .
- Macross Plus apparently only got released in the West due to the absolutely titanic pressure that fans, critics, and other distributors put on the parties involved to not completely sit on triple-A-quality material needlessly (also, Harmony Gold was in a state of chaos at the time thanks to a staff-hunting raid by Haim Saban)note .
- Despite the insane sales of Macross Frontier's DVDs and soundtracks (which ended up posting sales numbers that had not seen in at least a decade), any plans for export look extremely unlikely. Likewise, Macross 7, Macross Zero, and various video-game projects and the like will almost certainly never see release overseas either.
- In fact, Macross Frontier's incredible popularity works against it. Even if all the parties to the legal morass were to agree to let it get licensed at all, it would cost any licensor (especially an American one) several appendages and probably a few internal organs to get it, and that's before having to deal with Harmony Gold and their notorious price-gouging. And that is before having to deal with the hell that is Japanese record companies and music rights.
- As it turns out, the only part of Frontier to receive any sort of Western release were the manga.
- It's gotten so bad that industry insiders have said that it's likely nobody knows who has international rights for some bits of the Macross franchise, particularly Macross: Do You Remember Love?
- Robert Woodhead, AnimEigo's CEO, once said he does not expect to ever see a legal US release of Do You Remember Love? because of the titanic, multi-side battle (it's not just the usual culprits like Harmony Gold in the way, but apparently also Shogakukan, Toho and a few others who have some sort of interest in the film).
- For those readers who want to know how Harmony Gold (an American company) got into the Japanese legal snarl in the first place, you can thank some nameless, dense California judge. Harmony Gold created the Frankenstein's monster that is Robotech (see its entry), and as the legal battles over international rights heated up in Japan, they got involved to try and keep from losing the series a Japanese court declared in 2003 that Tatsunoko never had the right to grant a license to Harmony Gold in the first place, which normally would have voided the original 1985 contract
except that American courts rarely acknowledge decisions from foreign courts (in fact, some states outright ban judges from doing so). This judge allegedly granted Harmony Gold not only exclusive control of the international distribution of the original Macross, but also inexplicably gave them permanent rights to license and distribute every Macross-related series that will ever exist. In other words, HG holds the trademark on Macross outside Japan and there's nothing the original creators can do about it except just refuse to license it out (which is exactly what they do) as a middle finger to Harmony Gold.
- Tatsunoko, their bad blood having deepened since losing the fight in Japan (specifically, it was ruled that they own the original footage and international licensing rights for SDF Macross, but not the rest of the franchise), has taken advantage of the international legal confusion and continues to renew Harmony Gold's license (including the trademarks), as a middle finger to Big West and Studio Nue. At last check, Harmony Gold controls Macross outside of Japan until at least 2018... And by then there's a high chance they'd renew it again, pissing off the Macross fanbase. Big West and Studio Nue could try and get HG's contract voided in an American court and they could win if they pressed it. But fighting complicated contract disputes in the USA is an incredibly expensive prospect, and no one in Japan wants to pay for that (there's also the not-exactly-wrong perception that American courts are inherently biased against foreign litigants see the Apple/Samsung patent lawsuits for an example).
- That said, the planned Robotech movie with Sony Pictures could finally give Studio Nue and Big West their chance to take Harmony Gold to court, because Box Office Bomb or not, Hollywood movie deals are potential big bucks, and Hollywood movie adaptations are not something that slips under the radar so easily. Not to mention that the original creators of Macross are no doubt frowning upon this project (the same way Shotaro Ishinomori reacted to Saban's Masked Rider)note .
- In 2017, as part of lead-up for the latest stage in the below-mentioned case, Harmony Gold took Tatsunoko into arbitration, to reaffirm their legal position ready for the case... and lost! While Harmony Gold had initially been forced to release Macross back to Tatsunoko in 2021, news emerged in July 2019 that they managed to hammer out an amended deal with Tatsunoko that extended that agreement until an unspecified date, to the utter dismay of Macross fans worldwide. On the bright side of things, Harmony Gold has finally lost the rights to Macross in the UK and Australia to Big West, and Big West is currently trying to reclaim the rights to the franchise in the rest of the European Union.
- This legal snarl also caused some severe issues with the BattleTech franchise. FASA had bought (or they believed they had bought) rights to the designs in good faith, from Studio Nue themselves, and used the designs without molestation for 10 yearsnote . However, FASA and Playmates Toys got into a legal battle when Playmates created several toys for their Exo Squad line that closely resembled their BattleTech equivalents (at the time, FASA was finalizing both toy and TV deals for BattleTech); naturally, FASA sued. However, Harmony Gold had sublicensed Robotech to Playmates as a tie-in to Exo Squad, and when they noticed that FASA was using the Macross designs, they naturally counter-sued. Nobody quite knows what the actual settlement in the cases were, but official word from Catalyst Game Labs, FASA's successor company, is that the discontinuation of the Macross, Crusher Joe and Fang of the Sun Dougram (of which the latter two were not owned in any way by HG) designs was part of an internal decision by FASA to bar all designs not created in-house in order to avoid any potential legal hassles, and not a legal mandate from a court. This policy, funnily enough, also forced FASA to stop using designs made specifically for them by Studio Nue for Japanese releases of BattleTech. However, since 2009, Catalyst has felt comfortable in resurrecting the Dougram and Crusher Joe mechs (realizing that the law is most likely on their side there), and as of late 2015, Mechwarrior Online has been successfully re-releasing the Macross-based "Warhammer" and "Marauder" designs, suggesting that Catalyst has worked out some kind of deal regarding Macross...
- Notably, in the 2009 incident, Harmony Gold, against existing copyright at the time, and a letter sent to them by Studio Nue and Tatsunoko forbidding them from continuing the lawsuit, were able to point out a clause in the settlement which meant they effectively could still override Studio Nue, and they later, in 2017, did exactly the same thing to Harebrained Schemes, Catalyst's successor! note
- On a side note, Tommy Yune, representative for Harmony Gold, has stated that they're willing to license Macross Zero and sublicense it to whoever wants to pay their price; Harmony Gold may charge sublicensors out the nose, but it's actually in their interests to have as much of the Macross franchise licensed as possible, so they can earn royalties on it (they don't get squat from anything in Japan). As such, they'd no doubt also love to bring Macross 7 and every other Macross series to North America. However, the Japanese rights-holders, especially Big West, are quick to jump in and stop progress from happening, Big West having actively taken Zero's license off the market due to its massive grudge against HG for Robotech and keeping Tatsunoko relevantnote ..
- On top of all that, you've got the VF-1/Transformers: Generation 1 Jetfire issue. TakaraTomy can't reissue the original Jetfire figure (the VF-1 mold would now be owned by TakaraTomy and their American partner in crime Hasbro's joint toy industry rival Bandai - which is also why Hasbro can't reissue any of the original 80's toys of former Transformers rival Challenge of the GoBots, as Bandai licensed them to Tonka at the time), but thanks to a later court ruling between Hasbro and Harmony Gold (the latter had sued Hasbro when the former rereleased a Skystriker jet plane in VF-1 colors as part of a set of G.I. Joe/Transformers San Diego Comic-Con-exclusive toys.), Hasbro and Takara can now release new versions of G1 Jetfire in all of his Macross glory so long as they stick to the modern Hasbro-created redesign of Jetfire, and Harmony Gold can't do a thing to stop it.
- On the positive side, it seems that at least some of the parties involved may be trying to get around this with Macross Delta. The Japanese Blu-ray releases have the option for English subtitles, and Super Robot Wars, commonly saddled with the same issues due to liberal appearances by Macross, releasing in English in South East Asia, with several companies happily exporting to America and Europe.
- Also, Macross: Do You Remember Love? can be legally bought in the US (at least via export from Japan) in a format viewable on unmodified US equipment, thanks to the US and Japan finally sharing a common Blu-Ray region. However, though, as the Blu-Ray hovers around $100 new.
- The Wiki Rule: The Macross Wiki.
Trivia / Macross