Judge denies Hasbro's request to force Asus to change the name of its Asus Transformer Prime tablet

Judge denies Hasbro's request to force Asus to change the name of its Asus Transformer Prime tablet
It isn't just tech companies taking each other to court over alleged patent infringement these days. Now we have a company like Hasbro, which is in the playful toy industry, taking a tech company like Asus to court in an attempt to block it from using the Transformer name on its tablets. Hasbro, as many of you former kids know, is the company behind the still-popular Transformer toy line (started in 1984) which spawned cartoon series and three blockbuster movies. Besides using the Transformer name on two of its tablets, Asus named one the Transformer Prime which certainly brings to mind arguably the most famous character in the Hasbro Transformer series, Optimus Prime.

Hasbro had originally filed a lawsuit last year seeking damages and a temporary injunction to block sales of the Asus Transformer Prime. At the time, the judge tried to explain the cartoon series by saying, "The Autobots are led by the virtuous Optimus Prime character, while the Decepticons follow the powerful Megatron. According to Hasbro, Optimus Prime is intended to epitomize honor, duty, leadership, and freedom." Hasbro created the "Transformers Prime" CGI series in November 2010 (check the video below). The series focused on Optimus Prime which is why the "Prime" name was used in the title of the animated series. Aired in 170 countries, the series received several Emmy nominations and awards. The Asus Transformer Prime was launched last December while the Asus Eee Pad Transformer was released in April 2011.

The judge presiding over the case used a simple legal test by asking if there would be any confusion between those who own or want to buy the Asus Transformer Prime, and those who own or want to buy the Transformer toys, games or video. The decision that he came to was that the average consumer would not believe that the Asus tablets were a Hasbro product. He also felt that using the Transformer name on the tablet was proper since both the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and the Asus Transformer Prime both "transform" from a tablet into a laptop when connected to the special QWERTY keyboard docks available for both Asus devices. "There is nothing gimmicky about the Eee Pad Transformer or the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, nor can it be said that there is any similarity in the use or function between Hasbro and Asus’s products," said the judge. And even though Hasbro is planning on offering a new line of Transformer Prime toys this month, the judge added that it is too late for Hasbro to ask for a preliminary injunction against the use of the Transformers name by Asus.

Hasbro countered by saying that consumers would believe that the toys were part of the Asus tablet line because decals of the Transformer characters had been placed on USB storage drives, computer mice, laptop skin, speaker heads and laptop docks. Additionally, in the third part of the movie trilogy, a character named Brains had transformed himself into a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Plus laptop.

Tuesday afternoon, Hasbro released a statement saying that it will continue to fight and will take "all steps necessary" to protect its "globally recognized and established marks." In another interesting sidebar, the judge's order mentions that as of February 24th 2012 the Asus Transformer Prime had received pre-orders for only 2,400 units and that retail fulfillment orders for the next two months equal 80,000 units. That certainly is a far cry from the 3 million units of the next Apple iPad allegedly sold by Apple during the tablet's launch weekend.

source: PaidContent via Phandroid

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