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Old 2011-04-11, 01:48 PM   #1
glazios
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Default TakaraTomy banning 3rd party Products in Japan?

TFW2005 reports that TakaraTomy have blanket-banned 3rd party TF products and accessories in Japan!

Takara Tomy bans third party custom Transformers Products in Japan?

What the hell?! Seems like possibility is becoming reality, people, even if it is only for the Japanese fans at the moment...

Really hope this doesn't set a bad precident, 'cause that'd seriously suck.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 02:38 PM   #2
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Yeah, I read that just too from FrenzyRumble's link on Facebook, this does suck but to be honest, there will always be retailers that will sell 3rd party stuff, unless Has/Tak actually "attack" the 3rd part companies there is still not so much to worry about in my opinion.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 02:40 PM   #3
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It makes sense that it would be Takara who did this first. Right now Hasbro can afford not to give a shit, but Takara seems to rely on the collector market for a much bigger slice of their sales. And since Takara used to be the ones who raked in all the "premium TF" cash that's now going to the third-party companies, they could make a case that the the third-party companies are seriously impacting their bottom line.

Not that this'll stop them, unless they plan on hitting the sites outside of Japan as well.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 03:19 PM   #4
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Default TakaraTomy banning 3rd party Products in Japan?

Of course, this was already noted in the Fansproject Causality thread, but I feel that this deserves it's own thread, rather then going off topic about it in some other thread. (No offense Glazios.)

http://www.tfw2005.com/transformers-...-japan-171889/

And here's the link to the news article, so let's discuss.

Personally, I find that TakaraTomy is taking it a wee bit too far, granted, people will be able to get these products either way via other online retailers, though I still find it nitpicky that they even ban 3rd party products that upgrade their toys, such as replacements hands, weapons, armor and what not.

Full figures I can understand, iGear's Faith Leader is a blatant copy of MP Prime and the Conehead's aren't really too different from the MP seekers either, even though some figures shouldn't be banned, but that's my opinion...copyright infringement remains copyright infringement, whether it is partly or fully and it simply cares not for opinion, only what the law states.

Still, what will this mean for the future? What will Hasbro do? Will they remain lenient or will they follow Takara's example and start doing the same here. Time will tell I guess.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 03:25 PM   #5
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Yeah. I can't say I'm surprised, or dissapointed really. The add-ons and head casts and what not were really cool, and didn't affect official sales at all. (The ones with a fast enough turnaround, like the Kup heads may have even helped a little) But these companies now releasing Rumbles and Reflectors and Springers and MP Seekers have pushed things too far. They were never likely to care about giving Kup a cigar or Hot Rod a gun, but when the companies start start trying to beat them to characters that've been announced (How many 3rd party Reflectors are in the works now?) it becomes a problem.

Plus what War said about Takara chugging along on collector interest.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 03:29 PM   #6
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Aye - beyond producing Transformers, Tomy-Takara couldn't be more different from Hasbro. Takara need every penny they can get. Hasbro, on the other hand, are successful and produce lines people have heard of.

From a legal point of view it's an interesting point... Bearing in mind I haven't bothered clicking on the link to Big Board because I don't have 20 minutes for the 16,000 200x200 graphics morons with nothing to say have attached to their posts, it seems they've just declared them illegal... which they were in the first place. They might disappear from easily accessible Japanese sites, but that will be the bulk of the impact. Any Japanese 3rd party manufacturers aren't just going to destroy stock and moulds, especially as they'll have a fair few mail contacts already sorted, and maybe even someone based outside Japan who'll import and shift on their behalf.

As with any type of illegal bootlegging, it surely won't have much impact until they actively start going after individual parties. Maybe Tomy Takara will - they need the money. I can't see Hasbro bothering unless it's as some kind of political sop to their junior partners - they don't need the money, they don't need the hassle and they don't need the bad PR - which is unlikely, as Hasbro wear the trousers these days.

