30 October 2015Copyright

Hasbro urges court to dismiss TV presenter’s $5m hamster image rights claim

Toy maker Hasbro has urged a US district court to throw out a claim filed by Fox News presenter Harris Faulkner that a toy hamster marketed under her name has misappropriated her likeness and name.

In a memorandum filed by the toy maker at the US District Court for the District of New Jersey on Monday, October 26, it argued that the hamster and Faulkner “ share nothing in common” other than the fact they have the same name.

Hasbro said that Faulkner’s claim lacked standing because an individual cannot claim infringement of their image rights on the basis that they have the same name.

Hasbro introduced the Harris Faulkner toy hamster as part of its Littlest Pet Shop brand last year.

“Name-sameness is not enough to state a claim for a violation of one’s right of publicity under well-established law,” Hasbro said.

“Faulkner’s right of publicity claim fails because she does not and cannot allege that Hasbro misappropriated her identity. The mere use of a real person’s name for a fictional character is not actionable as a right of publicity claim absent additional evidence that the unique identity of that person has been misappropriated,” the company added.

Faulkner sued the toy maker on August 31 seeking damages of up to $5 million.

She alleged “direct and contributory” acts of unfair competition. She also cited the use of the ‘TM’ symbol next to the name ‘Harris Faulkner’ on the hamster’s packaging, which she claimed as a violation of the Lanham Act because it “falsely” signified that Hasbro claims a trademark interest in Faulkner’s name.

Faulkner said the hamster bears a “physical resemblance to her traditional professional appearance, in particular the tone of its complexion, the shape of its eyes, and the design of its eye makeup”.

Furthermore, Faulkner had said she had not wanted to be associated with a toy that is potentially a “choking hazard” for young children.

Hasbro rejected the claims and previously told WIPR that its Littlest Pet Shop products “exceed all safety standards”.

Faulkner appears on Fox News six days a week. She is the anchor for the channel’s weekly, hour-long newscast “Fox Report Weekend”, a host and panellist on “Outnumbered”, and a contributor on current events programme “Happening Now”.

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More on this story

3 September 2015   A presenter on US television channel Fox News has sued toy maker Hasbro for creating a toy hamster that she claims misappropriates her likeness and name.
6 October 2016   Toy maker Hasbro and Harris Faulkner, a presenter on US television channel Fox News, have settled an intellectual property lawsuit over Hasbro’s toy hamster.