MANHATTAN (CN) – Defending its Transformers character Bumblebee as iconic, toy giant Hasbro brought a federal trademark complaint against DC Comics for introducing its own size-changing hero with the same name.
Decades before director Michael Bay brought the franchise to the silver screen, Hasbro bought a line of Japanese toys depicting humanoid figures that could transform into everyday vehicles.
The company hired two Marvel writers to create an alien backstory for the characters, deputing comic books and an animated series in the mid-1980s.
Bumblebee transforms from a yellow Chevrolet Camaro hotrod into Autobot, “the first to step up when enemies threaten the human race.”
Triggering an Aug. 28 complaint from Hasbro in New York, DC Comics a new Bumblebee character last year.
Part of the toy series Super Hero Girls, manufactured by Mattel, DC Comics’ Bumblebee is advertised as a “trend-loving social bug” who can transform “a routine school day to a Super Hero adventure.”
Sporting bumblebee wings, the DC Comics character goes to high school with several adolescent versions of characters in the DC Comic Universe including Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman.
Hasbro’s Bumblebee meanwhile is set to star in his own Transformers spinoff — the first of the Paramount Pictures franchise — for Christmas 2018. The film franchise has grossed more than $4 billion worldwide.
In this week’s complaint, Hasbro calls DC Comics’ Bumblebee toys “spurious” and “confusingly similar to” its 1983 trademarks.
With superpowers like “enhanced strength, flight, ability to shrink, projects sonic blasts,” Hasbro says the teenage-girl Bumblebee is too close to the trademarks of its Transformers character.
Saying the Bumblebee from Transformers lore is one most widely recognized trademarks in the United States, it says the character “has come to symbolize tremendous and extensive goodwill throughout the United States.”
Rhode Island-based Hasbro is represented by Maura Wogan with Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz
The toy company has several other successful animated cartoon tie-ins including “GI Joe” and My Little Pony.”
The complaint has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield.
Representatives for DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment did not immediately respond to requests for comment.