EDIT: Agree with taku that it's probably the complete figures that have tipped things over, as they will be impacting on sales to some degree... Spare heads and guns will get swept up in it because T-T can hardly come out and say "Oh, this IP violation is okay, but this one is illegal".
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 03:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by NightHawk View Post
Of course, this was already noted in the Fansproject Causality thread, but I feel that this deserves it's own thread, rather then going off topic about it in some other thread.
No problem... With a little Dino magic...

EDIT: Well, close enough. HAI!
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 04:13 PM   #8
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Bearing in mind I haven't bothered clicking on the link to Big Board because I don't have 20 minutes for the 16,000 200x200 graphics morons with nothing to say have attached to their posts
I went through all 19 pages of their forum, it was ranging from whining that certain figures weren't released up to "well if Has/Tak gave us what we wanted there would be no 3rd parties."

Figures will still be released regardless, if though not always in stores since the retailers are all hoarding in on the upcoming movie toys and neglecting the other lines of Hasbro, hence why they wont release certain figures...which is still not too bad, seeing as you can get them at most online shops still, if though some are only via Takara.

As for the "not giving us what we want"...We the fanbase apparently want a lot and we are given a lot, The Classics/Universe/RTS/Generations lines gave us several marvelous G1 updates that we originally didn't think to be seen again, but Has/Tak takes it more globally, if gives us what is popular, what is in demand with the movies/games (Sadly, WFC was never given a full toyline) and wont always give us what we want, this is understandable, if though sometimes annoying.

Fact is, with 3rd party companies like Igear making blatant copies from existing molds and claiming it as their own, I can't blame Takara for banning them or wanting to put them out of commission so to speak. And yes, you will notice that most people are blaming Igear for this all which is quite understandable.

And while I do find it sad that upgrade parts will be swept along with this ban, I can't say that it's not logical, after all...in the end it is still copyright infringement when you base a head of a well known character sucking on a cygar who appeared in a licensed comic for a licensed toy.


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No problem... With a little Dino magic...

EDIT: Well, close enough. HAI!
A wizard did it!
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 08:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Aye - beyond producing Transformers, Tomy-Takara couldn't be more different from Hasbro. Takara need every penny they can get. Hasbro, on the other hand, are successful and produce lines people have heard of.
I'm not sure that's entirely true anymore. When they were an independent company that would have described Takara pretty well, but Tomy is a pretty hugely successful toy manufacturer.

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I went through all 19 pages of their forum, it was ranging from whining that certain figures weren't released up to "well if Has/Tak gave us what we wanted there would be no 3rd parties."
Right, obviously Hasbro and Takara need to immediately stop manufacturing toys for children and instead focus all of their attention on pleasing the adult fanbase. If I ever need to be reminded why people have such a low opinion of our fanbase, a trip to TFW sorts that out right quick.

People who act like Hasbro/Takara is some sort of global supervillain for obeying child safety laws and acknowledging the reality of modern-day retail economics piss me off to no end. It's not 1984 anymore and the toy business is different. Hasbro aren't perfect by a long shot, but considering the legal and economic constraints they're working under they're doing a pretty good job.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 08:16 PM   #10
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O , o

Quite a response... didn't expect quite this much discussion, or else I'd have opened a new thread right off the bat...

Anyway, I hope this doesn't get blown all out of proportion; if Hasbro get in on the act because TakaraTomy are pulling out all the stops, this could get ugly real fast.

iGear do need to get their act together, but I just hope that TakTomy will leave it at that, and not tar the other 3rd-party companies with the same brush - guys like FansProject and FrenzyRumble haven't actually stolen HasTak's intellectual property, or at least not quite as thoroughly as iGear have, and thus don't deserve the same complete-clampdown treatment.

There's a line in the sand with this sort of thing, and only iGear have actually dared to step across it. I only hope that clampdown doesn't turn into shutdown, or court case, 'cause that'd really suck monkeynuts.

