General question about toy licensing and trademarked names.

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Dsparks75, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Dsparks75

    Dsparks75 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Posts:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Likes:
    +0
    Hello all-

    I was just curious how it is we can have Jazz called Jazz in the movie, but it's Autobot Jazz on the toy package? Same with Hot Rod. In the Escalation comic, he was called Hot Rod, but as far as a toy goes, it's Rodimus.

    So what's the deal? I'm not a business or ecomonics major by any means. I was just curious...

    Later.
     
  2. Prisoner1138

    Prisoner1138 TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Posts:
    2,018
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Likes:
    +1
    Because they call Autobot Jazz by only his last name, and hot rod is an excellent nickname for rodimus.

    It could very well be that the trademark licensing bs only applies to the toys and not animated or drawn characters.
     
  3. lars573

    lars573 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2007
    Posts:
    6,859
    Trophy Points:
    197
    Likes:
    +27
    The whole Autobot/Decepticon *insert G1 name* is done so that the name isn't generic, and thus Hasbro can fight challenges to name useage in court. It's also why they have a certian stable of names they always use.
     
  4. Motor_Master

    Motor_Master Lets the balls touch TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2002
    Posts:
    11,565
    News Credits:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    292
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Likes:
    +22
    Names like Hot Rod can't be used any more, because there is another product of the same class with the same or similar name on the market. In the case I hot rod, One of the Hasbro folks at botcon stated that Hot Rod Magazine has been licensing usage of it's name on products. So most likely there's a toy some where that has a Hot Rod magazine name/logo on it, thus preventing Hasbro from using the name.

    Name like Ratchet, Hook, Jazz, etc are too generic, so in order to get approval, for trademarking, they had to add the word Autobot or Deception in front of it.
     
  5. Veloxiraptor

    Veloxiraptor Moé than Meets the Eye

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Posts:
    1,280
    News Credits:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Likes:
    +4
    The Ratchet & Clank video games are supposedly the reason for Ratchet's title.
     
  6. Sidecutter

    Sidecutter Evil Dealer Scum TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2004
    Posts:
    5,098
    News Credits:
    17
    Trophy Points:
    272
    Likes:
    +41
    The basic gist of it is that name rights do not extend across everything made. Name rights are secured seperately for each category of product (Comic, movie, toy, video game, etc, etc.). Some words or names cannot be "secured" because they're common English words, but those can usually be Reserved, instead of Trademarked. Reserving gives much less protection, so it's highly preferable to have something unique like "Autobot Jazz", as Hasbro can show long ownership and use of Autobot, and prior use of Jazz, and the combined term is wholly unique to their product/properties.

    Marks can be weakened or expire with disuse too, hence why we constantly see uses of key names.

    Another movie could come out this year and call a character Jazz with no issues, most likely. A comic probably could to, as long as neither one was a giant robot or transformed.
     
  7. Rodimus

    Rodimus The Prime Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2003
    Posts:
    4,678
    Trophy Points:
    207
    Likes:
    +4
    See that's something I don't get. I mean Hot Rod magazine has always been around, and we've always called custom cars Hot Rods. Not to mention there was a WWF wrestler who went by the nickname Hot Rod and wore a Hot Rod T-shirt. But still in that same time Period Hasbro was able to use the name Hot Rod for one of their characters (and a dang cool one I might add ;)  ). So why now after all this time the copyright difficulties with it?

    And why can that rediculous looking new movie get away with calling itself Hot Rod? (And it doesn't even have anything to do with the term as everybody traditionaly knows it.)

    I don't understand this stuff. Here's another one....

    Hasbro was the first I ever heard of to use the term "The Matrix" in all of entertainment. Heck, as a kid I even used to think it was totally unique to Transformers and that they made that cool word up. So when the movie "The Matrix" came out I was pissed that they ripped off Hasbro and Transformers....

    And yet, Hasbro was not allowed to use the term "Matrix" in their Transformers movie even though they were the first ones to use it. Why is that?

    In my eyes, Hasbro has a right to sue the Witkawski Brothers (or what ever their name is) who named their movie The Matrix. But for some unknown reason, Hasbro has to submit to THEM, even though those brothers were not the first to use it and Hasbro was. And as for it having to be in the same catagory, Hasbro did use it in a movie too, just like those brothers, only Hasbro did it 15 years before The Matrix movie was ever made! I just don't get it.
     
  8. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Posts:
    13,966
    News Credits:
    240
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Location:
    Germany
    Likes:
    +413
    "Reserved"? Do you mean "Registered", like ®? That's actually a BETTER protection than a mere ™, which is why Hasbro usually aim for registering trademarks these days. I never heard of "reserved".

    Also, trademarks only apply to specific fields such as "Toys", as others have said before, but also to ADVERTISING. For example, DC Comics can have a character named "Captain Marvel" run around in a million titles, meeting Superman, fighting Mr. Mind and whatnot, and all the characters can refer to him as "Captain Marvel" in the dialogue. But when the character is shown on the COVER OF THE COMIC, you won't see the name "Captain Marvel" anywhere, since Marvel Comics own the trademark. As a result, all the stories Captain Marvel (DC) appears in have substitutes such as "The Power of SHAZAM!" on the cover.

    And that's the same as with movies. TradeMARKs only apply to MARKeting. Not "content". And a toy's packaging is marketing.
     
  9. aussiehippy

    aussiehippy Au contraire, Blackadder.

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Posts:
    2,024
    Trophy Points:
    186
    Likes:
    +1
    Ebay:
    Obviously, Hasbro didn't invent the word 'Matrix', it's a common word, especially in maths and linguistics. I don't think the Wachowskis purposefully ripped off the Transformers use of the word, in fact, it's entirely possible they've never seen that movie.
    And it's not the case that the new film couldn't use the word "Matrix", they just didn't want to (quite rightly) because the vast majority of their target audience has seen The Matrix and they don't want that kind of association.
     
  10. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Posts:
    13,966
    News Credits:
    240
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Location:
    Germany
    Likes:
    +413
    Hasbro could theoretically use the word "Matrix". It's just so commonly associated with the movie franchise of the same name, it doesn't MATTER if Hasbro used it 15 years earlier. Jimbob McMoviegoer would hear the word "Matrix" and think "bah, poor ripoff". That's the association Hasbro and particularly Dreamworks wanted to avoid. It doesn't matter who came first; what matters is whose use of the word is more well-known. And you can't seriously believe that more people would rather think of a 21-year-old animated movie based on a toyline than a three-part blockbuster movie series when they hear the word "Matrix".
     
  11. Backpack

    Backpack Scattershot who?

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2002
    Posts:
    3,118
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Likes:
    +7
    I have a question.

    If a Trademark has lapsed, can someone come along and just redo the whole thing, using the same characters and setting? The TM has lapsed for everything TV, Merchendise, comics, toys and games, etc. Would the creators copy rights still be in effect?

    There is an old property that has long since lost it's Trademarks and has been ignored for decades. Could someone legally bring it back? Create a new series using the old characters without permission from the creators?
     
  12. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Posts:
    13,966
    News Credits:
    240
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Location:
    Germany
    Likes:
    +413
    ARGH.

    Copyrights and trademarks are two entirely separate things.

    Copyright concerns the content. The story, the art, the text, whatever. If you create something that achieves a certain "threshold of originality", it's automatically copyrighted to the creator. You don't need to officially register something to make it copyrighted; you create it, and you automatically hold the copyright (assuming you didn't rip off someone else's work). Copyright remains in effect until either 50 or 70 years after the author's death. An exception to this rule occurs when someone creates something under a "work for hire" contract that explicitly grants the employer the copyright of any work created under the contract.

    Trademark is TOTALLY SEPARATE from copyright. You have the copyrighted product here, and now you need a name to sell it. That's where trademark comes into play.

    If a trademark expires, it's really just the trademark that expires. The copyright still remains in effect (unless the original author has died either 50 or 70 years ago). If you lose a trademark, you can simply sell the same product under a new trademark. For example, Hasbro lost the rights to the name "Hot Rod"; but that doesn't mean that Mattel can release their own version of the G1 Hot Rod toy tomorrow. Instead, Hasbro released a reissue renamed "Rodimus Major".
     
  13. Backpack

    Backpack Scattershot who?

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2002
    Posts:
    3,118
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Likes:
    +7
    So if the Trademark has lapsed, one could use the title but not the content, correct?
     
  14. Dsparks75

    Dsparks75 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2007
    Posts:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Likes:
    +0
    All this is making my head hurt.

    I want to thank everyone for the info!
     
  15. Rattrap Primal

    Rattrap Primal Geek Overlord

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2006
    Posts:
    7,719
    Trophy Points:
    197
    Location:
    Woodbury, NJ
    Likes:
    +32
    I think Hasbro has the trademarks again for

    Shockwave (vs pack Mini-con, Robot Heroes, upcoming Heroes figure)
    Ravage (Robot Heroes Ravage)
     
  16. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

    Joined:
    May 14, 2004
    Posts:
    13,966
    News Credits:
    240
    Trophy Points:
    312
    Location:
    Germany
    Likes:
    +413
    Lanard abandoned the "Shockwave" trademark in 2005 (too late for the Alternators toy), and Hasbro were quick to grab it. They used it on the Mini-Con just to keep it.
    Technically, they never lost "Ravage", or they wouldn't have been able to call toys "Battle Ravage" or "Command Ravage" either (again, if adding a prefix was a valid way to circumvene someone else's existing trademark, Bandai could release a "Megazord Optimus Prime" toy tomorrow and Hasbro could do nothing about it). The suits at Hasbro apparently just thought that "Ravage" by itself was too generic to be easily defended as a trademark in court. Apparently, that opinion has changed (technically, the first toy to use the single name "Ravage" again was the original toy that came with the TRU Soundwave reissue, called "Ravage" in the instructions but "Battle Ravage" on the packaging; and then came the Alternators toy, the Jaguar XK, also simply called "Ravage").

    Hasbro also has "Bumblebee" back, which apparently wasn't an easy task either, as two companies objected the trademark claim.

    Exactly.

    Hasbro have the rights to use the name "Go-Bots", and they called an Armada Mini-Con "Leader-1" a few years back. But they don't have the rights to reissue the Tonka Gobots (even though they bought up Tonka in the early Nineties), because Tonka's license for Bandai's Machine Robo toys expired a long time ago.

    Back on the original topic: If the property (i.e. the content) hasn't been used in decades, and it's not clear who actually owns the rights to it, you could try to make a case for it to be in the public domain. If no-one steps forward to defend the copyrights, a court would judge that no-one would defend the copyright, and therefore it had lapsed as well. However, that doesn't mean you could claim exclusive rights to the original content; rather, it would end up in the public domain, meaning that everyone could use it. However, you could create new content based on the original property, no-one could sue you for copyright infringement once the original property has entered the public domain, and your new content would be copyrighted again.
     

Share This Page