Almost two months after Fox News Channel anchor Harris Faulkner went after the toy giant for a hamster that shares her name and, she says, her look, Hasbro has stopped playing games. In paperwork filed in federal court Monday, the company wants the multiple Emmy winner’s multimillion-dollar lawsuit dismissed – at least partially.
“Because name-sameness is not enough to state a claim for a violation of one’s right of publicity under well-established law, and because Ms. Faulkner’s attempt to claim that the hamster toy misappropriates her likeness is implausible on its face, Ms. Faulkner’s Third Cause of Action alleging a violation of her right of publicity fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted and should be dismissed with prejudice,” say lawyers for Hasbro in a filing October 26 (read it here).
“A side-by-side comparison of Ms. Faulkner and the Hamster Toy shows that the two bear absolutely no resemblance,” adds the memorandum accompanying Hasbro’s motion. The toy company has requested a December 21 hearing for oral arguments on its motion. With all the graphics of both their toy and the real-life Faulkner in their motion, want to be bet they bring a Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll with them?
Back on August 31, the Outnumbered co-host and self-proclaimed “uniquely named, acclaimed veteran journalist and author” filed her $5 million complaint against the world’s third-biggest toy manufacturer. Faulkner’s attorneys made claims under trademark law for false endorsement and unfair competition as well as well as the violation of her right of publicity that Hasbro is seeking to dismiss.
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“In addition to its prominent and unauthorized use of Faulkner’s name, 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,” said Faulkner’s complaint filed in New Jersey.
As well as going after the company for the $5 million, the FNC journo sought a full accounting of how much money Hasbro had made off the hamster and wanted sales of it to cease. She also expressed concern that the toy could be a “choking hazard” for children and that consumers could be confused to think that she was endorsing the product – something she is seemingly not able to do under her contract with the Roger Ailes-run cable news network.
In fact, Faulkner’s complaint said she had reached out to Hasbro earlier this year about their Harris Faulkner but had received nothing but silence in return and the tiny toy was still for sale. Well, Hasbro was very vocal this week in their own filing that its Harris Faulkner is nothing like FNC’s Harris Faulkner.
“Indeed, the human Harris Faulkner is a journalist, author, and Fox News anchor; the fictional Harris Faulkner is a cartoon-like toy animal who resides in the Littlest Pet Shop world designed for young children,” the response from attorneys at NYC firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC states. “The Hamster Toy does not have an identifiable gender, does not have a profession and does not have any biographical or contextual attributes that make reference to Ms. Faulkner’s public persona.”
In case that wasn’t a 1000% clear to you, they add. “In fact, the fictional Hamster Toy is about the furthest thing from Ms. Faulkner or her persona.”
Let’s see what the Fox News journalist says in her response. Either way, playtime is over.
Paul Halasz and Dennis LaFiura of Day Pitney LLP of Parsippany in New Jersey and Dori Ann Hanswirth, Theresa House and Patsy Wilson of NYC’s Hogan Lovells US LLP are representing Faulkner in the case.
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