Fox News Anchor's Suit Over Toy Hamster Likeness Results In Hilarious Point-By-Point Hasbro Rebuttal

from the rats dept

Okay, damn it, fine, let’s talk about Harris Faulkner and her insane likeness rights lawsuit against Hasbro over a toy hamster. I’ve been avoiding this stupidity since September, when the lawsuit was filed, because how do you even broach a topic like a cable news anchor suing a toy company over a tiny little inanimate hamster? In any case, Harris Faulkner, an award winning Fox News anchor, sued Hasbro over its “Harris Faulkner” hamster, alleging that the toy not only shared her name, but was an appropriation of her “unique and valuable name and distinctive persona.” Her lawsuit, in fact, spends a great deal of time making sweet love to Faulkner’s awesomeness for reasons I can’t even begin to understand.

In her time at FNC, Faulkner has covered many major news stories. She has anchored key moments of FNC’s political coverage, including the 2013 government shutdown, the 2013 State of the Union Address, the 2012 vice presidential debate, and the 2012 election night. She has also reported on significant international news events, including the fall of Tripoli in 2011 and the death of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, as well as some of the most significant domestic news in recent memory, from the death of Whitney Houston, to the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, and the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Hopefully lawyers for Hasbro will be willing to stipulate that Harris Faulkner is indeed the cat’s pajamas. The problem is that, other than sharing the not-really-super-unique name Harris Faulkner, the tiny toy hamster doesn’t share any of the likenesses that Faulkner has alleged.

Yeah, one of them is a lovely looking woman news anchor and the other is a hamster. That, combined with the absurdity of the idea that Hasbro was somehow marketing toy hamsters to Fox News loving tots really should be all that’s necessary to understand how silly this all is. We don’t really need to write out a blow by blow explanation of how Faulkner and this toy hamster aren’t similar, do we? No, we don’t, because Hasbro chose to do it for us in their response.

“First, Ms. Faulkner is an adult, African-American, human, female newscaster; the Hamster Toy is an inch-tall, cartoon-like plastic animal, which has no apparent gender or profession, or even clothing that might identify its gender or profession,” Hasbro responds. “Second, contrary to Plaintiff’s allegation, the Hamster Toy does not have the same ‘complexion’ as Ms. Faulkner,” continues Hasbro. “The animal depicted by the Hamster Toy has ‘fur’ (not skin), which is golden yellow, a wisp of ‘hair’ that is medium-brown, a pink nose,and a muzzle that is white. Third, despite Plaintiff’s claim, neither the ‘shape’ of the Hamster Toy’s eyes, nor the ‘design of its eye makeup’ misappropriate Ms. Faulkner’s likeness,” Hasbro puts forth. “Ms. Faulkner has brown, almond-shaped eyes; the Hamster Toy has large, circular blue eyes.”

Hasbro also asked the court to note that identical names aren’t enough on their own to cause a valid publicity rights violation, so this whole thing comes down to whether Faulkner and the hamster are similar in appearance. Which they aren’t. At all. As lovingly detailed above in one of the most absurdly awesome court rebuttals I’ve ever seen. However, Faulkner gets a chance to respond to Hasbro’s response, which at this point I sincerely hope she does, because I want to see what her legal team comes up with next.

Publicity rights, man. They provide such entertainment.

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Companies: hasbro

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Comments on “Fox News Anchor's Suit Over Toy Hamster Likeness Results In Hilarious Point-By-Point Hasbro Rebuttal”

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Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

the Hamster Toy is an inch-tall, cartoon-like plastic animal, which has no apparent gender…

I would have to disagree there. Look at those prominent eyelashes. By the rules of cartoon sexual dimorphism, this is very obviously a female hamster by that trait alone.

Having said that, I agree that she doesn’t actually look like the news anchor in question.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Getting upset over a stolen name is natural and totally justified.

There are others out there who have the same name as I do. That doesn’t mean that they stole my name.

Giving toys or fictional characters names is little different from naming your newborn. There’s a good chance that someone out there will have the same name. In each case, lacking any other connection whatsoever, it means exactly NOTHING. There’s no grounds for the claim.

crade (profile) says:

Re: I think this is a blatant attempt to make money off her celebrity

How are they supposed to make money off her “celebrity”? She’s a news anchor.. No one in their target audience will have any clue who she is.

I’d bet they were either:
a) being lazy as designers, and just pulling from whatever was handy
b) hoping for stories like this one to create hype

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I think this is a blatant attempt to make money off her celebrity

Hasbro must pump something really interesting through their ventilation system…

Designer 1: Cute. What should we name her?
Designer 2: Ms. McFluffy?
Designer 1: No…
Designer 2: Binkums?
Designer 1: Nah…
Designer 2: Ham-Star?
Designer 1: What? NO…
Designer 2: Harris Faulkner?
Designer 1: Yeah baby! On the nose!
Designer 2: Ssshhh. It’s big here. Close the blinds. Grozny?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I think this is a blatant attempt to make money off her celebrity

You’re joking, right?

Your batman example has a mask and cape. What’s the similarity in the case at hand? They both have two eyes? They’re both female? They’re both mammals? Other than the name, how is this toy Harris Faulkner and not any other female on the planet?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I think this is a blatant attempt to make money off her celebrity

Celebrity? Who the fuck is this woman? I have never heard of her until today so no, she is not a Celebrity.

She has no Copyright or trademark on her name, so it is available use by anyone. I have also found 3 others with the same name after 2 minutes searching on the internet, so its not unique.

Also Harris as a woman’s name I think all men named Harris should sue her for using a mans name. She has ruined a name that has been used for men for hundreds of years.

Those that think she is right to sue, well you need to go lie down in the middle of the road, as you are only useful as a speed bump.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

What are facts?

I like how they listed stories she ‘covered’ as a news anchor in such a way that they actually leant veracity to her other statements regarding her feelz with regards to the naming of the toy. The way I see it, news anchors do not dig up dirt, they relay stuff dug up by others, and introduce people (though there are some exceptions to that). They other piece of relevant information is that she works for Fox, and therefore Rupert Murdoch, and if I can get past that information I am looking for what is lied about and which bits might actually be truth rather than salaciousness.

Anonymous Coward says:

Compare to Vanna White v. Samsung Electronics

…we agree with the district court that the robot at issue here was not White’s “likeness”

…We agree that the robot ad did not make use of White’s name or likeness. However, the common law right of publicity is not so confined.

These cases teach not only that the common law right of publicity reaches means of appropriation other than name or likeness, but that the specific means of appropriation are relevant only for determining whether the defendant has in fact appropriated the plaintiff’s identity. The right of publicity does not require that appropriations of identity be accomplished through particular means to be actionable. It is noteworthy that the Midler and Carson defendants not only avoided using the plaintiff’s name or likeness, but they also avoided appropriating the celebrity’s voice, signature, and photograph.

… White has raised a genuine issue of material fact concerning a likelihood of confusion as to her endorsement.

…Defendants’ parody arguments are better addressed to non-commercial parodies.


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