Awhile back we ran an article about the US Navy’s latest robot resembling a Japanese Twitter meme called Homo.
Originally created to mock the homoerotic anime-loving Japanese female (fujoshi), homo is a somewhat humanoid creature the crawls along on all fours and utters “homooooo” as it searches far and wide for gay porn.
On twitter this little guy/gal/thing is represented by the ASCII characters ┌（┌ ＾o＾）┐, however several artistic depictions can be found on twitter or if you check our previous article.
The cute little whatever has found a following among the Japanese internet to the point that some are trying to profit from Homo. A reporter from Byokan Sunday recently encountered a capsule machine with a line of Homo figurines, but is this legal?
To be fair, this toy isn’t labeled as “Homo” – or anything for that matter – it simply has \300 (US$3.65) written on black paper. In this particular photo the store, Village Vanguard, had put up a sign identifying it as Homo.
Perhaps by leaving the name unsaid the maker, Wanderlu Toys, hope to avoid any legal action by the original creator – if they even know who they are. On the other hand, accessory maker Masameya has been producing Homo-themed items openly on Amazon with the name intact.
So either Homo’s original creator doesn’t know or doesn’t care about this merchandising. Or perhaps as long as it’s on a small scale like key chains and T-shirts it’s human nature just to let it slide.
Take a beloved ASCII mascot of 2chan, Giko Neko. In 2002 popular toy maker Takara tried to trademark the image of Giko Neko. It wasn’t until 2chan head Hiroyuki Nishimura intervened and challenged the claim that Takara backed off.
While making a series of Giko Neko T-Shirts probably wouldn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers, a major company essentially attempting to pirate the image solely for itself just doesn’t fly.
So before you happen to create the next Raptor Jesus; it’s commendable to let people enjoy and share the fun freely, but it may also be wise to keep an eye on your creation before it becomes the next logo of 7-Up.
If the case of Takara isn’t enough then you can look to France and Franklin Loufrani, a journalist who had the wherewithal to trademark a yellow happy face in printed in his newspaper. He certainly wasn’t the first to make such an image but he was the first to officially claim the rights to the shared symbol of global culture.
His son Nicolas is currently the CEO of The Smiley Company, ranked by Licensemag as the 90th top licenser in the world with sales of US$167M. And if it weren’t for the Loufrani family, Wal Mart might be enjoying ownership of the happy face right now.
So whoever is close to originally typing that Homo really should get on trademarking it. Of course, as the rights holder they can continue to allow people to make knick-knacks whenever like it is now. However, if Homo becomes the next mascot of Burger King, as delicious as their burgers are, they don’t deserve to own it flat out.
That seems kind of gay.
Source: Byokan Sunday (Japanese)
▼ Notice the Kobito-Dukan hanging in the background?
▼The Tama-chan of Byokan got an unpopular (non-existant?) crying Homo.
▼ Artist’s interpretation of Homo from Twitter