Hasbro, the owner of the Transformers brand, has filed a lawsuit accusing Warner Bros and DC Comics of trademark infringement. The suit claims that DC Comics' Bumblebee, a teenage girl with the power to shrink, could easily be confused with the Autobot Bumblebee, reported Variety.
Hasbro's Bumblebee has been a mainstay in the 5-film Transformers film franchise and is set to be the focus of the first Transformers spin-off, which is due in theaters at Christmas 2018.
The company is now seeking to stop the sales of Bumblebee toy, which is part of the DC Super Hero Girls line of action figures.
L-R: DC's and Hasbro's Bumblebees respectively
DC Comics and Warner Bros. announced the DC Super Hero Girls franchise in April 2015 in a partnership with Mattel. The series, which began airing in October 2015, features younger versions of DC superheroes, including Batgirl and Harley Quinn, as they attend high school.
Hasbro filed for a trademark on the 'Bumblebee' name on July 15, 2015, and the trademark was registered on December 22, 2015.
The attempt to stop sales of the superhero Bumblebee, for whatever reason, is not good news for an action figure industry that has often been blamed of not ideating progressively enough in the case of girls' toys. Action figures have generally been considered to be 'boys-toys' and have tended to favour male characters such as the Transformer Bumblebee at the expense of female characters. This controversy reached its peak at the time of the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, when it turned out that the associated toy-makers had vastly underestimated the demand for the film's main character, Rey. Girls' toys icons like Barbie have also frequently been accused of promoting 'beauty' above other characteristics.
(With PTI inputs)