@ NightHawk: Don't sweat it, dude. If I'd known this would kick up such a fuss, I'd have opened a new thread.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 08:54 PM   #11
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iGear do need to get their act together, but I just hope that TakTomy will leave it at that, and not tar the other 3rd-party companies with the same brush - guys like FansProject and FrenzyRumble haven't actually stolen HasTak's intellectual property, or at least not quite as thoroughly as iGear have, and thus don't deserve the same complete-clampdown treatment
The problem is that they have to go for blanket bans, otherwise they're effectively saying they tolerate certain IP infringements, at which point in any theoretical court case iGear (for example) could ask why they're being singled out and things would get murkier... IP theft is an on/off switch AFAIK, you're either nicking someone else's idea or you're not... In legal terms there's no difference between, say, giving away free burnt CDs of a single out-of-print album and methodically selling copies of an artist's entire back catalogue. It's all IP theft (though obviously in a court of law one would likely receive a lighter sentence than another).

Now, my understanding of it is that while Warbot Defender might have not covered any trademarks, all Hasbro would have to do is prove he was directly based on their intellectual property (which you'd have a hard time disproving) and bang, case closed.

As I say, I think the problem is that whole figures rather than upgrades may have been seen as taking things a bit too far, and as these whole figures seem to be becoming more widely avaliable and hit larger production runs unless the 3rd Party groups wind their necks in a bit they could run into trouble. I'm not sure what the production runs on, say, Munitior are, but I'd guess if they sold loads of them more of the next figure will be made. I think this is the worry - the 3rd party manufactuers are getting ever more organised in terms of production, budget and promotion, and at the current rate that's going to erode the goodwill Hasbro have towards the various garage manufacturers.

Say the next figure is *grabs example out of the air* Impactor. This Impactor rocks, they make and sell a few hundred - let's say 500 for such a wanted figure. A year down the line, Hasbro do their own Impactor for whatever Generations line is out; it's an unconvincing Perceptor retool, and those 500 people who might otherwise settle don't buy it... that's a loss of $5000 of sales for Hasbro.

That's a bit different that a gun for DotM Prime or whatever that people will have to buy a DotM Prime to have any use for anyway, but one can't be banned without banning the lot.

What will hopefully happen is that the 3rd Party manufacturers will just mind how they go for a little while and not get carried away pumping out dozens of ersatz Classics figures and the whole thing will blow over. I'd suggest that some companies have maybe been a little too enthusiastic about slapping their products all over the web and it's got to the point where TomyTakara couldn't really turn a blind eye anymore.

@ Warcry: fair play on Tomy, but I still think that Transformers' relatively small marketshare in Japan is the main reason this has happened.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 09:12 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Warcry View Post
Right, obviously Hasbro and Takara need to immediately stop manufacturing toys for children and instead focus all of their attention on pleasing the adult fanbase. If I ever need to be reminded why people have such a low opinion of our fanbase, a trip to TFW sorts that out right quick.
We can't deny that we all would like to see some character get a new toy/update, but it is up to ourselves to be logical about it and understand it from Has/Tak's point of view, sadly enough, a lot of people don't seem to understand or even accept this view. No, instead they whine about wanting this, that Has/Tak should make that because we, the fanbase, want it.

I'm proud to be a TF fan, I really am, can't say I'm proud about the majority of our whining fanbase though.

Going further on the banning subject, now we know Takara's tackling the 3rd parties with their bannings, thus effecting companies who make custom figures, like FansProject for example. But what about those who customize figures, and I'm not talking about 3rd party companies, I'm talking about people like FrenzyRumble, who customize figures on for either commissions or sales on sites like e-bay, would you think that what Takara is doing, will ever have effect of these customizers? I mean, the toy is already bought so they already got their income from it.
 
