Will the Real Transfomer Please Stand Up? Hasbro Sues Asus Over Transformer Tablet

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News Posted: Thu, Dec 22 2011 12:55 PM
Optimus Prime and the rest of the Transfomers crew might be the victim of identity theft, in a matter of speaking. Hasbro has filed a lawsuit against Asus alleging the company's Transformer Prime tablet is a clear violation of trademarks related to Hasbro's Transfomers brand, which has been revitalized in recent recent years through several big screen flicks.

"Hasbro continues to aggressively protect its brands and products and the specific actions we are taking today against Asus underscores yet again Hasbro’s willingness to pursue companies who misappropriate our intellectual property for their own financial gain," Hasbro said in a email to paidContent.


The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, and quite frankly, you could see this one coming a galaxy away. The Transformer Prime doesn't come with foldable parts to turn it into a semi-truck or some other vehicle (see our review here), but it does feature an optional keyboard dock to transform the tablet into a notebook of sorts. Even without that feature, it's hard to imagine Hasbro would let the name fly.

That's not to say Asus is guilty or that anyone in their right mind would confuse a Transformer Prime Android tablet with a kid's toy, but you can see Hasbro's angle in this. But hey, trademark law is tricky business, so how this turns out is anyone's guess. Speaking of which, what's yours?
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LLeCompte replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 1:10 PM

This is so stupid. Really hasbro?if anything this helps people remember your franchise was Michael bay trashed by making horrible, no plot movies.

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CEhrhardt replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 1:31 PM

Seems silly to me. Tablet TRANSFORMS into a notebook via keyboard dock etc., it doesn't turn into a robot.

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deadmanet replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 1:40 PM

My thoughts exactly LLe....maybe they should work with Asus to make an Optimus themed tablet instead of this craziness. That would be much smarter money wise.....judge is gonna take a look at this and laugh....I know I did.

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Just pay Hasbro some money and shut them up... I think they will probably win this one. If it was just Transformer I would think not but Transformer Prime now...

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JDiaz replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 3:55 PM

The Asus Transformer Prime is just the premium line of their Transformer tablets, they're still selling the original as the lower end consumer model and they've made no references to the Transformers!

So the name has a different meaning, and that makes this just a frivolous lawsuits to try to extort some money from Asus.

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OMG LOL THAT'S SO UNEXPECTED,

NOT EVEN CLOSE TO SIMILAR, AND ASUS HAS EVERY RIGHT IN THE WORLD TO USE "TRANSFORMER TABLET" FOR THE NAME. I DON'T SEE ANY AUTO BOT"S SPLITTING THEM SELF APART TO BECOME A TABLET AND A KEYBOARD. GET REAL, HASBRO A LAPTOP IS IN NO WAY SHAPE OF FORM A Giant *** TALKING ROBOT/CAR!!!

Hasbro YOU NEED TO GROW THE *** UP,

Ps. I HAVE NO RESPECT FOR YOU.

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CDeeter replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 6:48 PM

Have to say I agree with Paul, you could see this one coming a mile away. I really thought that Asus already made some kind of licensing deal with Hasbro that let them use the name, but apparently not. Hasbro will slam dunk this one if it goes to court. It WOULD be cool if they got together on this and did like deadmanet suggests.

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Manduh replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 7:51 PM

The funny thing is one of the ASUS facebook pages posted a vid the other day showing a 'cute' video of their tablet with an Optimus Prime toy. I've been trying to search it, but I guess with this news coming out it has been removed.

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Why are you shouting?

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I guess I assumed since there was no lawsuit after the first, theyd let this fly. Too bad, I was wrong.

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OSunday replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 10:18 PM

Transformer was alright, but adding prime?

That's just ripping off optimus prime and asking for a lawsuit and I think it is infringing on the Transformers image and trademark honestly, hats off to Hasbro for taking a big tech company like Asus to the courts

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DDeveaux replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 10:28 PM

Given that the latest TV series with the Transformers is called Transformers Prime, I can see why Hasbro may not like this too much. Yes, a tablet is different from a robot, but someone who doesn't know any better may think Hasbro is endorsing the tablet, which is not the case.

That said, I don't think the lawsuit will go far at all. At most, ASUS may modify the "Prime" branding - but they have every right to use "Transformer" as their tablet does just that (transforms into a laptop with the keyboard dock).

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realneil replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 11:03 PM

It's only a play for some cash. If they were so upset about it they would have squawked about it when it was first introduced.


""No, let's wait and let them sell millions of them and THEN say that we're REALLY hurt by it,..........""

