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Old 2017-08-31, 08:19 AM   #10
Brendocon 2.0
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Originally Posted by Clay View Post
I wonder about these things. Specifically, how can trademarks carry weight when Hasbro's own interpretations of its characters can be so elastic?
Because you're trademarking the word itself, for exclusive use in a certain purpose. That purpose being toy sales.

The distinctions between the different physical toys of Starscream would fall under either copyright/patent/design law/whatever.

The trademark doesn't have to be tied to a certain character, just used by the company that own it. Once you own that trademark you can slap it on whatever you want, so long as it falls under the definition you've registered it under.

And so long as you have the rights to be marketing the product in question, of course. This is why 3P companies use their own designs. They might be using the likeness of a Hasbro-created character, but it's not being marketed under their TMs and it's quantifiable as a different actual toy.

So the theoretical trademark for Starscream should be watered down to the point of meaninglessness, right?

And that's not even getting to the subjective reaction of whether a given figure looks like a character enough to persuade a consumer to buy the thing.
Nah, trademarks are done by category. And, handily, are a matter of public record and are searchable online.

Hasbro own the trademark "STARSCREAM" in the UK for use in the class "Toys, games and playthings" and don't have to renew it until December 2026.

So long as what they're selling falls under that category, they can stick the word "STARSCREAM" on whatever they feel like and take action against anyone else using it in that category without their permission.

And historical evidence indicates that Hasbro will stick that name on whatever they feel like, regardless of what it looks like. Back when they reused the name Shockwave in GI Joe, they likely wouldn't have needed to register the trademark separately, as an example.

To say that the trademark for Starscream is meaningless because they've used it on different looking toys... well you can extend that to the "Transformers" trademark itself. Trademarks allow you use of a specific name or logo for trading goods of a predefined category - they don't limit what you can stick it on within that category, or how many times you can use it.

Also, it'd be funny if DC just changed their Bumblebee to red instead of yellow and called her Cliffhopper.
So long as they get that trademark, sure. Why not.

I mean look at all the times Hasbro have stuck something out with the "Autobot" prefix and the absolute garbage names they've had to use for Titans Return - all because they don't have the relevant trademarks.

Hasbro are out there with Wolfwire, Octone, Skullsmasher and Twinferno, but someone's flogging a toy under the Bumblebee name without filling out the paperwork... are we really surprised they're sticking to their guns on this one?
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