Hasbro files trademark lawsuit against Warner Bros and DC Comics over Bumblebee!
Entertainment trade website Variety is reporting that Hasbro is squaring off against Warner Bros and subsidiary DC Comics. The sticking point? The character name “Bumblebee.”
Bumblebee is, of course, everyone’s favorite yellow Autobot, and one of the first characters introduced when the Transformers toys and tie-in comics and cartoon debuted in 1984. Long-time fans will no doubt remember the years that Hasbro lost the trademark on the name (among several other G1 monikers). Versions of the character remained largely absent from the franchise until the live-action movie series began in 2007, where Bumblebee stepped into the spotlight as one of the film’s lead characters.
However, DC has a Bumblebee of their own, theirs being a teenage superhero with the ability to shrink. First appearing in DC’s Teen Titans comics in the 1970s, their Bumblebee predates Hasbro’s character by several years, appearing in countless comics, animation, and video games over her 40+ years.
Hasbro, owner of the Transformers brand, filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Warner Bros. and DC Comics of trademark infringement. The suit claims that the DC “Bumblebee” — a teenage girl with the ability to shrink — could easily be confused with the Autobot “Bumblebee.”
Hasbro has a lot riding on the “Bumblebee” character, set to star in the first Transformers spinoff, which is due in theaters at Christmas 2018.
The company is now seeking to block the sales of Mattel’s Bumblebee toy, which is part of the DC Super Hero Girls line of action figures. Hasbro is also concerned about a Bumblebee Lego set.
The issue, at the end of the day, comes down to merchandising. With Hasbro’s Bumblebee front and center in the movie franchise and DC’s Bumblebee prominently featured in the DC Super Hero Girls animated series, customers could see scads of merch featuring both characters on retail shelves at the same time. Merchandising often being more lucrative than the entertainment media itself, both parties will no doubt fiercely defend their use of the name. And while fans may find it silly to think that anyone could confuse an alien robot made of car parts for a teenage girl with wings, it’s important to keep in mind that parents and relatives buying gifts for children may not know the difference between the two characters.
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