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Old 2011-04-11, 10:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
The problem is that they have to go for blanket bans, otherwise they're effectively saying they tolerate certain IP infringements, at which point in any theoretical court case iGear (for example) could ask why they're being singled out and things would get murkier... IP theft is an on/off switch AFAIK, you're either nicking someone else's idea or you're not... In legal terms there's no difference between, say, giving away free burnt CDs of a single out-of-print album and methodically selling copies of an artist's entire back catalogue. It's all IP theft (though obviously in a court of law one would likely receive a lighter sentence than another).
As far as I understand it, if you hold a trademark or a patent you need to at least look like you're trying to defend it. If the third-party stuff is impacting Takara's sales and they don't do anything about it, legally that just makes things easier for the next guy who wants to ride their coattails to a quick buck.

Making accessories, heads and add-on kits is a grey area, because you have to buy a legit Hasbro or Takara product to use them. A good lawyer could sell that argument, and if pressed I think HasTak would have made that argument themselves to avoid starting a fight that would have cost them a lot of goodwill.

I agree that sell whole figures completely changes the game, though. The Combaticons you can sort of look past, because even though they're blatantly Swindle and Blast Off they're designed to combine with official Hasbro products. But Warbot and the various Arcees, Reflectors, Wreck-Gars, etc, etc that have been produced are nothing but off-brand Classics figures.

Hasbro can still afford to ignore it because most of their toys are bought for children and their share of the collectors' market is mostly made up of cheap bastards like me who wouldn't touch a $80 third-party figure with a ten-foot pole. Takara...not so much. They seem to rely on the collector market a lot more, and specifically the big-ticket foreign collector market that companies like FansProject and iGear sell to.

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@ Warcry: fair play on Tomy, but I still think that Transformers' relatively small marketshare in Japan is the main reason this has happened.
I don't disagree with you there. Transformers has always been a bit of a 'niche' product in Japan, and Western collectors likely account for a sizable percentage of their sales. But Tomy at least seem to recognize and even embrace that. Since the merger they've given up on Takara's hair-brained schemes to expand their Japanese footprint with anime cliches and paedophilia and concentrated on selling slightly nicer looking repaints of existing Hasbro figures to foreign collectors for inflated prices.

Not a bad business model if you can get away with it, but it does put them more directly into competition with the third-party stuff than Hasbro is.

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We can't deny that we all would like to see some character get a new toy/update, but it is up to ourselves to be logical about it and understand it from Has/Tak's point of view, sadly enough, a lot of people don't seem to understand or even accept this view. No, instead they whine about wanting this, that Has/Tak should make that because we, the fanbase, want it.
I know what you mean. In a perfect world, I'd love to have new G1-accurate toys of Spinister, Nightbeat, Trypticon, Scorponok, Shockwave, etc, etc, etc... We've all got lists like that. And I think in good time, most of us will see most of the characters we're carrying a torch for get a release. I mean, Straxus, after all...

But a lot of fans are impatient and the internet does seem to bring out the crazy in a lot of people. Big boards like TFW get it worse than smaller places like us, I think, because of the greater anonymity you get from having so many active posters. If you say something idiotic here you're likely to be laughed at and/or fed to Cliffy. But if you say something idiotic there, no matter what thread you're in there'll be a dozen people doing it so everyone else usually just ignores you.

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Going further on the banning subject, now we know Takara's tackling the 3rd parties with their bannings, thus effecting companies who make custom figures, like FansProject for example. But what about those who customize figures, and I'm not talking about 3rd party companies, I'm talking about people like FrenzyRumble, who customize figures on for either commissions or sales on sites like e-bay, would you think that what Takara is doing, will ever have effect of these customizers? I mean, the toy is already bought so they already got their income from it.
I think that last sentence is the key...as long as Hasbro or Takara get their slice, they can probably justify not jumping down the customizer's throat.
 
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Old 2011-04-12, 06:59 AM   #14
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Read through the thread, agree with most of the things that had been said. Ultra Magnus armour, Cliffjumper heads and guns and Kup heads and whatnot shouldn't be too much a problem to HasTak, since they have to buy the original Classics figures first. If anything, this boosts their sales. I mean, many people sure as hell don't want to buy an ugly white Optimus Prime repaint, but you realize that there's a way to make him look like a convincing Ultra Magnus...

