Harris Faulkner first filed a lawsuit against Hasbro Inc. in September, alleging the company used her name in likeness for a toy hamster in their “Littlest Pet Shop” product line.
The toy originally became available in 2014 as part of the Littlest Pet Shop “Pet Pausabilities” line. After the release of the hamster toy, Faulkner filed a $5 million lawsuit against the company. Faulkner’s attorney outlined the basis of her claim in a 15-page document at the time.
“Harris Faulkner, the uniquely named, acclaimed veteran journalist and author, has worked for decades to establish and maintain her personal brand and laudable professional reputation,” her attorney wrote. “Without Faulkner’s prior knowledge or consent, Defendant Hasbro, Inc. (‘Hasbro’), a multi-billion dollar toy company, willfully and wrongfully appropriated Faulkner’s unique and valuable name and distinctive persona for its own financial gain—by creating, manufacturing, and distributing for sale a plastic toy hamster named ‘Harris Faulkner’ as part of Hasbro’s ‘Littlest Pet Shop’ product line (the ‘Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll’).”
— Deborah Potter (@TVNewsLab) October 27, 2015
For the past 10 years, Faulkner has served as a reporter and weekend anchor with Fox News. She has also been the host of the Fox program A Current Affair and the Fox current affairs program The Nancy Grace Show. She has been awarded six Emmy awards for her work.
Harris “put Hasbro on notice” in January 2015, calling the company using her name and likeness for the toy “demeaning and insulting.” However, she didn’t file the lawsuit until September.
Now, Hasbro is firing back. On Monday, the defendant showed a judge in a New Jersey federal court side-by-side photos of Harris and the hamster toy, and issued a partial motion to have the case dismissed.
“Because name-sameness is not enough to state a claim for a violation of one’s right of publicity under well-established law, and because Ms. Faulkner’s attempt to claim that the hamster toy misappropriates her likeness is implausible on its face, Ms. Faulkner’s Third Cause of Action alleging a violation of her right of publicity fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted and should be dismissed with prejudice,” the motion reads.
By Eriq Gardner Harris Faulkner is suing over a toy that shares her name, and according to her, a physical… https://t.co/HtI1RvQsAQ — RazzleTazzle (@RazzleTazzleMag) October 27, 2015
In Faulkner’s lawsuit, she claims the toys “bear 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.” However, Hasbro refutes that claim, saying they look nothing alike.
“First, Ms. Faulkner is an adult, African-American, human, female newscaster; the Hamster Toy is an inch-tall, cartoon-like plastic animal, which has no apparent gender or profession, or even clothing that might identify its gender or profession,” Hasbro said.
Hasbro then explained that the toy does not even have the same complexion as Faulkner, and it has fur, not skin, that is “golden yellow, a wisp of ‘hair’ that is medium-brown, a pink nose, and a muzzle that is white.” Furthermore, Hasbro said the hamster toy does not have the size or shape of Faulkner’s eyes. “Ms. Faulkner has brown, almond-shaped eyes; the Hamster Toy has large, circular blue eyes.”
Guys, Just go in your rooms and quietly play with your Harris Faulkner dolls. http://t.co/wXT2r9tIRA
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) September 6, 2015
Faulkner will now have a chance to respond to Hasbro’s motion.
What do you think about Harris Faulkner filing a lawsuit against Hasbro? Do you think the hamster toy resembles Faulkner? Leave your comments below.
[Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images]