Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby CdogCdog4 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:40 am

ZeroWolf wrote:@Ironhideish the only way to get hasbro to stop being greedy is if Shareholders do something but considering they are the ones who are the constant drive for profit...We're never going to get to that point.

Remember this news is only affecting KOs who are deliberately using trademarks, 3P are unaffected by this and will continue to do so. In essence the 3p biggest threat isn't hasbro anyway, but other 3p companies and companies who make kos of their products.


I wouldn't be so sure, it's highly likely they will go after them if they find a reason to. Because let's face it 3rd party and knock off are in the same category and there is a thin line between the two, at heart (I mean they are sold in the same area online ect.) but the law is where it matters. But the law can be twisted. And changed. ;)
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby ZeldaTheSwordsman » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:52 am

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Well yes, but Fansproject, MakeToys, etc. don't copy Hasbro's products piece for piece, or put them in packaging that outright says "Transformers" on it. Hasbro does have to take an occasional swing at the people who go that far in order to retain their IP rights.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby leokearon » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:29 pm

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CdogCdog4 wrote:
ZeroWolf wrote:@Ironhideish the only way to get hasbro to stop being greedy is if Shareholders do something but considering they are the ones who are the constant drive for profit...We're never going to get to that point.

Remember this news is only affecting KOs who are deliberately using trademarks, 3P are unaffected by this and will continue to do so. In essence the 3p biggest threat isn't hasbro anyway, but other 3p companies and companies who make kos of their products.


I wouldn't be so sure, it's highly likely they will go after them if they find a reason to. Because let's face it 3rd party and knock off are in the same category and there is a thin line between the two, at heart (I mean they are sold in the same area online ect.) but the law is where it matters. But the law can be twisted. And changed. ;)


3rd Parties may not copy Hasbro toys, but they are using their characters' likenesses for their own profit. You can make a Spider-man toy, call him something different put him in his own unique packaging but you aren't really going to fool anyone. After the KO's the third parties will be targeted.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Ironhidensh » Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:14 pm

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leokearon wrote:
CdogCdog4 wrote:
ZeroWolf wrote:@Ironhideish the only way to get hasbro to stop being greedy is if Shareholders do something but considering they are the ones who are the constant drive for profit...We're never going to get to that point.

Remember this news is only affecting KOs who are deliberately using trademarks, 3P are unaffected by this and will continue to do so. In essence the 3p biggest threat isn't hasbro anyway, but other 3p companies and companies who make kos of their products.


I wouldn't be so sure, it's highly likely they will go after them if they find a reason to. Because let's face it 3rd party and knock off are in the same category and there is a thin line between the two, at heart (I mean they are sold in the same area online ect.) but the law is where it matters. But the law can be twisted. And changed. ;)


3rd Parties may not copy Hasbro toys, but they are using their characters' likenesses for their own profit. You can make a Spider-man toy, call him something different put him in his own unique packaging but you aren't really going to fool anyone. After the KO's the third parties will be targeted.



Doubtful. Hasbro would loose more money fighting it in court, than they stood to gain.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Burn » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:18 pm

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This has NOTHING to do with rising prices and is most definitely NOT in relation to the recent increase in MP prices. Why? Because this case has been around for a while, LONG BEFORE the likes of the new Optimus was announced.

Hasbro (not TakaraTomy) have been working on this for years, legal action no doubt began when the first "G1 reissues" started to hit the market.

This isn't about price, this is about protecting their property, and in a way, their consumers who do NOT want to be ripped off by non-genuine products which are often of poorer quality (as the early "G1 reissues" were.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby -Kanrabat- » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:25 pm

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Burn wrote:This isn't about price, this is about protecting their property, and in a way, their consumers who do NOT want to be ripped off by non-genuine products which are often of poorer quality (as the early "G1 reissues" were.


