Hasbro, the toy and board game company that owns the Transformers brand, is set to take Warner Bros. and DC Comics to court over trademark infringement for the “Bumblebee” Transformers character.
In a lawsuit filed on August 28th, Hasbro claims that a DC character also named “Bumblebee” could be confused for younger audiences with their Transformers character, who is getting his own spin-off film in 2018.
The company is seeking to block the Mattel toy sales for the DC character, and is also concerned about a LEGO “Bumblebee” set. Hasbro argues that because they have been selling Bumblebee toys since 1983, and the toy of the DC “Bumblebee” character has only been sold since April 2015, that Hasbro has right-of-way to all toys named “Bumblebee”.
However the lawsuit is carried out, this story does remind one of previous instances where two companies have used the same names for characters or properties. One famous example is that of the DC character Captain Marvel existing at the same time as the Marvel Comics character Captain Mar-Vell. Eventually, when DC trademarked the Captain Marvel character in 1972, they had to change it to Shazam or risk copyright infringement.
Whether it be a Captain Marvel/Shazam name-change for the DC “Bumblebee” or an out-of-court settlement, only time well tell on this lawsuit.