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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AKwyn replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 11:14 PM

I'm just going to say it's no big deal; I am going to add that I don't see the difference between the tablet and the robot but I can understand why Hasbro might sue. Either way, ASUS should just license the name from Hasbro (like Motorola did with the Droid, who's name is copyrighted by Lucasfilm.) and get it over with.

realneil:
""No, let's wait and let them sell millions of them and THEN say that we're REALLY hurt by it,..........""

Now that you point it out, it does seem really odd but I don't know whether they filed an injunction to stop or whether they had ongoing discussions so I can't really judge on Hasbro's actions. Still, no big deal.

 

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Manduh replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 11:21 PM

realneil:

It's only a play for some cash. If they were so upset about it they would have squawked about it when it was first introduced.


""No, let's wait and let them sell millions of them and THEN say that we're REALLY hurt by it,..........""

My thoughts exactly!

Mind you, that's the way most of these piddly lawsuits seem to happen and probably the only way they would get anything from it

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JTweed replied on Thu, Dec 22 2011 11:46 PM

Too bad - I love the name of the Transformer Prime - I would not confuse it with a Hasbro toy. Ditto on TaylorKarras remark about the licensing of the name.

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CDeeter replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 8:27 AM

Yeah get the license and then use it for all it's worth. Laser etch the lid with Autobot or Decepticon icons. Make one gunmetal gray and call it Megatron hehe.

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Inspector replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 5:33 PM

lol, this is really stupid. I bet hasbro is thinking of taking their idea and start making tablets...

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Super Dave replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 10:15 PM

CDeeter:
you could see this one coming a mile away. I really thought that Asus already made some kind of licensing deal with Hasbro that let them use the name, but apparently not.

I agree with you 100% CD!

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JDiaz replied on Fri, Dec 23 2011 10:15 PM

Unless they settle out of court I doubt Hasbro can win. Their patents are for covering media uses and Toy brands, not computer electronics.

It would be different if they actually invented the term but the words "Transformers" and "Prime" have been around a long, long, long time and have other meanings besides Habro's fictional characters.

Asus is specifically using "Prime" to differentiate the new Transformer from the original, which they're selling as the lower end consumer model now. So in this case Asus can clearly point out it means premium, as that's how they're using it.

Besides, Hasbro's patent is for the plural "Transformers" with a "s" at the end. While Asus is using the singular "Transformer" in their branding. Never mind their own company name is usually used in the beginning of any references.

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Dec 25 2011 1:27 PM

Jumping in late...

I realize that Hasbro has a legal obligation to defend their trademark, or lose it. However, the concept of trademark coexistence (i.e. two companies can have the same trademark if they're not selling the same thing to overlapping audiencess where it could cause customer confusion) means that they do not need to do it in this case.

But then again... Asus really loses my support by using the Prime word in conjunction with the Transformer name. It seems that either they chose that name specifically as an homage to Hasbro's Transformers characters... or they have the most oblivious and least lucky product naming focus group on the planet.

So... I'm actually going to have to side with Hasbro on this. I can't believe that Asus just didn't settle out of court or change the name. Hopefully they can just cross-license something and not end up pushing on these stupid legal costs to the customers.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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JDiaz replied on Sun, Dec 25 2011 3:58 PM

Hasbro trademark is tied to the fictional characters, for entertainment value only of media and toys.

Remember, Hasbro didn't invent these words or the word use combination. Look them up in a dictionary and you won't find Hasbro's reference.

This is like making a fictional character called Alpha-Omega for say a comic book and then turning around and suing a fraternity for using the same words in their name.

Besides, their copyrights are only for titles and titles are limited to specific use and spelling! Like movies are made all the time with similar titles, but a single letter change is all that's needed to allow it.

Like I already pointed out, Asus uses the singular of "Transfomer" and Hasbro uses the plural of "Transformers"! Never mind "Asus" is also part of the name use for reference to their product, further differentiating the name reference along with the actual product being different.

It's a real stretch comparing the "Asus Transformer Prime" to Hasbro's "Transformers Prime" and expect anyone to really be confused on which is which or that they are even remotely related.

Anyway, this will either be settled out of court, or Asus will change the name, or they go to court and Hasbro will likely lose. But whichever it'll be the price of the Asus product won't go up, Asus still has to be competitive with other tablets and court cases like these usually don't effect product prices for end customers. It's more just where the profit shares will go...

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JvanHummel replied on Thu, Dec 29 2011 10:08 AM

Because, you know, Hasbro totally invented the word transformer and the concept of something turning into something else.

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