This need to be expanded to anime figures as well. But clearing out all those damn "reissues" is one big step in the right direction.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Wireless_Phantom » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:25 pm

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I'm of two minds about this issue. I'm glad Hasbro is taking out some of these companies, but at the same time some vintage figures that KO companies were making versions of probably won't ever be remade now (things like G1 Swoop, where the original mold was lost)
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Hellscream9999 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:27 pm

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Wireless_Phantom wrote:I'm of two minds about this issue. I'm glad Hasbro is taking out some of these companies, but at the same time some vintage figures that KO companies were making versions of probably won't ever be remade now (things like G1 Swoop, where the original mold was lost)

Well, if all the recent reissues and the poll are anything to judge by, hasbro clearly knows this market exists and is likely in the process of expanding on it
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Black Hat » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:29 pm

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Yeah, actual 1:1 KOs are what's being targeted here. I don't think Hasbro would stand a chance of getting "original" 3Ps being taken down; China is notoriously fierce in its defence of its own industry, and given that 3Ps occupy a sort of "grey area" the chances are that Hasbro wouldn't get anywhere in a Chinese court. They only went after these companies because it was "easy pickings"- even in China they can't exactly pretend that's their own work.

And that's before we even get to the rumours that 3Ps and HasTak are actually friendly with each other "behind the scenes" and operate under a gentlemen's agreement not to step on each other's toes. Obviously worth taking with a grain of salt, but I can believe it- stranger things have happened in the world of business.

Regardless, I won't imagine 3Ps going away any time soon, or even "modified" KOs really. If 1:1 KOs get the axe (which they probably won't, these businesses just change their name and set up shop elsewhere) then good riddance though.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Dr. Caelus » Sun Dec 30, 2018 4:16 pm

Patents only last 20yrs, so any toy designs patented before 1998 should be legally reproducible. G1 figures would have become public domain a long time ago.

Copyrights last much longer, though, so, ironically, the artwork and names on the toy's packaging is protected longer than the toy.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Ultra Markus » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:57 pm

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i certainly hope this means no more cheap KOs being sold or produced and crooks trying to pass them off as genuine
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Acolyte » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:38 pm

gantzrunner wrote: These hurt, but imagine getting prime 3.0 and having something like this happen. At his price it's unimaginable.


So much this. Coming from someone who's loved the franchise my whole life but only really started collecting recently as an adult (as in, restarted with Titans Return - yes, that new), I have some fresh perspective on the "are we getting what we're paying for?" angle that every collector frets about with each new wave. The Prime Wars trilogy - while exciting for me since these were the first toys I gazed at for any length of time since I was a kid - was horrendous for skimming the margins with the use of stickers and shoddy engineering (looking at you, floppy Octones and Twinfires of the world). Overall quality of the characters suffered mightily as huge compromises were made for the sake of a combiner gimmick that - while nice - pales in comparison to what a good quality combiner can be. How do we know this? Because 3P has done it, and is where all the passion was prior to this latest burst of Studio Series/Siege releases. What is so great about Siege with me is the attention to quality at the deluxe/voyager/presumably leader level. No compromises made on articulation (within obvious reason), tight joints (overlooking one quibble with Megatron's head), firm tabs everywhere. Someone at Hastak got tired of the game and said, "See this 3P I bought last week? It makes our Optimus/Octone redeco look like a joke. Why can't I make more like this Generations Toy or Perfect Effect or Magic Square?" And Hasbro said, "Ok, let's do it. The line will be called Siege." And collectors saw that it was good, and finally got toys with the quality of what Masterpiece should have always been and consistently fails to achieve.

Someone's MP-44 is GOING to break, or arrive broken, or unable to transform because the diecast is just torqued over enough that the pin won't rotate to get the tab in (happened to my MPM-5, was furious, and I only paid $50). Toy is ruined, out of the box, before you even got to know it. Manufacturer maybe can make it right, but man - you're going to love packaging your beloved bot up and sending him away right after you meet him. Or maybe he'll arrive with paint screwed up all over from a simple ride in the plastic (happened to my MPM-4). What would be excusable at the $30 price point, possibly, is ridiculous when you're paying for a Masterpiece. What Hastak doesn't get is that people aren't just paying for the mold and the deco - they are expecting zero QC issues. That's what Masterpiece means to me. Since Hastak couldn't hack this, 3P thrived. Have you seen the attention to detail and mindfulness that goes into something like Generations Toys "Tyrant" (IDW Megatron stealth bomber). Every 3P I have ever payed more than $100 for has arrived FLAWLESS, in packaging so nice I feel like I could throw it around in my house and the toy inside would be fine. In the case of the latter, the display stand alone was the best I have ever seen in my life. Amazing! Let me know when Shockwave or Ultra Magnus will ever come with a display stand, let alone whatever the next Titan Class you're getting ripped off for is.

