Trademark

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
dolls, harris faulkner, trademark

Companies:
hasbro



Harris Faulkner Suit Against Hasbro Over A Toy Hamster Ends In Settlement, Hasbro To Discontinue The Toy

from the sigh dept

While we cover a lot of silly intellectual property disputes here, none has the potential to upend our society into a circus of hilarious litigious stupidity as much as publicity rights do. This barely-arrived form of intellectual property has been the star of all kinds of legal insanity, with one needing only to note its use by such upstanding denizens of our reality as Lindsay Lohan and the brother of Pablo Escobar. But I have to admit I had reserved a special place in my humor-heart for Harris Faulkner, the Fox News anchor that sued toy-maker Hasbro for making a a hamster figurine that shared her name. Because the sharing of a name isn't sufficient to arise to a publicity rights violation, the IRL-non-hamster-Faulkner had to claim that the ficticious-hamster-Faulkner also borrowed from her physical likeness, an argument which her legal team actually made. As a reminder, here are images of both.


Just to be clear, one of the depicted is an African-American female news anchor, while the other one is a pale-furred hamster with what appears to be a melted turd on its head. Hasbro pointed this out in its response to Faulkner's suit. I just want to hammer this point home: Hasbro had to point to the differences between a human female news anchor and a cartoon hamster in a legal filing before a very real court of these here United States. Because of publicity rights. If your head hasn't hit the desk in frustration yet, don't worry, because the two sides of this lawsuit have settled and Hasbro has agreed to stop producing the toy hamster.

The judge set up future fact-finding about children's opinions about the toy hamster and whether there was real confusion in the marketplace, but that won't happen due to the settlement.

No terms have been released by the parties, but in a joint statement, they say, "The ‘Harris Faulkner’ toy is no longer manufactured or sold by Hasbro. However, since there still may be ‘Harris Faulkner’ toys or packaging with the ‘Harris Faulkner’ name in the stream of commerce, Ms. Faulkner reiterates that she has not endorsed or approved this product."

Now, it certainly sounds like Hasbro decided that the legal action brought against it by IRL-Faulkner was entirely too much of a pain in its corporate ass compared with whatever revenue was being generated by hamster-Faulkner. But just the fact that this wasn't laughed immediately out of court is a canary in the mine of our sanity when it comes to publicity rights. This will only get worse, I fear, particularly in a country where the cult of celebrity grows at a pace that should terrify us all.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 4:50pm

    "Yes your honor, that hamster looks exactly like my client."

    I think the funniest part of the case is that she deliberately had her lawyers go into an actual court and argue that yes, that hamster toy looks enough like her that there would be confusion.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 10:20pm

      Re: "Yes your honor, that hamster looks exactly like my client."

      Or at least the melted turd on top of its head does.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2016 @ 6:49pm

      Re: "Yes your honor, that hamster looks exactly like my client."

      I suspect thats why this was settled out of court, she did not want the picture of her wearing a fury costume to be made public.

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

  • identicon
    Calvin Candie, 21 Oct 2016 @ 4:55pm

    Perhaps the young lass was just a wee bit concerned...

    ... that no one should own Harris Faulkner.

    Now here at Candieland I got no problem owning Harris Fulkner, she fits right in with the rest 'o my big ole happy family, no don't she Stephen....

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

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 5:31pm

    slow, sad shaking of head...

    the absurdities will only compound as Empire feeds upon itself...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 5:36pm

    "The judge set up future fact-finding about children's opinions about the toy hamster and whether there was real confusion in the marketplace"

    And this is probably why Hasbro decided to settle. It wasn't worth their time to go through that kind of meaningless bullshit when anyone halfway sane should know the answers would be:

    1) Children have no idea who this woman named Harris Faulkner is, what she does, or what she looks like.
    2) No there is no confusion in the 'marketplace' because one is a human news anchor, and one is a toy hamster. There is no overlapping marketplace.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 5:50pm

      Re:

      And BTW, "whether there was real confusion in the marketplace" is such a weird way of putting it in this context. Is she selling herself to kids? Because that's the market, here!

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 6:46pm

    It takes a certain kind of person to work for Fox news...it seems thinking a plastic hamster is stealing viewers from them is a real possibility.

    When does James Woods get to be a special correspondent?
    He's got the right mindset.

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

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 21 Oct 2016 @ 6:55pm

    Felt intimidated

    Harris was intimated by the hamster. Hamster had a higher IQ, better personality, more articulate, and stronger on-camera presence.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Oct 2016 @ 7:58pm

    Hasbro could have just pointed out the differences in the lips and been done with it.

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

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 22 Oct 2016 @ 1:04am

    Just to be clear, one of the depicted is an African-American female news anchor, while the other one is a pale-furred hamster with what appears to be a melted turd on its head.

    That's not clear enough. Which is on the left, which is on the right? I'm so confused. /s

    Joke aside, how was this not laughed out of court the second it hit the judge's desk? This kind of case is why the US justice system is the subject of so many jokes.

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

  • identicon
    David, 22 Oct 2016 @ 1:44am

    Well...

    Just to be clear, one of the depicted is an African-American female news anchor, while the other one is a pale-furred hamster with what appears to be a melted turd on its head.

    That is because the hamster is wearing the news anchor like a hat.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 22 Oct 2016 @ 6:34am

    time for everyone everywhere to make fun of this woman

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 22 Oct 2016 @ 8:26am

    Justice!

    Someone needs to do a photoshop mash-up of her and the hamster.

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

  • icon
    zerosaves (profile), 22 Oct 2016 @ 8:27am

    Not that I care one way or the other about Faulkner, but why was the hamster named Harris Faulkner in the first place? Is this just a name someone made up in the development/marketing at hasboro or did they really use the name because of her?

    I get that naming toys/cartoon characters real sounding names can always bring the possibility of it matching with a real person, even if its a slimmer chance that person is "famous". But Harris Faulkner is such a unique sounding name that it does come across odd. I've never met a female named Harris before, or male for that matter, as a first name.

    Not saying I think it would be wrong to use a name of a real person for a toy, just found it interesting with her name.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2016 @ 8:32am

    Harris Faulkner = stupid bitch. Hamster Faulkner = much cuter

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

  • identicon
    Oroblem, 22 Oct 2016 @ 8:54am

    An arguable case for marketplace confusion

    To be fair, a hamster's take on the news may be more informative.

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 22 Oct 2016 @ 1:45pm

    this is a Pyrrhic victory. Yes she won the court case, but now the internet is gonna forever associate her as to a toy hamster.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2016 @ 8:10am

    Wow, Harris Faulkner of Fox news is arguing in court that she is a furry.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2016 @ 9:44am

      Re:

      That was puzzling me. Why again does Harris Faulkner think she is a hamster? Frankly, I think she looks more like a rat, though still with a melted turd on her head.

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

  • identicon
    the women who stopped disaabled kids getting toys, 24 Oct 2016 @ 3:08am

    the women who stopped disaabled kids getting toys

    the women who stopped disaabled kids getting toys

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Oct 2016 @ 6:19am

    with what appears to be a melted turd on its head

    At least the hamster has the turd ON it's head, contrary to some celebs that have it IN their heads.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2016 @ 7:22am

    Not only does that thing not look like Faulkner, it doesn't look like a hamster either.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2016 @ 7:24am

    well yeah, der
    obvious caricature

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.