Bumblebees and toys – who knew things like these could pit two superhero franchises against each other?
Hasbro, a multinational toy brand, and owner of the Transformer’s brand, is suing Warner Bros. and DC over the DC Super Hero Girls character Bumblebee. Hasbro argues that the character – a teenage girl with the ability to shrink – can be easily confused with the yellow Autobot ‘Bumblebee’ who can switch between the forms of a big robot-like being to a sports car.
The significance of Bumblebee
The lawsuit doesn’t really come entirely as a surprise, as Hasbro has a lot riding on the Transformers, specifically Bumblebee, with him being quite a popular character among the fans of the franchise. The character is even set to star in its own Transformers movie spin-off, releasing in Christmas 2018.
Specifically, Hasbro is looking to block the sale of two Mattel toys, the Bumblebee and the Bumblebee Lego set. Arguing that they began selling Bumblebee toys way back in 1983, Hasbro also mentions the fact that they’ve been selling Bumblebee building blocks since 2011. Interesting fact: Hasbro’s Bumblebee was named by then-Marvel editor Bob Budiansky in 1983 as part of Marvel’s licensing deal to develop and publish the original 1980s Transformers title.
Hasbro filed for a trademark on the “Bumblebee” name on July 15, 2015, and the trademark was registered on Dec. 22, 2015.
The DC side
DC had introduced the DC Super Hero Girls franchise a couple years back with Mattel in April 2015, with the corresponding TV series going on air in October the same year. Featuring existing female characters from the DC universe as high school students, the series featured the Bumblebee character that was first introduced in the DC “Teen Titans” comic series in 1977. The characters non-superhero persona is an African American scientist with a knack for building high tech superhero costumes (not too different from Marvel’s Hank Pim, it seems).
The series itself is currently one of the most popular DC properties. As of writing this article, DC and Warner Bros. were yet to offer an official response to the lawsuit.