Hollywood Docket: Hasbro v. DC; 'Reading Rainbow' Settlement; Disney Defends 'Zootopia'

A roundup of entertainment law news.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Bumblebee, one of the Autobots in the 'Transformers' movies

Anyone confused that "Bumblebee" is both the name of a Transformers character and a DC Comics superhero?

Hasbro apparently believes there's room for confusion as it has brought a trademark lawsuit against DC Comics and Warner Bros. The complaint, filed in New York federal court, asserts that the defendants have begun using "Bumblebee" in connection with a line of "Super Hero Girls" action toys.

"Defendants and/or their licensees are using the exact mark that is the subject of Hasbro’s BUMBLEBEE Trademark Registration for goods that are identical or closely similar to the goods listed therein and/or goods covered by Hasbro’s related common law trademark rights, including toy action figures, toy vehicles and building block construction sets," states the complaint.

Bumblebee as a superhero character first appeared in the Teen Titans comic book in 1976, while Transformers came sometime in the 1980s. Of course, the lawsuit deals with the origins of merchandise. Then again, it essentially implies that a consumer looking for a robot toy will wind up with a figurine.

Here's the complaint.

In other entertainment law news:

— A few weeks after a public broadcaster in Buffalo, N.Y., sued LeVar Burton and accused him of hijacking Reading Rainbow, a settlement has been reached. The dispute between WNED and Burton's RRKidz has actually been going on for more than a year over interpretation of a 2011 agreement, but WNED ratcheted up the stakes with a second complaint alleging copyright infringement, conversion, cybersquatting, violations of the Lanham Act, breach of contract and interference with customer relations. According to a letter to the judge on Monday, the parties have signed a settlement agreement that contemplates the dismissal of both actions. Terms haven't been revealed, either in court or on the podcast, LeVar Burton Reads

— Comic-Con is now over. Or at least the one in San Diego is. But the lawsuit over trademark rights survives. For now. The ones who run the Salt Lake Comic Con have filed their motion for summary judgment in part on the argument that Comic Con has become generic. The motion will be heard in a California federal courtroom on Sept. 21.

— Disney gets sued over Zootopia. The copyright plaintiff fails to plead sufficient copying. Now, round two, where plot similarities get more attention. Not enough, responds Disney's attorney in the latest dismissal bid. "Now that the Looney materials have finally emerged with Plaintiff’s amended complaint, the Court’s observations are confirmed," states the brief (read here). "[T]he additional descriptions and context provided by those materials show Looney and Zootopia bear no similarity, let alone the substantial similarity required to state a claim for copyright infringement."

— What came first — the chicken or the egg? What came first — the license agreement or jurisdiction

comments powered by Disqus