On August 28, 2017, in the Southern District of New York, Hasbro filed a lawsuit against DC Comics and Warner Brothers for trademark infringement. Hasbro owns the trademark rights in the Transformers franchise. One of the robot characters is named Bumble Bee. To promote the franchise, Hasbro began selling Bumble Bee toy figures in 1983 and obtained a federal registration in 2015. Lego recently started selling a line of sets called DC Super Hero Girls, and one of the girl figures in the set is called Bumble Bee. She’s not a robot, but apparently has super powers. It appears that DC Comic/WB licensed to Lego the right to use the mark Bumble Bee on its toys. Hasbro argues that DC Comic/WB infringes on its trademark rights. Interestingly, Hasbro did not name Lego in the lawsuit, but perhaps once discovery begins they may be looped in. In a vacuum, infringement is typically found when the marks are identical used for the same or similar goods, but, in this case, given the differences in the toys themselves and how they are presented in the marketplace, likelihood of confusion may be difficult to establish.
Jennifer Ko Craft may be reached in our Las Vegas office at 702-550-4441. Ms. Craft is an “AV/Preeminent Attorney®” as rated by Martindale-Hubbell® member in the firm’s Intellectual Property and Media, Sports & Entertainment Departments. She practices primarily in the areas of domestic and international trademark and copyright prosecution, licensing and enforcement. Ms. Craft consults with clients in identifying various protectable aspects of the clients’ products, services and concepts, and in developing and managing their intellectual property portfolios. She also resolves trademark, copyright, and domain name disputes, including the resolution of disputes over contested trademarks before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and enforcing clients’ intellectual property rights on the Internet.