Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hasbro bid for prelim. injunction against Transformer Prime tablet denied, probably unnecessary

Sorry, Hasbro. In December, the company behind the Transformers lines of toys, movies, and TV series, sued Asus in federal district court over the Transformer Prime tablet, but a judge in has ruled that Asus can keep on "truckin'" with respect to shipping those Android-based tablets.

[For those not aware, the lawsuit was filed, at least in part, because the leader of the Autobot set of Transformers is Optimus Prime. Prime transforms into a Peterbilt in his vehicle mode, hence the truckin' comment. Yes, it's somewhat snarky, but the judge in the case seemed to indicate with his comments that he was an Autobots fan.]

Some of the court's opinion seemed to center on describing the movies and cartoons, seeming to indicate Hasbro had a fan in the judge. The court said,

“The Autobots are led by the virtuous Optimus Prime character, while the Decepticons follow the powerful Megatron. According to Hasbro, Optimus Prime is intended to epitomize honor, duty, leadership, and freedom.

"In the third film, an Autobot character known as 'Brains' disguised itself as a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Plus laptop [...] Hasbro developed the 'Transformers Prime' animated television series, which began airing in approximately November 2010. The series focuses on the life and story of the Optimus Prime character. 'Prime' was added to the 'Transformers' mark in the program’s name to emphasize this focus. Thus far, the series has received several Emmy nominations and awards and has been aired in 170 countries.”

Despite the fanboyishness exhibited by the judge, Hasbro lost. The judge added,

“There is nothing gimmicky about the Eee Pad Transformer or the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, nor can it be said that there is any similarity in the use or function between Hasbro and Asus’s products.”

For one, the court noted, the fact that the Transformer Prime tablet can "transform" into a laptop when attached to its accompanying QWERTY keyboard dock added strength to Asus' case. Well, yes, that's exactly why this tablet and the prior Transformer received their names.

Hasbro was none too pleased with the courts decision. "Hasbro strongly disagrees with the Court’s decision not to preliminarily enjoin Asus’ use of those marks, however we were pleased with the Court’s views on the strength of Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERS and TRANSFORMERS PRIME marks. While the case proceeds toward trial, Hasbro will continue to actively pursue this matter and will take all steps necessary to protect its globally recognized and established marks."

Hasbro had been seeking a preliminary injunction.

The court judgment also showed that Hasbro PROBABLY shouldn't worry about confusion. There aren't enough Transformer Prime tablets being sold to confuse many. As the judgment said, "as of February 24, 2012, it [Asus] had received over 2,000 pre-orders ... and that retailer fulfillment orders for the next two months total approximately 80,000 tablet computers."

The Transformer Prime is like a grain of sand on an iPad beach.

No comments: