Could Hasbro/Takara take a 3rd party release and rerelease as offical?

Discussion in 'Transformers 3rd Party Discussion' started by Ambrojh, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. LiamK

    LiamK Well-Known Member

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    Someone on the internet not understanding the difference between trademark, copyright and IP, and the different rules that apply to all of those things and which needs to be actively policed, whether that's actually possible if the violating company is in another country with murkier laws, and whether it's cost effective in the first place to do so?

    I am shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

    Still, regarding the argument that Hasbro don't own the copyright for a "red truck to robot" design isn't quite true. They certainly own the copyright for the 1984 G1 Optimus Prime figure and its related transformation. Saying that anyone could make a red truck that turns in to a robot is like saying anyone could make a toy of a character who was small, Canadian, and had claws that popped out of his hands. I believe (and I could be wrong) that the more similar they are to the "inspiration" the less legal ground they have to stand on. And I think you'd have a hard time arguing that Phoenix isn't the Sunbrow/Marvel Jetfire/Skyfire design.
     
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  2. boomerdave

    boomerdave Moderator

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    This seems the most likely to me. Someone on the engineering staff would just take the idea of a 3rd party, incorporate what he liked best into a figure and they (Hasbro / TT) produce it. Not much that could be done about it if you're a 3rd party company. Sunstreaker (IMO, as someone else said) does take a lot of cues and ideas from the BC one.

    Honestly I don't think the 3rd party company would get all worked up over it even if that happened. For an official to copy it and produce it, odds are good the 3rd party company already sold their batches and moved on to another product. They got their money and if official wanted to ride on their coat tails per se', the only thing they'd lose is rerelease potential and you could even fix that by doing like Fans Toys does with their "X" line. Paint it up fancy and make it different and it'd sell again.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  3. backhawkdown

    backhawkdown Well-Known Member

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    Owning the copyright for Prime, which happens to be a red truck that turns to a robot, only specifically applies to the unique creative expressions of the various Prime designs but it doesn’t apply to the generic idea of a red truck that turns into a robot.

    In regards to your Wolverine example, Marvel doesn’t own the idea of claws from hands, or even if the character is Canadian. Their ownership is the totality of the unique expression of the character, not simply specific elements of it in isolation. It’s why you can find fake lightsabers in the market —- Lucasfilm doesn’t own the idea of light up swords. I could create a Canadian character with claws without any issues as long as the creative expression, as a whole, is unique and not a derivative work of the Marvel design.
     
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  4. kibble

    kibble Seeker style, yo!

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    I think you have this mixed up. I think it's trademarked material they have to fight for or risk losing it to public domain. IP you can fight for or choose to ignore and it doesn't impact any rights you do or don't have over it.

    As for the OP...as Max stated earlier in the thread, HasTak would be subject to litigation, but that would require the 3rd Party to step forward, identify themselves, and pay the legal costs to do it...at which point HasTak could then probably take them to court for IP theft. My guess is HasTak could probably get away with it if they wanted to, despite being at the risk of litigation...however, I can't imagine they would ever bother. At most, they'd take the 3rd Party offering, see how it works, then use what they like about the design and change where they feel it could be improved upon or made more cost efficient resulting in a fairly original (enough) design. At that point the 3rd Party wouldn't have any legal ground to stand on.
     
  5. bellpeppers

    bellpeppers A Meat Popsicle

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    I've long advocated that HasTak KO 3P.
     
  6. dmarsee

    dmarsee Well-Known Member

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    They already have.
    This New Rare Soundwave Figure Turns Into Mock iPad

    Xiaomi designed and sold a transforming "iPad" that turned into a robot. Then they made a deal with Hasbro to sell it as an official Transformer. The details of the deal weren't revealed, so I don't know who got paid more, but I suspect it was mutually beneficial. You can tell it was blessed by Hasbro because it has their logo on the thing, even though Xiaomi designed and manufactured it.

    My guess is that if any 3P company *wanted* their figures to be "official," or if Hasbro wanted to sell the figures as official, all they have to do is contact one another.
     
  7. Predakwon

    Predakwon ...Green Lantern's light!

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    It would be so awesome if Hastak took a 3rd party design, top to bottom, and released it.

    This board would explode.
     
  8. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Not really. We were all in awe at how nice it looked, as the only real attempt at the design known at the time. And other than the gappy rear end of the car, she still looks pretty damned good.

    ToyWorld got villified because their version came out 20 years later, and yet, is somehow worse in every way imaginable.
     
  9. TFXProtector

    TFXProtector Well-Known Member

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    At best, Hasbro will clone their ideas and design.

    They won't fully KO them. There's also no need to. Much like it was said, Hasbro has safety laws to follow, so they'll modify any and all pre-existing designs to fit that mold, so they're technically not KOing while KOing. Hasbro would then 4th party 4th party.

    It's been said the Optimus Takara Tomy made was arguably better than Wei Jiang's and how certain parts transformed. With it being in scale with other figures, Takara Tomy out foxed the foxes, so to speak.

    And I find it awesome of Has/Tak to NOT do something like this, because it forces them to think outside the box and we end up with figures like what we're getting in Siege. (I before E, people! S I E G E...)

    Heck, even POTP had some really great figures hadn't gotten before from official sources in updated forms, so it's all worked out for us.
     
