Does Toho owns the Japanese word for whale?

Published on 25 November 2008

Wired wrote an article about Godzilla and its lawers. While it's true that Toho is pretty serious on protecting their brand Godzilla, it gets somewhat surprising when they extend their attacks to the suffix "-zilla", very common in the Mozilla related projects and blog. As a side note, mozdev has a policy to refuse to host any Mozilla/Firefox extension with the suffix -zilla. I can understand them, they just don't want to get in trouble.

But where does the term Godzilla come from? It's a contraction from Gorilla and Kujira. Let's be clearer:

  • Gorilla (ゴリラ): yep, like in English, a pretty big and strong ape
  • Kujira (鯨・クジラ): a whale, pronounced "kujila"

Gozilla is written in Japanese ゴジラ, pronounced "gojila". I guess it's supposed to mean that he's as strong and fierce as an gorilla, and as big as a whale.

In short, by attacking any -zilla suffix (and winning), it looks like Toho actually owns the Japanese word for "whale".

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