Toy Maker Sues Android Tablet Maker Over 'Transformer' Tablet

Transformer / robot

Hasbro is suing California computer maker Asus, saying the company’s new Transformer Prime tablet violates trademarks related to popular children’s action toys.

The Transformer Prime, which uses the Android-operating system, touts itself as a potential rival to popular alternatives like Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The Asus device doesn’t appear to change shapes into a truck or a robot but it does feature an attached QWERTY-style keyboard.

The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles federal court last week. In an email statement to paidContent, Hasbro wrote:

“Hasbro continues to aggressively protect its brands and products and the specific actions we are taking today against Asus underscores yet again Hasbro’s willingness to pursue companies who misappropriate our intellectual property for their own financial gain.”

Asus could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hasbro is seeking damages and a temporary injunction to prevent Asus from selling the tablet which is currently available from Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and other retailers.

On its face, Hasbro’s lawsuit seems like a long shot since it’s unlikely that consumers would mix up children’s toy and a tablet gizmo of the same name. Trademark law typically only applies to certain categories of goods — that’s why, for instance, Delta Faucets and Delta airlines can co-exist. But Hasbro is likely to argue that the popular Transformers brand is expanding rapidly (it also includes a movie franchise) and so the name should be protected for a wider category of goods.

Hat tip to Jonathan Fingas who has noted below that the most famous Transformer character is named Optimus Prime. Hasbro’s case for consumer confusion over “Transformer Prime” is looking a little bit stronger..

As for Asus, the company is still a minnow in a booming tablet market that is for now dominated by the iPad.

The case is Hasbro Inc v. Asus Computer International Inc et al

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