  10. CigarJackal

    CigarJackal Cy-gar smoking beast warrior

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    HasTak could take them to court if that company called their toy Optimus Prime, LaserWave, Autobot Jazz, etc. Otherwise they would be suing over a vehicle that turns into a robot, which is something that HasTak does not have IP protection over.
     
  11. CigarJackal

    CigarJackal Cy-gar smoking beast warrior

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    And there would be a David vs Goliath lawsuit to contend with. A small 3P company, trying to make ends meet, while a huge multi-national corporation steals their design and try to drive them out of business, lawyers salivate over such scenarios.
     
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  12. hoptimusprime

    hoptimusprime Well-Known Member

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    I always thought that they should do it like how a comic book company does an imprint. Like when DC Comics bought Wildstorm and it was its own separate universe just published by DC. They could do Fanstoys by HasTak. It would be a Fanstoy product aimed at collectors but have the resources of HasTak for production facilities, QC, and the like
     
  13. kibble

    kibble Seeker style, yo!

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    Eh...I would think HasTak could probably win a suit if they could take them to court in the US. It is a gray area, but if this was Matell or somebody making an Optimus Prime clone, I think you could bet your ass they'd be duking it out in court. I think they don't bother here because 3rd Party is small potatoes...the cost would likely outweigh the benefit, who the heck do they go after, and how do they get them to show up in court? These 3rd Parties seem fairly anonymous. But if they wanted to make it simple for HasTak and just show up in a courtroom in the US (or Japan,) then hey...while we're here, how about we look at this too?
     
  14. Lodril

    Lodril Poet of Destruction

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    The principal deterrent to Hasbro or Takara making those sorts of (unlicensed) copies is the scaling of the damages.
    From a copyright perspective, just because something is a derivative work it does not mean that the owners of the original work gain any rights in the derivatives... all they can do is stop them, and sue for any lost sales, etc, they can't make legal copies of their own. Copyright in the derivative work remains with the derivative work's creators; if I sample your music for a rap song, you can stop me from selling tapes, but you don't gain any rights to my mad rhymes.

    Thus, if Hasbro/Takara were simply copying a 3P design, the parties could both be liable for copyright infringement of each other! Unfortunately for Hasbro/Takara, that does not put them on equal footing... or perhaps it does? It depends on your perspective, but either way, it's bad news for the bigger party.

    Damages are based on the greater of infringing sales or lost sales. Thus, with both parties on the hook, Hasbro could demand payment for the 2k or so toys sold in the 3P run and the 3P could, in turn, demand payment for the 10k or so toys that Hasbro produced... thus Hasbro loses money in that contest from the get-go. That can be further enhanced because while a 3P could argue their derivative work does not directly infringe (it's only a derivative work, not a straight copy), Hasbro in this hypothetical has produced a straight-up knock-off that knowingly infringes... which means that the judge could very well decide to levy punitive damages to Hasbro on top of the already tilted landscape.

    Even worse for Hasbro/Takara, many places now allow representation based on a contingency basis, meaning that the small 3P who are usually outgunned in court can now hire attorneys who are willing to work for a percentage of the winnings, thus leveling the representational gap that usually exists between them... that same type of arrangement brought down Big Tobacco, who had way more money than Hasbro and Takara put together.

    In short, unlicensed copying of the 3P productions just isn't worth the risk for the big companies. If a design were desirable, it would be far cheaper to license or buy the designs up-front than to deal with it as an infringement suit later on... and if that wasn't possible, it would still be cheaper to take all the same ideas and just make a totally new version of it than to risk investing in producing a copy and then losing all the profits.
     
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  15. Nighthawkblack

    Nighthawkblack Well-Known Member

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    Even automakers steel ideas and designs from each other. Sometimes they get sued and lose but they win when it comes down to patents. I think Takara is very much watching what designers put out. Why does everyone always say Hasbro. Has Hasbro designed any mainstream transformer lines in the last 30 years but maybe for action masters?
     
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  16. CigarJackal

    CigarJackal Cy-gar smoking beast warrior

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    Hasbro's in house design team gave us shellformers and pretenders. They need to leave design to the Asians.
     
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  17. primetime77

    primetime77 Well-Known Member

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    the only instance i've seen unofficial stuff becoming official was with voltron and robotech.
    there was non transforming SD Voltron that was so well received the license holder later allowed them to make it under license (i am guessing they had to py a fee or evan back fees is my guess?).

    also the kitz concept SD veritechs started out as some other company's unlicensed 3P product. kitz concept bought the design, improved the tolerances/engineerng/finish and released it as an officially licensed robotech product.
     
  18. metalwar2010

    metalwar2010 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure Has/Tak would bother. I don't work for Has/Tak but I would think stealing a design and making it theirs would be a slippery slope since the products they make are marketed to both kids and parents. They already spend a lot of time trying to differentiate between a legit product and fake or anything that may try to mimic TF's i.e. Tonka or whoever wants to play in the robot market. I'm not sure if the child safety laws play any role in that or not.

    Plus, I feel like when a company, official or not, wants to jump in that character pool, they tend to do it more justice then the previous version anyway, which tends to lure customers away from the older product. Has/Tak does it to themselves, including OP and BB 2.0 coming soon.