But you start making figures like Springer and Arcee and Devastator and Reflector and the Insecticons, figures that HasTak might be saving for the next leg of the Classics line...

Heck, every single TF news board has 'Warbot Defendor', 'Kup heads' and 'TFans Project Casuality' and whatnot in their most recent news, treating them as official product. We even have the Ultra Magnus City Commander listed in the official Classics toyline, I think. It grates on me, TBH. And if I were a Hasbro rep, well, I really don't want it to happen that way.

Cliffy's example with the theoritical Impactor toy hit it in the head, methinks. Just take Springer. Whoever got the Warbot toy is sure to think it's the bee's knees and everything, and when Hasbro releases a Classics Springer down the road some one-two years later (I mean, they did Hot Rod, Blurr, Kup and Arcee already) they will lose that much money from the 500 people who already bought the Warbot toy.

Agreed with the stuff said here about the fanbase in general. The reason I steer away from sites like Seibertron and TFW is exactly that. They see a toy come out and all they do is complain about why HasTak is such a bitch for using long missiles and stuff. And bashing everything that isn't G1. Gad, I hate those people. Especially those that bash the Movieverse in general. 'Bay ruined transformers forever by making Optimus a face-cleaving maniac/Bumblebee a mute/Megatron not a gun/Ratchet green' etc. Honestly, if the live-action movies didn't come out, how many of you would be caught talking about Transformers in public and not looked at funny? Before the movie, I mean? ("Look at him, he's talking about that rubbish kiddie show with ugly robots that nobody gives a shit about. Sad." becomes "Hey, I watched that movie! It's pretty good.")

I swear, I see some of the Classics discussion threads 'Hasbro is a bitch for releasing Wheeljack as a retool of Tracks', and 'Hasbro is a bitch for not making Straxus a kickass half-track tank instead of an ugly formless cannon thing'. What. Sure, there have been hiccups, but all in all, Hasbro has been doing great, trying to cater for kids and to the fanbase all at the same time. What little kid would be interested in buying Straxus, I ask you? Or Thunderwing or Bludgeon? God damned ugly samurai robot, I thought, when I first saw Bludgeon during my first foray into the wacky world of TFs. I mean, yeah, I want my 'Last Stand of the Wreckers playset' toy, but I'll take what I can.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-04-12 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 2011-04-12, 06:59 PM   #15
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Now, my understanding of it is that while Warbot Defender might have not covered any trademarks, all Hasbro would have to do is prove he was directly based on their intellectual property (which you'd have a hard time disproving) and bang, case closed.
My understanding is that the burden of proof is with the accuser, and the case for something like the Springer homage is far from open and shut, so it'd come down to whether Japan is as open to vexatious litigation as the US.

The mould copying I can see there being a strong legal case against, although protections don't last forever. IIRC, some LEGO-type piece designs are protected now and others aren't, with it coming down to utility/design patents.

Japan has historically had a fairly open culture of copyright liberties... it's not everywhere that has domestic/import/bootleg splits in music stores, and unofficial comics tend to be viewed as flattering. Technology and patents have been more protected, so the fact that this is more of a manufacturing issue may lead to a crack-down being effective on the direct copying.

Question is whether TT still has much weight to throw around.
 
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Old 2011-04-12, 07:47 PM   #16
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Hasbro can still afford to ignore it because most of their toys are bought for children and their share of the collectors' market is mostly made up of cheap bastards like me who wouldn't touch a $80 third-party figure with a ten-foot pole. Takara...not so much.
Though I wouldn't be surprised if Hasbro make a similar stance as a sign of solidarity with their production partner, especially considering the size of sales outside of Japan these things are likely to get, Takara are likely to need to deal with that if they do want to stamp this out.

