A Fox News anchorwoman is suing Hasbro Toys for more than $5 million alleging that the company’s plastic “Harris Faulkner” hamster, sold as part of the popular “Littlest Pet Shop” line, shares her name and resemblance. The company’s portrayal of anchorwoman Harris Faulkner “as a rodent is demeaning and insulting,” states the lawsuit, filed earlier this week in a U.S. District Court. The rodent’s name wrongfully appropriates Ms. Faulkner’s name, which is an insult and impairs her professional credibility as a journalist, claims the suit. The physical resemblance allegedly shared by the plastic rodent and anchorwoman includes professional appearance, complexion, eye shape, and eye makeup design. Ms. Faulkner is also “emotionally distressed” and “insulted” by being associated with a rodent chocking hazard, as the toy packaging warns of the hazard for “young children.”
Ms. Faulkner has been a Fox News anchor for 10 years, and hosts the daytime show “Outnumbered” and anchors the weekly “Fox Report Weekend” show. Rodent Faulkner has been on toy shelves since 2014, and is sold as part of a package with another rodent, a hamster named “Benson Detwyler” (no word yet on whether any people named Benson Detwyler are consulting their own attorneys on the matter). The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages, attorney fees and any profits the company made off the toy rodent.
How do we hash this one out?
Let’s consider the name first. There seems to be little doubt that the anchorwoman and rodent share the same name, and that the anchorwoman was named first. However, the anchorwoman’s full name is Harris Kimberly Faulkner. There’s no “Kimberly” in the rodent’s name, which certainly could be said to distinguish the two. The lawsuit also states that Hasbro “willfully” appropriated Ms. Faulkner’s name, which begs the question of how she might have come to that conclusion. Does she have the minutes from a Hasbro strategy session in which an employee suggests using that anchorwoman’s name for their new rodent toy?
And what of the name “Harris Faulkner,” does this lawsuit suggest that Ms. Faulkner plans to sue anyone who “appropriates” her name? Is the theoretical 15-year-old Harris Faulkner of Charlotte, NC in danger of being sued in 10 years when she starts making money as a writer for Cuddly Toy magazine. Or let’s say a porn star “appropriates” the name?–we suppose that there’s little doubt that this would lead to litigation from Anchorwoman Faulkner.
But what gives her the sole right to the use of the name? Her fame? Has she Trademarked it or something? Ms. Faulkner’s lawsuit does not make any claim to the Trademark of her name, but does assert that Hasbro has falsely claimed the Trademark for the rodent. Thus if neither party in the suit has legal title to the name, is the issue even open to consideration from the court?
Professional appearance? Frankly, we just don’t think the rodent looks all that professional. Sure the rodent’s hair is nicely coiffed, but what’s with that giant butterfly hair piece (or perhaps more importantly, does the anchorwoman sport one of those, too)?
Complexion? If the anchorwoman has a two-toned face, we’re just not seeing it. For that matter, we’re not finding much of a match at all between the rodent’s skin and the anchorwoman’s.
Eye shape and eye makeup design? Not seeing that either. The rodent’s eyes are round and so bugged out that they take up more than 60 percent of her face, while Ms. Faulkner seems to have normal eyes appropriate for her face. As for the makeup, well, sure, the mascara is perhaps a bit similar, but there’s a noticeable lack of any underlining on the rodent’s eyes. And while not mentioned in the suit, the rodent’s eyes have a nice shade of blue, but we don’t see a hint of blue in Ms. Faulkner’s eyes.
Finally, what of the poor rodent? Perhaps Harris the Hamster should consider a countersuit. Say along the lines of defamation of character and slander?