Hasbro chose to go after the worst infringers while keeping the market open for honest effort attempts at toys they don't intend to produce anytime soon (or don't have the imagination to - looking at Jetpower Revive Prime). This is commendable. The problem is that the loser in this case was a beast of their own making. They had to have seen the writing on the wall - huge markup MP's with very high demand - and known the risk a well-produced KO could make on their bottom line. And the risk exists for precisely the reasons we've described - because when you see a seller on eBay or Amazon (the only place you can find these toys anymore given the horrendous distribution and store closings), these are written as KO (you think Grandma understands what that means? She sees awesome toy for much lower price than anywhere else, perfect for little Jimmy) or as "reissues". Hasbro had to come after them with a machete. Won't faze most of us who already see MP quality in 3P versions everywhere. Will be disappointing to people who get the typical Hastak QC on their $300 toy and are left wondering how to make it right. Hastak's customer service in these regards can be good, but often so slow that "buyer assumes all risk" is pretty much spot on.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Megatron Wolf » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:53 pm

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If you dont want people buying knock offs then stop selling over priced garbage, all the money that was spent on that trial could've been put back into the toyline to make things better and give people less reason to buy KOs.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby william-james88 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:24 pm

Caelus wrote:Patents only last 20yrs, so any toy designs patented before 1998 should be legally reproducible. G1 figures would have become public domain a long time ago.

Copyrights last much longer, though, so, ironically, the artwork and names on the toy's packaging is protected longer than the toy.

But the toy itself comes from a design that is copywritten, no? So by reproducing the toy you are infringing on a design copyright.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby AcademyofDrX » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:30 pm

I don't know if the design itself can be copyrighted, but the characters can be, and the toys would be derivative figures of characters protected by copyright. I don't think it matters that the characters were toys first instead of comic or TV characters.

Think of it this way: if you make a Spider-Man action figure, you're violating Marvel's IP whether you're copying an existing toy design or not. I imagine hypothetical infringement claims would only boil down to the toy design if the engineering was duplicated but the character was not recognizably the same.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby william-james88 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:33 pm

AcademyofDrX wrote:I don't know if the design itself can be copyrighted, but the characters can be, and the toys would be derivative figures of characters protected by copyright. I don't think it matters that the characters were toys first instead of comic or TV characters.

Think of it this way: if you make a Spider-Man action figure, you're violating Marvel's IP whether you're copying an existing toy design or not. I imagine hypothetical infringement claims would only boil down to the toy design if the engineering was duplicated but the character was not recognizably the same.

I meant more character design that is used on the toy. We end up saying the same thing, that the toys do fall under some copyright in one way or another.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby AcademyofDrX » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:45 pm

I don't know much about toy intellectual property law and it's actually really fascinating! But the basis idea is that between patents, copyrights, and trademarks, there are multiple elements that other parties can't use.

The 3P convention of using made-up names and excluding faction symbols is one specific way to avoid trademark infringement specifically, because graphic designs like logos are explicitly protected by trademark. I doubt those omissions alone put 3P products on the right side of the law, but it may be riskier for Hasbro to go after them for many reasons.

A lot of the arguments in this thread are less about the legal implications of infringement and more ethical rationalizations for buying or selling these products. That's a whole separate argument, and I'm inclined to just let that go.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Dr. Caelus » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:01 pm

william-james88 wrote:
Caelus wrote:Patents only last 20yrs, so any toy designs patented before 1998 should be legally reproducible. G1 figures would have become public domain a long time ago.

Copyrights last much longer, though, so, ironically, the artwork and names on the toy's packaging is protected longer than the toy.

But the toy itself comes from a design that is copywritten, no? So by reproducing the toy you are infringing on a design copyright.


My recollection is that most of the season 1-2 G1 Transformers existed as toys in other lines before any of the characters we recognize were conceived. If one diligently reproduces or reverse engineers the original mold for Optimus, they're reproducing a toy that existed before any copyrights pertaining to "Optimus Prime".

