More Than Meets the Eye

Submitted by patentadmin on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 14:36

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "Transformer Prime"? If you grew up in the 80s, you probably immediately think of the Transformers cartoon and the character Optimus Prime. (Admit it: Now you're trying to get the Transformers theme song out of your head.)

Hasbro holds the trademark for "Transformer" for its line of toy robots that change into vehicles and back into robots. The brand is still going strong, fueled by a recent series of live-action movies, more toys and, of course, a new generation of little boys to collect them.

In April 2010, Hasbro also filed a trademark application on the phrase "Transformers Prime" (note the use of the plural "Transformers") for use with "toy action figures; toy vehicles; toy robots covertible into other visual toy forms; board games; [and] parlor games."

The problem is that computer company Asus has a new tablet PC called the "Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime" (note the singular "Transformer"). Asus applied for a trademark on the name in November 2010, but Hasbro has filed suit against Asus for trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution.

So far, Taiwan-based Asus doesn't seem too concerned, and has already begun shipping some preorders of their Transformer Prime tablets. But will a single "s" be enough to protect Asus from Hasbro's lawsuit? Is a tablet PC similar enough to a toy "robot in disguise" to cause trademark dilution? It will be interesting to see if this case transforms (sorry) into a drawn-out legal battle or if it settles out of court.

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