back to article Hasbro sues Asus over Transformer Prime moniker

Toy maker Hasbro is suing computer manufacturer Asus for daring - allegedly - to name an Android tablet after one of its biggest money spinners. Yes, Hasbro owns the Transformers line, and is annoyed not only that Asus has released the Eee Pad Transformer but also added the word 'Prime' to the end of the product's moniker. …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Hmmm..

    "Then there's the fact that while Transformers are robots that ingeniously 'transform' from humanoid figures into a vehicles, the Transformer Prime is a two-part unit that intentionally comes apart."

    You mean it TRANSFORMS from a tablet into a netbook and vice-versa.

    Hasbro don't have a let to stand on here, it's called a Transformer for that very reason, (as is their product)...

    The sure sign of a successful product is when people try and sue then to get in on the action...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lenovo Deal

      The sure sign of a successful product is when you're making a bigger pile of cash than your competitors.

      They may be able to argue that it's confusing to consumers because of their recent deal with Lenovo

      http://www.penn-olson.com/2011/07/21/lenovo-brains/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Isn't the problem here all about publicity

      A lawsuit probably costs a lot less to start than a advert. Its existence is then picked up by a story hungry media. By careful promotion everyone wins.

      Lawsuit is swiftly dismissed, or can be resurrected by either party when publicity is required.

      Media gets lots of copy from examining the merits, or otherwise, in minute detail.

      Commentator get a lunchtime of high blood pressure.....

      Online advertisers get lots of hits.

      No reputation damage done in cases like this.

      Everyone wins?

      What have I missed? Oh, the merits of the lawsuit - there aren't any, IMHO.

    3. Jedit
      FAIL

      Learn what is being sued over, fool

      Hasbro aren't claiming infringement over the "Transformer" name - just as they didn't sue LG for calling one of their phones the Optimus. They can't, because both "transformer" and "optimus" are words with their own meanings. What they're claiming is an infringement is the *phrase* "Transformer Prime", which is used in the movies, cartoons and comics as the name for the leaders of the Transformers and is trademarked. If Chevrolet release the Chevrolet Idol, no problem; if there was a car manfuacturer called American Automobiles, no problem. But if American Automobiles release the American Idol, you'd better believe a certain TV station is going to drop on them from a height for trademark violation.

      Also, just as a sidebar: one of the few Transformers that actually *is* designed to come apart into two separate pieces is Optimus Prime, who separates into the robot and his trailer. Moreover, the trailer is directly analogous to the keyboard dock as it's there to provide additional functionality (it contains Optimus's spare weapons).

      1. Figgus
        Pint

        "Also, just as a sidebar: one of the few Transformers that actually *is* designed to come apart into two separate pieces is Optimus Prime, who separates into the robot and his trailer. Moreover, the trailer is directly analogous to the keyboard dock as it's there to provide additional functionality (it contains Optimus's spare weapons)."

        I don't necessarily agree with your stance on the merits of the suit, but I wanted to reply to you just to salute your nerdiness!

        CHEERS!!!

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Tom 13
        Unhappy

        The only thing more annoying than the idiots who launch these baseless suits,

        are the commentards who try to defend them.

        1. Jedit
          Meh

          Beg your pardon

          I didn't defend Hasbro's taking out the lawsuit - I simply corrected Barry S on his misinterpretation of why they had filed it and what grounds they were suing on. I can understand why people have misunderstood my intent, however.

          Suits like these remind me of Private Eye's famous responses to people who threatened libel actions against the magazine, one of which ran roughly like this:

          WINNER OF DAMAGES: It would be to your benefit if you were to send any further stories about me to my legal counsel, so they can advise you on whether or not to proceed with publication.

          THE EYE: How would your legal counsel respond if we told you to fuck off?

  2. Fuzz

    Do Hasbro think that:-

    a) the kids will go out looking to buy a new transformer toy and come home with a tablet with detachable screen by mistake

    OR

    b) there's a chance that they can make some money on the side by forcing Asus to license the name from them.

  3. Lamont Cranston

    You haven't played with any for a while.

    The new ones come apart with very little persuasion. These bits then get lost.

    As for the law suit, I'm surprised it's taken this long to come out.

  4. Graham Dawson
    Trollface

    It wouldn't surprise me if they argue that the popularity of Transformers-themed mods for the TF101 is proof that Asus are passing off. There have been crazier arguments.

