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.

Filed Under: dolls, harris faulkner, trademark
Companies: hasbro


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

    slow, sad shaking of head...

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

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