Over a year after the Fox News Channel host took the toy giant to court for $5 million over a hamster that shared her name and supposedly her look, Harris Faulkner and Hasbro have decided to play nice.
“Harris Faulkner and Hasbro are pleased to report that the lawsuit filed by Ms. Faulkner last year has been settled amicably,” said the parties today in a joint statement. “Ms. Faulkner took action against Hasbro because it was selling a child’s toy – a plastic toy named Harris Faulkner,” they add. “The ‘Harris Faulkner’ toy is no longer manufactured or sold by Hasbro. However, since there still may be ‘Harris Faulkner’ toys or packaging with the ‘Harris Faulkner’ name in the stream of commerce, Ms. Faulkner reiterates that she has not endorsed or approved this product. The parties will not comment further on the litigation or its settlement.”
Today lawyers also filed paperwork in federal court citing that “Plaintiff Harris Faulkner’s complaint …is voluntarily dismissed, with prejudice” (read it here). Like the joint statement, the proposed order offers no details of what the settlement between Faulkner and Hasbro entails. However, sources tell me that the FNC host did receive some financial compensation in the end and saw the toy hamster taken off the market.
In her initial August 31, 2015 complaint, Faulkner sought not just money, but a full accounting of how much cash Hasbro had actually made off the hamster and wanted sales of it to stop – so looks like a win there for her. As well as being worried the Harris Faulkner toy could be a “chocking hazard,” the real Faulkner also wanted any confusion that she was endorsing the toy cleared up as that ran counter to her FNC contract.
Today’s announcement comes after Hasbro failed in an effort earlier this summer to get the Outnumbered co-host’s case partially tossed out – a failure that made a trial look very likely.
“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,” attorneys for the toy giant had argued in an October 26 filing last year, insisting the toy never had anything to do with the real-life self proclaimed “uniquely named, acclaimed veteran journalist and author.”
“In fact, the fictional Hamster Toy is about the furthest thing from Ms. Faulkner or her persona,” Hasbro’s lawyers added.
Faulkner was represented in the matter by 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. Hasbro was repped by attorneys from Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC in NYC.