    On the face of it, there's no case to answer. Transformer and Prime are both generic terms that have a multitude of uses similar to but distinct from Optimus Prime the Transformer. Manufacturers of electrical transformers aren't being sued by Hasbro (not even when those transformers are manufactured by Prime Electric Ltd), and nobody raises an eyebrow when someone uses a Mellin transform to prove a Prime.

    Now for the mandatory Apple conspiracy: Obviously Ha$bro are deep in the pocket of Apple and Steve Jobs is personally directing their actions from beyond the grave. It's likely their entire management team now has brand new iPads and iPods whilst the legal team are being paid secret billions by Apple's marketing department. BILLIONS I TELL YOU!

  5. Andy Barker

    Wrong picture

    Shame that is a picture of the previous version Asus Transformer, and not the Transformer Prime

  6. Him over there

    "Transformer Primes comes in dull, gun-metal grey" - So, more Megatron than Prime, then?

  7. dotdavid
    Stop

    Optimus

    "We'd argue the company doesn't have a (retractable) leg to stand on."

    Since when has that stopped certain companies suing?

    I wonder if they'll go after LG next. Just the other day I confused that Optimus phone of theirs with the leader of the Autobots. Boy did I look silly.

    1. Phil Standen
      WTF?

      Preventing sale

      Why would they prevent sale? This only makes sense between competing products.

      Surely they will be going for a name change, or more likely damages?

  8. fixit_f

    I must admit....

    When I saw reviews of it a little while ago, I seem to recall the name did make me vaguely think of Optimus Prime and wonder if it wasn't a trademark infringement. Maybe I've got a patent lawyer's brain - nooooooooooo.......

  9. BorkedAgain
    WTF?

    Heavens to Betsy, this is getting silly.

    I mean, someone actually had to summon up the will to call the lawyers and tell them about this. Obviously, once invoked, the attorneys are going to go at it (that's how they earns they's Benjamins) but even on speed-dial someone had to initiate this action with an actual button-press.

    Who-the-fudpuckin-hell actually did this? How did they get (and, more to the point, keep) their job? Is this some kind of care-in-the-community thing or what?

    Sorry, I'm despairing about what humanity has become again. Must be Christmas.

  10. Bill B

    Transformer Prime

    So let's get this right. Asus have a new product that transforms from a laptop to a tablet and they have decided to call it Transformer Prime?

    Hasbro have built up the Transformer franchise so that the words 'Transformer' and 'Prime' (especially when put together) is very likely to evoke images of a 20-30 foot robot. Hasbro have also attempted to build up the 'Hey Cool!' image of this robot, especially among young geeks (who are probably now slightly older geeks with hopefully cash to spare).

    Then along comes Asus, selling into the geek 'Hey cool' market using a product name that could help them sell more of the product. Yup, I can see why Hasbro might be a bit cheesed off.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Correction

      I think everyone realises ASUS probably lifted the idea from the series but proving it, or demonstrating any harm or confusion is caused by it is quite another matter.

      ASUS already had a Transformer tablet for the last year. I can see ASUS arguing fairly succinctly that Transformer is a generic word in this case describing a function of the tablet to transform into a netbook, and that Prime is indicative of the fact that the model is the range tablet in the Transformer range.

    2. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Down

      There is nothing "cool".....

      about an adult playing with an action figure.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: There is nothing "cool".....

        "No sir! I didn't see you playing with your dolls again sir."

        ;p

    3. Macka

      I would agree with that assessment. If Asus had just used "Transformer" on its own they could have got away with this, as they could (rightly) argue that "transformer" is a verb - a doing word that describes an action or state. But "Transformer Prime" evokes a very different mental image. Hasbro have got every right to get pissed off about this.

      1. LaeMing Silver badge
        Boffin

        But I am dubious they have a right to do much more. Trademark law quite explicitly allows cross-over of name in distinctly different fields of trade. The case would come down to whether it is reasonable to assume people would get confused over whether the products are related. I don't see it myself.

        But then again, a lot of people out there are apparently easily confused.

      2. Tom 13
        Flame

        Any idiotic company that strings together two generic words

        and then tries to trademark or copyright or whatever to legally protect that usage deserves not only to have non-competitors use the words in their products, but to have no-name outfits in their own industry wallop them upside the wallet with no legal recourse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Tom13 - such as...

          "the" and "register"?

          "slash" and "dot"?

          "life" and "hacker"?

          "fire" and "fox"?

          etc...

  11. Mage Silver badge

    All those guys with Iron

    Better stop selling those transformers with copper windings or else rename them Induction Coils or Ruhmkorff coils.