If you want a comparison point, look at Armalite's AR-15 - it's design is now public domain, so anyone can manufacture it. The only copyright applies to the designation "AR-15" - only Colt is allowed to market the AR-15 as an AR-15.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Rodimus Prime » Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:41 am

Megatron Wolf wrote:If you dont want people buying knock offs then stop selling over priced garbage, all the money that was spent on that trial could've been put back into the toyline to make things better and give people less reason to buy KOs.
This is about protecting intellectual property. As long as the KOs are being produced, it's irrelevant how much the official pieces cost. And if the official pieces were cheaper, there would still be KOs, even cheaper.
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Emerje » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:38 am

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Black Hat wrote:Yeah, actual 1:1 KOs are what's being targeted here. I don't think Hasbro would stand a chance of getting "original" 3Ps being taken down; China is notoriously fierce in its defence of its own industry, and given that 3Ps occupy a sort of "grey area" the chances are that Hasbro wouldn't get anywhere in a Chinese court. They only went after these companies because it was "easy pickings"- even in China they can't exactly pretend that's their own work.

I learned a little about Chinese law while writing this article. If a company registers their properties as Hasbro has then the Chinese government will defend them like their own. All it takes for a complaining company to put things into motion is to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a violation has taken place which leads to an administrative raid by law enforcement and it escalates from there. In this case two people were fined and jailed and a company was fined. In the US this sort of infringement would lead to a civil lawsuit, but in China it's criminal. China is taking this VERY serious now. Probably doesn't hurt that Hasbro has been pumping money into China with their movie partnerships.

Caelus wrote:Patents only last 20yrs, so any toy designs patented before 1998 should be legally reproducible. G1 figures would have become public domain a long time ago.

The patents really only protect the transformation itself. It's still not OK to use Hasbro's old molds or make new ones based on Hasbro's figures of Hasbro's protected characters. So things like ratchet joints or the way Grimlock's torso slides would be part of the patent, but not the actual design details (head sculpts et al)

Caelus wrote:My recollection is that most of the season 1-2 G1 Transformers existed as toys in other lines before any of the characters we recognize were conceived. If one diligently reproduces or reverse engineers the original mold for Optimus, they're reproducing a toy that existed before any copyrights pertaining to "Optimus Prime".

Intellectual property is still property like any other and when they teamed up with Takara they took ownership of that property (outside Japan) and they renewed the patents in the US at the time. And despite the patents having expired it's still no less their character.

Caelus wrote:If you want a comparison point, look at Armalite's AR-15 - it's design is now public domain, so anyone can manufacture it. The only copyright applies to the designation "AR-15" - only Colt is allowed to market the AR-15 as an AR-15.
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Looked it up and from what I can tell the other companies made their rifles based on the ArmaLite versions, but didn't actually share any parts from them, just similar parts. That's different from the G1 knockoffs that do share molds or used reverse engineered molds. Plus a gun is just an object while Optimus Prime has further IP protections as a character.

Ironhidensh wrote:
leokearon wrote:3rd Parties may not copy Hasbro toys, but they are using their characters' likenesses for their own profit. You can make a Spider-man toy, call him something different put him in his own unique packaging but you aren't really going to fool anyone. After the KO's the third parties will be targeted.


Doubtful. Hasbro would loose more money fighting it in court, than they stood to gain.

In the case of KOs there doesn't seem to be much in the way of a court battle as long as they make a good case. While it doesn't apply here, China does have the "well-known" trademark law which basically means if a trademark is recognizable to the general Chinese public it qualifies for protection (this would apply to KO Transformers logos or faction symbols). I'd be surprised if there isn't a similar protection for copyrights that I don't know the name of. I feel like it wouldn't be that costly if they went after the more obvious things like the Masterpiece-style cars and almost anything Optimus Prime. I'm sure they know which fights would be an easy win. If a company like Harmony Gold that doesn't really make anything can keep defending their Macross/Robotech copyrights in court then surely Hasbro can.

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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby william-james88 » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:56 am

Emerje wrote:If a company like Harmony Gold that doesn't really make anything can keep defending their Macross/Robotech copyrights in court then surely Hasbro can.

Emerje

Wait a sec, thats a very interesting point. Hasbro did produce a Jetfire toy that had the macross look and even the style of headsculpt in the generations line.

