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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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:20pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dark Helmet, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:20pm

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

    I heartily endorse her claim and think Hasbro should pay up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:25pm

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

      But, see, for this to work, you actually have to appropriate my likeness or persona as well. As you are in no way even moderately funny, I feel as though I'm in no danger here....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:28pm

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

        But timmeh, "in no way even moderately funny" is to be imitate you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        mb (profile), 3 Nov 2015 @ 11:19am

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

        Well, they are both pretty similar if you consider that they share a plastic empty-headed persona.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Gwiz, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:25pm

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

      I totally agree with Dark Helmet. Otherwise anyone can pretend to be you. It's just common decency, especially when the name is unique.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:45pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:10pm

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

        see stats below

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 2 Nov 2015 @ 7:42am

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

        A quick search of my own name brings up a few other unique individuals called "Wendy Cockcroft." How much more common is "Roger Strong?" Methinks Ms. Faulkner is making a mountain out of a molehill.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:26pm

    Gwiz

    I totally agree with Dark Helmet. Otherwise anyone can pretend to be you. It's just common decency, especially when the name is unique.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Crazy Hong Kong Monkey (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:26pm

    That is a hamster?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:30pm

    I'd fire her and hire that hamster...the hamster is cuter...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:33pm

    Hasbro Erred

    Sorry, but you product design team didn't bother to check the name or did and didn't talk to the corporate attorneys before using it. No corp lawyer would approve the use of that name, knowing its Fox-y owner.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PRMan, 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:33pm

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

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

    As such, I don't think her likeness is that off base.

    What's next, a cute hamster named "Batman" with a mask and cape? "But it's not a rich billionaire, it's a hamster."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:53pm

      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
      or
      b) hoping for stories like this one to create hype

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:10pm

        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?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:09pm

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 31 Oct 2015 @ 6:54am

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

      "make money off her celebrity"

      Maybe, but her celebrity is pretty narrow. I'd never heard of her before this story, and neither had my friends.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2015 @ 7:29am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Oct 2015 @ 10:40am

        Re: 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...
        Apparently, neither had 99% of the rest of us. We have now. Intentional Streisand? Can Hasbro counter-sue for providing promotional services?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 2:57pm

    All choked up

    The filing says she's upset because her namesake is clearly marked as a "choking hazard". Apparently, she feels that in real life no one is likely to choke on her.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:16pm

    Fire the bimbo and hire the hamster

    Fire the bimbo and hire the hamster.
    The hamster is a heck of a lot cuter and I's sure can
    be a much better news anchor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      avideogameplayer, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:23pm

      Re: Fire the bimbo and hire the hamster

      Really, dude? Couldn't bother to read the previous comments to see I said it first?

      *files a copyright, trademark, DMCA, patent lawsuit*

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:18pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ryunosuke, 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:54pm

    "Yeah, one of them is a lovely looking woman news anchor and the other is a hamster."

    the one on the left is the hamster, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 3:59pm

    Mark My Words

    This hard-to-swallow lawsuit over a choking hazard will end in a gag order.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:08pm

    Stats on Harris Faulkner

    1 linked in => sheila mentioned in story
    3 whitepages.com => doesn't appear to be sheila mentioned in story.

    Hence, in USA, we have four potentials with that name.

    Case dismissed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Brand, 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:17pm

    To YouTube!

    Eagerly awaiting some enterprising YouTuber making a video with Harris the hamster anchoring Fox News...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Beefcake (profile), 30 Oct 2015 @ 4:43pm

    Similarities

    Both a FOX News anchor's mouth and a hamster's legs tend to run incessantly and furiously without getting anywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 5:15pm

    Compare to Vanna White v. Samsung Electronics

    LIKENESS
    ...we agree with the district court that the robot at issue here was not White's "likeness"
    ...

    RIGHT OF PUBLICITY
    ...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.
    ...

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

    PARODY DEFENSE
    ...Defendants' parody arguments are better addressed to non-commercial parodies.
    ...

    DISSENT

    ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2015 @ 6:27pm

    They forgot the most obvious difference.

    One of them is adorable looking...
    The other isn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 30 Oct 2015 @ 9:40pm

    Wet

    "In her time at FNC, Faulkner has covered many major news stories. "
    She has also had many multiple orgasms. Driven to enjoy pleasure she is a woman among women. That hamster can blow me...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    got_runs? (profile), 31 Oct 2015 @ 6:27am

    Hasbro should have her lawyers pay for the lost time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 31 Oct 2015 @ 3:23pm

    The liberal media is trying to brainwash us into believing that plastic hamsters aren't real.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Beta (profile), 1 Nov 2015 @ 9:45am

    your witness

    If they get the hamster on the stand and it's revealed to be a hypersensitive, narcissistic princess, then they'll have a case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Harry Bergeron, 1 Nov 2015 @ 3:33pm

    Stealing a name

    Harris Faulkner is a not-so-unique name?
    Had you looked, I reckon it more rare than Elvis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 1 Nov 2015 @ 10:16pm

    I beg to disagree.

    One definitely has a hollow head that is full of air.

    The other is a plastic hamster toy

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Melkemind (profile), 2 Nov 2015 @ 10:23am

    Missing the point

    I think you're all ignoring the real issue here. Harris Faulkner is an awful name for a cute little hamster. If anything, the news anchor is only drawing attention to the fact that her cruel parents named a baby girl Harris, also not cute.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daryl Rybotycki, 3 Nov 2015 @ 11:27am

    Unlikely Phrase = Spy Trigger Words?

    "...an award winning Fox News anchor"

    Sounds like the kind of Vocal Trigger Worlds the Russians would use for Sleeper Operatives in the USA; because of course, it would never be spoken in normal conversation...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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