If you are a 30-something IP lawyer (or just a male child form the 80s), you may very well have played with Transformers when you were young. For those of you who have missed it: Transformers are tiny robots that converted from a robot into other forms (cars, dinosaurs, guns, etc.) It started with toys and a cartoon and lots of merchandise, but recently several live-action films followed.
The Transformer name is now at the center of a law suit.
Computer maker Asus is one of the ‘sponsors’ of the Transformers movie (product placement alert!). Recently, Asus launched the Eee Pad Transformer; a tablet that – indeed – ‘transforms’ into a notebook via a docking station. Now Asus expanded the line with the Transformer Prime, another tablet-laptop hybrid.
Toy maker Hasbro, owner of the Transformer mark, filed a suit against Asus for trademark infringement. The suit was preceded by a letter from Hasbro to Asus, but Asus refused to comply. Not very surprising as the tablets were already out there. Hasbro is suing Asus for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution.
It seems that Hasbro has a reasonably strong case. Trademark wise, however, it depends whether the mark TRANSFORMERS is also registered for computers of similar products. Otherwise, Hasbro has to proof that their trademark has a reputation, which is not unlikely.
We are very curious what this suit will transform in to… most likely a settlement.
Ps. Eee Pad? Really? Another law suit waiting to happen…