Looking at the original link, it looks as if Takara's plan is not so much to take direct action against the third party sellers, but to tell online sites not to sell this stuff anymore. Which is likely the best bet rather than hunting down some guy in his garrage, especially as those sites are likely to depend more on sales of Takara stuff than third party things so they won't want to rock the boat so much with them.
 
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Old 2011-04-12, 07:53 PM   #17
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My understanding is that the burden of proof is with the accuser, and the case for something like the Springer homage is far from open and shut, so it'd come down to whether Japan is as open to vexatious litigation as the US.
And if it was to go to court, it would be pretty easy to prove. Triple changing yellow/grey/green robot with helicopter and tank configurations, recognisable (if pretty awful) robot mode layout, similar (basically identical) head design. Are they seriously going to stand there and claim the basic character design is their own work?

I'd be curious to see the 'homage' defence made for a toy sold at $100 or whatever that monstrosity cost, and one which may pre-empt an official Hasbro release. Considering Hasbro have in the past cited knock-offs as a reason for the lack of reissue for some figures (though this may have been a smokescreen) it's an interesting point to consider, especially for a fannish character that might have been pitched more towards the collectors' end of the market.

That's clumsy phrasing on my part, from my usual habiot of writing sentences backwards - of course legally burden is on the accuser, the phrase "hard to disprove" was more meant to intimate that there wouldn't be much of a case for the defence. The best FP could do in that case was claim it was unintentional that their design is heavily based on one owned by Hasbro. Which would be amusing as their site has pictures of Hasbro-created figures with FP-created parts, making their knowledge of Transformers obvious.

That said, I really don't think any of this will happen. There'll be the odd C&D issued, if that. This is a shot across the bows to prevent the third party manufacturers from getting ideas above their station - a way of saying "We know what's going on, please don't take the piss".

Random thoughts -

* I wonder if Hasbro have lent on Takara to issue this, thus getting the message out without upsetting the vocal Western fandom - because however much the Big Board poseurs are up in arms about it, there'd be even more fuss if the announcement covered America instead.

* I also wonder if this is a downside to Hasbro's relatively close relationship with the fandom. The design team has more than a few nerds on it, some of whom are on first name terms with the Ace Faces, probably post at boards, read Shitpacked! and so on. There's probably been someone out there stupid enough to have these on show in a dealer room at a convention with Hasbro reps present. Banners for these figures have become more common on websites as the producers have become more professional. Sooner or later someone, somewhere was going to object, especially if some spotty herbet asked a prissy designer why Hasbro Figure A was rubbish compared to 3rd Party Figure B.

* FP and the like have considerable engineering talent; it's a shame they can't actually come up with their own ideas. But then none of the people buying them would buy them because Transformers fans are by and large brand facists.
 
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Old 2011-04-12, 08:26 PM   #18
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And if it was to go to court, it would be pretty easy to prove.
The use of any actual TF trademarks in direct advertising would be a killer, but...

http://www.figures.com/forums/news/1...-defender.html

...proofs:

Trademarks - none on the figure or packaging, as far as I'm aware.

Copyright - possibly on the face, although decades of robot toys and lots of similar Transformers heads would work against it.

Design patent - if anything like the US, lapsed by now, and have to be very specific. You can patent different varieties of computer mouse design, for instance.
 
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Old 2011-04-12, 09:26 PM   #19
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Agreed with the stuff said here about the fanbase in general. The reason I steer away from sites like Seibertron and TFW is exactly that. They see a toy come out and all they do is complain about why HasTak is such a bitch for using long missiles and stuff. And bashing everything that isn't G1. Gad, I hate those people. Especially those that bash the Movieverse in general. 'Bay ruined transformers forever by making Optimus a face-cleaving maniac/Bumblebee a mute/Megatron not a gun/Ratchet green' etc. Honestly, if the live-action movies didn't come out, how many of you would be caught talking about Transformers in public and not looked at funny? Before the movie, I mean? ("Look at him, he's talking about that rubbish kiddie show with ugly robots that nobody gives a shit about. Sad." becomes "Hey, I watched that movie! It's pretty good.")
More than that...if not for the popularity of the movies, Classics wouldn't exist, there wouldn't be any third-party toys to speak of, the Masterpiece line probably would have gone the way of Alternators and all of the things we take for granted now would be nothing but a pipe dream as we have the eleventh year of the Unicron Trilogy (or something else equally dire) inflicted on us. Whatever your opinion of the movies themselves, they are the only reason Transformers broke out of the doldrums of the late 90s and early 2000s.

