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Hasbro vs DC: The Lawsuit Battle Over Bumblebee Trademark

The toy company, Hasbro files a lawsuit against DC Comics and Warner Brothers over “Bumblebee” trademark. These two big names in the superhero industry will face off in federal court over this. Neither of the two parties released a statement regarding this case, continue reading to find out more.

One of the most famous sci-fi films of this generation is the Transformers franchise. The film’s centers on Autobots who are basically vehicles that can transform themselves into robots to protect the world from Decepticons, their arch nemesis. For some people, the bumblebee is just a large yellow insect with a particular buzz, but to these companies, it is definitely more than that. One of the most famous Autobots is named Bumblebee, and that is what two big companies are literally fighter over at the moment, Hasbro and DC/Warner Bros. Let’s break it down, shall we?


Autobot Bumblebee in the Tranformers film franchise


Before the world became fascinated over the Transformers film franchise, it was originally a line of toys from a Japanese toy company called Takara Tomy and the American toy company, Hasbro. Hasbro is not just your ordinary American toy company, it is, in fact, one of the largest toy companies not just in the United States, but to the entire world. They acquired the trademarks over Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley, Kenner, and of course Bumblee and other Transformers action figures. They are also famous for one of the most popular board game, Monopoly, as well as Furby toys and G.I. Joe action figures.

This American toy company filed for the trademark on the name “Bumblebee” from the Transformers franchise last July 2015, and they were granted the rights on December of that same year. Come to think of it, when people hear the name Bumblebee, they would only think of two things: First is the insect itself, and second is the yellow Camaro Autobot, Bumblebee from the Transformers film franchise.


DC Comics is known for being the makers of the finest and some of the most popular superheroes such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more. They are also the makers of the DC Super Hero Girls, which are action figures and cartoon series specifically made for children. One of the characters is named Bumblebee, who is a teenage girl who has the ability to shrink. Ring any bells? Well, it has the same name as the Hasbro character from Transformers, which is why they filed a lawsuit.


In August 2017, Hasbro filed a lawsuit against DC and Warner Bros. for using the same name for their action figure/cartoon character. The toy company is now taking an action to be able to block the sales of the DC Super Hero Girls toy, Bumblebee. According to Hasbro, they began selling Bumblebee action figures and toys in 1983, even way before the film franchise were released. DC Comics and Warner Bros., on the other hand, announced that they will be releasing the DC Super Hero Girls action figures in April 2015, in partnership with Mattel, while the cartoon series will begin in October 2015. However, DC used the name first back in 1997, for the Teen Titans.
The conflict is that Hasbro filed for the rights to the Bumblebee trademark in July 2015, but was it was registered not until December.

Bumblebee from the DC Superhero Girls television series by Warner Bros.

The suit alleges that “Defendants’ and/or their licensees’ use of the accused mark is likely to cause consumers to believe that the accused goods emanate from or are otherwise associated with Hasbro.”


One of the reasons why Hasbro filed a lawsuit just recently is because it would make a conflict with the release of the upcoming Transformers spin-off that would feature Bumblebee, which will be released at either end of the year or the beginning of 2018. That would mean that they will also be releasing its franchise and DC’s Bumblebee Superhero action figure would spark confusion.

This is actually not the first time this happened. Some of the biggest companies in the world have had issues with trademark infringement, like the case between Facebook and Power Venture in 2009, Google against American Blind & Wallpaper Factory and more. It may seem so simple but it is actually a little more complicated than that, especially with big companies clashing. The case is still pending, so who do you think will win the battle over the Bumblebee?

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