So how is that different (legally speaking, I dont want to get into morality) than another company making a transforming toy that looks like Optimus but isnt called that and is its own mold?
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Emerje » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:01 am

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william-james88 wrote:
Emerje wrote:If a company like Harmony Gold that doesn't really make anything can keep defending their Macross/Robotech copyrights in court then surely Hasbro can.

Emerje

Wait a sec, thats a very interesting point. Hasbro did produce a Jetfire toy that had the macross look and even the style of headsculpt in the generations line.

So how is that different (legally speaking, I dont want to get into morality) than another company making a transforming toy that looks like Optimus but isnt called that and is its own mold?

Keep in mind that Harmony gold DID sue Hasbro over their SDCC G.I.Joe Jetfire which settled out of court (which allowed for the set to be sold on HTS even though HG demanded they be turned over to them). Then shortly after that we got Leader Jetfire so I'm guessing this release had something to do with the settlement. You don't see any Harmony Gold trademarks on Jetfire's box so it's likely the settlement was in Hasbro's favor.

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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby william-james88 » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:17 am

Emerje wrote:
william-james88 wrote:
Emerje wrote:If a company like Harmony Gold that doesn't really make anything can keep defending their Macross/Robotech copyrights in court then surely Hasbro can.

Emerje

Wait a sec, thats a very interesting point. Hasbro did produce a Jetfire toy that had the macross look and even the style of headsculpt in the generations line.

So how is that different (legally speaking, I dont want to get into morality) than another company making a transforming toy that looks like Optimus but isnt called that and is its own mold?

Keep in mind that Harmony gold DID sue Hasbro over their SDCC G.I.Joe Jetfire which settled out of court (which allowed for the set to be sold on HTS even though HG demanded they be turned over to them). Then shortly after that we got Leader Jetfire so I'm guessing this release had something to do with the settlement. You don't see any Harmony Gold trademarks on Jetfire's box so it's likely the settlement was in Hasbro's favor.

Emerje

So that means that the toy did not infringe on Harmony Gold's copyright, which may mean that a 3p item that looks like a known Hasbro character might not infringe on Hasbro's, right?
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby leokearon » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:33 am

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william-james88 wrote:
Emerje wrote:If a company like Harmony Gold that doesn't really make anything can keep defending their Macross/Robotech copyrights in court then surely Hasbro can.

Emerje

Wait a sec, thats a very interesting point. Hasbro did produce a Jetfire toy that had the macross look and even the style of headsculpt in the generations line.

So how is that different (legally speaking, I dont want to get into morality) than another company making a transforming toy that looks like Optimus but isnt called that and is its own mold?


Don't forget they were homaging G1 Jetfire which is a Hasbro Toy, so Hasbro could have used that as part of their defence
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Re: Hasbro wins legal battle against bootlegs in China

Postby Emerje » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:45 am

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william-james88 wrote:
Emerje wrote:
william-james88 wrote:
Emerje wrote:If a company like Harmony Gold that doesn't really make anything can keep defending their Macross/Robotech copyrights in court then surely Hasbro can.

Emerje

Wait a sec, thats a very interesting point. Hasbro did produce a Jetfire toy that had the macross look and even the style of headsculpt in the generations line.

So how is that different (legally speaking, I dont want to get into morality) than another company making a transforming toy that looks like Optimus but isnt called that and is its own mold?

Keep in mind that Harmony gold DID sue Hasbro over their SDCC G.I.Joe Jetfire which settled out of court (which allowed for the set to be sold on HTS even though HG demanded they be turned over to them). Then shortly after that we got Leader Jetfire so I'm guessing this release had something to do with the settlement. You don't see any Harmony Gold trademarks on Jetfire's box so it's likely the settlement was in Hasbro's favor.

Emerje

So that means that the toy did not infringe on Harmony Gold's copyright, which may mean that a 3p item that looks like a known Hasbro character might not infringe on Hasbro's, right?

Probably not. Hasbro has an indisputable right to the likeness of their own, something a 3P would never have.

Oh, and I just refreshed myself on the case and I was mistaken about it being settled out of court (though the results appear to be basically the same). It was actually dismissed by the court "with prejudice", meaning Harmony Gold can't sue Hasbro again for it. I'm guessing Hasbro's lawyers were very convincing in their own rights to the likeness. That leaves Hasbro clear to make all the Jetfires they want without issue.

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