When fanboys piss on the movie they're pissing on the only reason they've gotten any of the things that they're whining about wanting.

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Originally Posted by Denyer View Post
The mould copying I can see there being a strong legal case against, although protections don't last forever. IIRC, some LEGO-type piece designs are protected now and others aren't, with it coming down to utility/design patents.
I think the major distinction is that Lego is just a type of building block, but Optimus Prime or Starscream are characters. Even after the patents on a figure's tooling expires, the character still isn't in the public domain. So even after the tooling for the original Prime toy isn't protected anymore, I'm not sure that other companies would be able to get away with selling their own versions of it -- they'd still be making a profit off of Prime's image, so to speak.

The same sort of thing would apply to stuff like Warbot,. Sure, some random Chinese guy designed the figure in his garage. But it was designed to look like Springer and sold pretty much exclusively to people who think of it as Springer. I don't think it's any more legal than designing and selling your own toys of Spider-Man or Worf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
That's clumsy phrasing on my part, from my usual habiot of writing sentences backwards - of course legally burden is on the accuser, the phrase "hard to disprove" was more meant to intimate that there wouldn't be much of a case for the defence. The best FP could do in that case was claim it was unintentional that their design is heavily based on one owned by Hasbro. Which would be amusing as their site has pictures of Hasbro-created figures with FP-created parts, making their knowledge of Transformers obvious.
Also, the fact that they market the toys almost exclusively to the Transformers fandom doesn't help their case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
I also wonder if this is a downside to Hasbro's relatively close relationship with the fandom.
Speaking of...if Hasbro were really serious about putting a stop to the third-party stuff, would it really take lawsuits or Machiavellian schemes involving threats to online retailers? If they were really gung-ho, they could probably ask/bully places like TFW and Allspark to flat-out ban the discussion of third-party stuff entirely. If they threatened to pull the plug on the Q+As, exclusive information, 'leaks', etc. I imagine they'd get what they wanted pretty quick. And that would effectively kill the third-party sellers' ability to market their wares to enough customers to earn a profit.

It's fairly common in other fandoms, from what I understand. In fact, some of them are far worse and even muzzle discussion about legitimate competitors. Discussing Megablocks is banned outright on a lot of Lego boards, for example, although I've never been sure if that's at Lego's request or because of the 'brand fascism' that Cliffy mentioned -- Lego's caught that particular disease much worse than Transformers ever will.
 
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Old 2011-04-12, 09:28 PM   #20
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I'd say the face, fairly unique colour scheme and recognisable (and again, very unique) helicopter mode are pretty damning on their own. Especially added to a run of other figures with a matching level of similarity to Hasbro-owned design, I think Hasbro would be on a fairly solid legal footing in the hypothetical situation it got that far (though, TBH, a C&D would probably be enough, were they so inclined).

The likes of FP are relatively exposed... Bootleggers and pirates don't tend to advertise with such vigour, and as they're generally less... naive... can be harder to track down even though they should be much higher up Hasbro's list, the same way the RIAA keeps going for college students who download a few hundred songs for personal use rather than Taiwanese pressing plants.

But in general I really do think Hasbro will leave be as long as the 3rd party companies don't take the piss, keep production runs small, maintain a high unit price and a fairly low profile. To give them their due, as huge multinational corporations built on exploiting cheap Asian labour go, they're really not bad, and certainly have more tolerance of fandom than other companies do.
 
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