Harris Faulkner Hamster Toy Brings Trouble To Hasbro

Toy maker Hasbro is facing a lawsuit because it named a Littlest Pet Shop hamster Harris Faulkner.

package with Harris Faulkner hamster figurine
Via Amazon.com 
The Harris Faulkner hamster is packaged together with a Terrier named Benson Detwyler.

Choosing a hamster name is usually a joyful experience. Pet owners might spend days pondering the perfect moniker for a new hamster, or any pet. The naming process for products is, I’m sure, much different.

As of a few days ago, toy maker Hasbro of Rhode Island might be questioning the wisdom of naming one of its Littlest Pet Shop toys with the same name as journalist Harris Faulkner. On August 31, attorneys for the journalist filed a lawsuit in New Jersey that seeks $5 million in damages for the use of her name for a hamster figurine in the Littlest Pet Shop toy line. The lawsuit states that Hasbro has caused substantial commercial and emotional damage to Faulkner.

According to the lawsuit, the Harris Faulkner hamster toy went on sale in 2014 and Faulkner notified Hasbro in January 2015 that “its use of her name, likeness, identity or persona was illegal and unauthorized.” On February 6, 2015, the toy was still available for sale on the Hasbro website. The lawsuit further states:

“As of the date of this Complaint, more than five months after Hasbro was put on notice of its wrongful activity, Faulkner’s name is still being used on a website owned by Defendant to sell “Littlest Pet Shop” toys — indeed, at least through July 2015, on this page, consumers were directed to other websites where the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll could be purchased. Today, the product is still available for sale on Amazon.com, toyztime.com, and elsewhere.”  

Faulkner is an emmy-winning journalist who currently works at Fox News Channel. She has worked for more than two decades to establish a reputation.

The Littlest Pet Shop website shows that the toy line includes hundreds of figurines from many categories, including small mammals, dogs, cats, bird, Arctic animals, cold-blooded, forest, grassland, Outback and sea creatures. It includes a guinea pig named Kiki Russo, a rabbit named Lilac Bennett and a mouse named Dusty West. The toy line has also spawned TV shows, a video game, apps, stuffed animals and more.

The lawsuit states that Hasbro’s most recent financial report notes that the Littlest Pet Shop brand is estimated to generate hundreds of millions in revenue each quarter.

What Hasbro did is actionable, according to the lawsuit, because:

“Hasbro never sought—and Faulkner never gave—permission for her name, likeness, identity, or persona to be used in connection with the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll. Nor did she assign, license, or otherwise consent to Hasbro using her name as a trademark. Further, Faulkner does not endorse products of any kind, as doing so would be a breach of journalistic ethics, would directly harm her professional credibility, and would be in violation of her contractual obligations to her employer.”

Hasbro has stated to other news sources that it does not comment on litigation.
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