Every now and then, a fictional character will share the same name with a completely unrelated character from another story or franchise. Barring the most blatant imitations, most fans and observers of pop culture treat these similarities as silly coincidences that make for fun anecdotes or humorously exaggerated fan-theories. But few would expect these similarities to result in a lawsuit. However, this is the case between comic book publisher DC and the popular toy company, Hasbro.
A Thorn In Their Side: DC and Hasbro Fight Over The Bees
As reported by Variety, the owners of the #Transformers license just filed a federal lawsuit against #DC Comics for charges of trademark infringement. To be specific, #Hasbro claims that potential consumers could confuse the names of DC's heroine could be confused with the Autobot - both of which are named Bumblebee.
Though both characters are incredibly distinct from one another and only share a name, Hasbro claims that it filed for the "Bumblebee" trademark well ahead of DC. With the Transformers' solo movie set for a Christmas 2018 debut, Hasbro seems intent on cornering the market when it comes to merchandise and related products. This was made evident in the company's desire to halt the release of Mattel's upcoming #Bumblebee toy, which is a part of the new DC Super Hero Girls toy line-up.
More Than Just A Coincidence: Films With Similar Titles And Lawsuits
This isn't the first time a major film studio was accused of trademark infringement by another party. Previously, Warner Brothers sued The Weinstein Company for its use of the title, The Butler. Warner Bros. claimed that the biopic about a presidential butler was infringing on its own movie titled The Butler, which was a silent film from 1916. The dispute was resolved when The Weinstein Company added the director's name to the title, making it Lee Daniel's The Butler.
For similar reasons, the mockbuster makers at #TheAsylum were sued by more than one major film studio. Some of The Asylum's features that attracted legal attention were Age of the Hobbits, Battleship, The Day the Earth Stopped. These movies were accused of respectively ripping-off Warner Brothers' The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Universal's Battleship and 20th Century Fox's The Day the Earth Stood Still.
The disputes were resolved when The Asylum also changed the titles of its features. Now, the aforementioned features are re-titled as Lord of the Elves and American Battleship. The Day the Earth Stopped, however, remained the same as Fox didn't act on its threats of legal action.
But perhaps the most bizarre case involving similar names was the one that The Dark Knight faced. When the Batman movie was released, Turkish mayor Huseyin Kalkan caused controversy by stating that nobody asked his permission to use the name "Batman." This is because Kalkan is the mayor of a Turkish town literally named Batman, and he felt that the movie caused a string of suicides and murders in his town. Though Kalkan caused a stir at the time, Warner Bros. hasn't acted on these claims because a lawsuit has yet to be served to them.
DC and Warner Bros. have yet to respond to Hasbro's lawsuit, but it's possible that they could make a counter-claim soon. While Hasbro registered the Bumblebee trademark before DC did, it should be noted that DC's Bumblebee was first seen in comics during the '70s, while the Autobot Bumblebee made his debut in the '80s.
What do you think about Hasbro's legal motion against DC? Share your thoughts in the comments below.