Fox News Anchor Doesn’t Want to Share Her Name with a Hamster

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Cute HamsterA Fox News anchor has sued toy company Hasbro Inc. for giving her name to a plastic hamster.

According to her complaint,

Harris Faulkner, the uniquely named, acclaimed veteran journalist and author, has worked for decades to establish and maintain her personal brand and laudable professional reputation. Without Faulkner’s prior knowledge or consent, Defendant Hasbro, Inc. (“Hasbro”), a multi-billion dollar toy company, willfully and wrongfully appropriated Faulkner’s unique and valuable name and distinctive persona for its own financial gain—by creating, manufacturing, and distributing for sale a plastic toy hamster named “Harris Faulkner” as part of Hasbro’s “Littlest Pet Shop” product line (the “Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll”).

The Harris hamster figure is marketed as the “little pet friend” of a plastic terrier named Benson Detwyler, a continuing character on the Littlest Pet Shop TV series. 

Faulkner-the-journalist put Hasbro on notice of her objection to the toy’s name in January, but her lawyers say the toy company failed to respond.

Outnumbered

Faulkner-the-journalist is the co-host of the Fox news show “Outnumbered,” “Featuring an ensemble of four female panelists and #OneLuckyGuy,” according to the network.

She has been nominated for six Emmy awards.

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Trademark

The packaging for the Hasbro toy includes a “TM” trademark symbol after Harris-the-hamster’s name. Faulkner-the-journalist says this damages her professional reputation:

[S]ince Faulkner does not, and as a journalist cannot, endorse commercial products, Hasbro’s use of her name in association with the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll creates the false impression that Faulkner would impugn her own professional ethics by agreeing to have a commercial product named after her.

Further, she says Hasbro

falsely signifies that Hasbro claims a United States trademark interest in Faulkner’s name, when it in fact owns no such interest, registered or otherwise.

Look-alike?

In addition to stealing her name, Faulkner-the-journalist says Hasbro has duplicated her appearance:

elements of the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll also bear a physical resemblance to Faulkner’s traditional professional appearance, in particular tone of its complexion, the shape of its eyes, and the design of its eye makeup.

Choking Hazard

Faulkner-the-journalist also objects to being associated with a toy that’s labeled as a “choking hazard” for young children.

A Hasbro spokesperson issued a statement that “all products in the Littlest Pet Shop line… meet and exceed all safety standards.”

The complaint is at Harris Faulkner v. Hasbro, Inc.

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Names as Trademarks

Personal names can be registered as trademarks, and many celebrities such as Madonna and Brad Pitt use this form of protection.

In a 2005 case, actor Morgan Freeman applied for a trademark for his name and used this to win the rights to the domain name morganfreeman.com. He claimed that the domain “was being used in bad faith to divert Internet traffic to a commercial search engine.” 

Under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, trademark owners can sue to collect damages and recover a domain name from someone who, with a bad faith intent to profit, registers a domain name that matches, or is confusingly similar to, a registered trademark.

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