The Autobots and the Justice League almost crossed over in a cool-looking comic series that sadly never got the green light, but now a Transformer and another DC hero having a faceoff. Only instead of a cool series, it’s a lawsuit about toys.
Variety reports that Hasbro, the company that owns the Transformers, is suing DC’s parent company Warner Bros. because it believes one of the comic characters is infringing on its copyright. Specifically, they’re worried that consumers might mistake toys of the giant yellow robot Transformer Bumblebee with the teenage African-American heroine Bumblebee. It’s an easy mistake to make if you’re absurdly militant about intellectual property.
Hasbro’s got a Bumblebee spin-off movie coming out on Christmas in 2018, so they want to make sure DC and Mattel stop selling a Bumblebee toy in the DC Super Hero Girls line and a Lego set featuring the character.
The DC heroine Bumblebee first appeared in an issue of Teen Titans in December 1976 before officially adopting the Bumblebee name in early January of 1977. Hasbro started selling Bumblebee toys in 1983.
Warner Bros. announced the DC Super Hero Girls franchise in April 2015. Hasbro filed for a trademark on “Bumblebee” as a name in July of that year, and the trademark was approved in December.
Make of all this what you will.