Two superhero franchises are about to square off in federal court over the right to market “Bumblebee” toys.
Hasbro, owner of the Transformers brand, filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Warner Bros. and DC Comics of trademark infringement. The suit claims that the DC “Bumblebee” — a teenage girl with the ability to shrink — could easily be confused with the Autobot “Bumblebee.”
Hasbro has a lot riding on the “Bumblebee” character, set to star in the first Transformers spinoff, which is due in theaters at Christmas 2018.
Bumblebee is one of the central heroes of the Transformers universe. Hasbro says that it began selling Bumblebee toys in 1983, and has been selling building-block toy sets with the Bumblebee brand since 2011. Hasbro touts an online article that ranked Bumblebee fourth on a list of the “Top 25 Transformers.”
DC Comics and Warner Bros. announced the DC Super Hero Girls franchise in April 2015 as a partnership with Mattel. The TV series began airing in October 2015. The series features younger versions of DC superheroes, including Batgirl and Harley Quinn, as they attend high school. The Bumblebee character is a tech wizard with super strength and the ability to shrink. The original Bumblebee character was first introduced in the DC “Teen Titans” comic series in 1977.
Hasbro filed for a trademark on the “Bumblebee” name on July 15, 2015, and the trademark was registered on Dec. 22, 2015.
“Defendants’ and/or their licensees’ use of the Accused Mark is likely to cause consumers mistakenly to believe that the Accused Goods emanate from or are otherwise associated with Hasbro,” the suit alleges. “Such improper use of the Accused Mark by Defendants and/or their licensees is likely to cause confusion, mistake and/or deception among the public as to the source of the
Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.