    Virtually every larger electronic device uses them, all chargers, Electricity Substations etc.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Nvidia better watch out ..

    with their "Optimus" graphic card switching tech on laptops!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then there's Transformers Prime...

    http://www.transformers-prime.com/

    The latest incarnation fo Transformers with ropey CGI and ghastly designs that are not at all remeniscent of the 8ps cartoon I watched.

    Hasbro probably dont want anything too similarly named to their already established brand name - and it's only one letter shy of infringing.

  14. Kwac
    Facepalm

    Not the first time.

    I'm reminded of the time I spent ages trying to install Mandrake Linux - it was only later that I realised that I was trying to run a comic strip.

    Life got so much easier when they changed their name to Mandriva.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart laptop...

    That's a smart laptop, can it run proper linux (fedora etc) or Windows? I'm really not keen on Android...

    1. Graham Dawson

      There's a project to get Ubuntu (and presumably any other debian distro) on the TF101 that's been very successful. I think there might be some driver issues. Go look on the XDA forum for more info.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thanks...

        Will do.

  16. moiety

    Wouldn't surprise me if Asus asked (or paid) Hasbro to do this. Free global publicity for both; an 'undisclosed' (read: pay the lawyers off between them) settlement; job done.

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Trollface

      Why pay?

      Lawyer-baiting is so easy it isn't considered a real sport anymore.

  17. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    This is so ridiculous

    It must be a junior Intellectual Property Attorney at Hasbro being ordered to show his mettle. This won't go nowhere but he will learn how to sort through the folders.

  18. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Of course you know where this will lead to

    Products named after their patent numbers so there can be no confusion.

    I can't wait for the USPTO-2011/8,082,523.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge
      Coat

      I can't believe I googled that to see what it might be.

      It's not even Friday.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        That's OK

        I can't believe I Googled up a proper patent just in case someone would search for it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Was it a patent for your "products named after patents" idea? Surely that must already be in the patent landfill.

  19. Stephen 18
    FAIL

    duh...

    "Prime" is always the leader of the transformers... Magnus Prime, Rodimus Prime... there are more if you go back further into the lore. it's like coming out with a computer called the "Christian" and naming one of them "Christ"... it's going to cause problems.

    as well as the "Transformers Prime" cartoon that started airing well over a year ago.

    i'll admit i was interested in it based on the name alone (because of the tie to Transformers) until i saw what it was.

    there is plenty of basis for this lawsuit, don't ridicule things you are ignorant about.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rather than 'Christ', calling it 'Claimed son of God' since /there are more if you go back further into the lore/.

  20. Critical

    I imagine Asus can at least spell "champagne" correctly...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yea, I'm confused. I went out to buy a Ford and got sold a f**king river!

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Go

      I always respected iRiver anyway (for being an iCompany with an IProduct that predates and wasn't made by Apple's iLine, for a start).

  22. Mediocrates Silver badge
    FAIL

    Next they'll sue Radio Shack

    for using Optimus as a brand name in the 1970's

  23. CraigW
    FAIL

    GE / Mitsubishi

    Are they also going to sue the big electricity hardware suppliers? I'm sure they make a Transformer or two.

  24. chr0m4t1c
    Coat

    Where are the conspiracy wonks?

    I'm surprised there isn't a single post suggesting Apple are paying Hasbro to do this, are all the nutters on holiday?

  25. Sarah Davis
    Coat

    this is just typical brainless greed and pettiness - and just what is wrong with the world today. How stupid are the morons at Hasbro? Do they really consider that there are people who are so retarded that they may go out to buy the Hasbro product (an effigy from a recent science fiction film) and accidently confuse it for a real piece of modern tech of a completely different size, shape, colour, and function.

    This kind of american opportunism (where everyone sues everyone else at every available opportunity as it might prove profitable) is utterly despicable and shows Hasbro have no real integrity and have very small peni !!

    If after surgury you wear an eye-patch, should Apple sue - absurd (although they've probably considered it)

  26. Big Bear
    Stop

    @Jedit

    No, no, no, NO!!!

    The cab section of the truck/trailer is Optimus Prime, whereas the trailer is just that, a trailer! It is NOT part of the Transformer, such as the car carrying part of Ultra Magnus, but all it does is either hold is weapon bits (Bay screwup) or become his mobile operations base, including a little tank that Prime can control via remote mind link (see comics, "Rise of the Insecticons" (?) can't be arsed digging out my collection of comics to check).

    In this analogy, where combining several parts to increase functionality, then the most similar thing would be Jetfire's booster armour, which enhances his functionality in both robot and plane mode, unlike the trailer which is just a storage unit for Prime's goodies.

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