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Hasbro fails to block sales of Transformer Prime

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Asus will be allowed to continue selling its EeePad Transformer Prime tablet, despite complaints from Hasbro that the name would lead consumers to think that the convertible Tegra 3-tablet was produced by the toy maker. The federal court judge denied Hasbro's request for a preliminary injunction to halt sales of the tablet.

Transformer Prime Google art
Transformer Prime Google art

Asus will be allowed to continue selling its Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablet, despite complaints from Hasbro that the name would lead consumers to think that the convertible Tegra 3-tablet was produced by the toymaker. Hasbro sued Asus in a US federal district court late last year over the name, months after the release of the Eee Pad Transformer and the announcement of the Transformer Prime.

In the case, Hasbro requested a preliminary injunction against Asus to have sales of the tablets halted until the case could be decided, citing that the products confused consumers and diluted its trademark. The judge, however, sided against Hasbro on nearly every point. While the neither the judge nor Asus disputed Hasbro's claim to the pending "Transformers" and "Transformers Prime" trademarks — the latter of which is the name of a year-and-a-half old animated TV show — the judge decided that the toymaker failed to prove that its products and the tablets would every be mistaken for each other. The products target different audiences, and the branding the two companies use are distinctly different. Hasbro argued that it has considered launching a Transformers-branded laptop and that it has plans to develop a Transformers Prime line of merchandise this year, but the judge says that since Hasbro doesn't detail the nature of these products it can't be determined if Asus' tablets will harm the toymaker. Additionally, the judge agreed with Asus that its naming scheme had nothing to do with Hasbro's products, citing that the "Transformer" portion of the name accurately describes the convertible nature of the tablets.

Lastly, the judge determined that Hasbro failed to demonstrate that it would suffer "irreparable injury" from its failure to halt Asus' sales of the Transformer Prime. The judge again sides with Asus, saying that the company and other suppliers would suffer if forced to recall its products — estimated at 80,000 shipments to retailers over the next two months. While Hasbro has failed to get a preliminary injunction to halt Asus' sales of the tablet, the company can continue with the case and further seek remedy, but it may be dissuaded from such action following the judge's near-total agreement with Asus over the merits of the case.

Update: The decision also reveals that the Transformer Prime didn't manage to garner too many preorders. The company managed to get 2,000 preorders as of late February, a number that certainly pales in comparison to the new iPad's 3 million units sold in its first weekend.

The court's conclusion, in full:

In sum, Hasbro has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its infringement and dilution claims. Even assuming "serious questions" going to the merits are raised, the present record fails to evidence a likelihood of irreparable injury or that the balance of the equities tips sharply in Hasbro's favor. Having waited until the purportedly infringing and diluting tablets had been on the market for almost a year, the Court sees no grounds for invoking the extraordinary and drastic remedy of preliminary relief that would reverse the status quo ante before the parties have had the opportunity to try the case on its merits. The motion is DENIED.