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Fox News Anchor Launches Lawsuit Over Hasbro Hamster

Harris Faulkner contends that her career is damaged by Littlest Pet Shop Toy

A $5 million dollar lawsuit was filed on September 1, 2015 in a United States District court in New Jersey by lawyers for the Emmy Award winning Fox News Anchor Harris Faulkner against toy company Hasbro, Inc. for the marketing of a toy with her namesake.

Court documents allege that Faulkner put Hasbro "on notice" in early 2015 for the use of her name on a Littlest Pet Shop character without her permission, but that Hasbro did not respond nor did the company stop marketing the big-eyed hamster who sports a butterfly on her head. In the suit, it is stated that the toy harms her "professional reputation".

Trademark Infringement, Personal Insult and a Choking Hazard

The 15-page suit, filed by Faulkner's Attorney Paul J. Halasz, states: "The packaging for the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll includes a “TM” symbol after Faulkner’s name which, according to the packaging’s language, 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."

The manufacturers of toys with small parts in the United States are compelled by law to state that they are a danger to infants and small children. Concerned that a toy which shares Faulkner's name could be construed as a celebrity endorsement for such a product, the lawsuit states, "The packaging also contains a warning that the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll is a 'CHOKING HAZARD'. By its unlawful actions, Hasbro has implied—falsely—Faulkner’s association with, approval, and endorsement of Hasbro and/or the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll...Through these actions, Hasbro has caused substantial commercial and emotional damage to Faulkner."

The lawsuit continues, "Hasbro's manufacture, sale, and distribution of the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll is extremely concerning and distressing to Faulkner...Further, Hasbro's portrayal of Faulkner as a rodent is demeaning and insulting."

Further, the lawyers state that there is clear physical resemblance between Harris and the hamster, stating similarities in the "tone of its complexion, the shape of its eyes, and the design of its eye makeup"

Halasz also states in the suit that the purpose of the filing is to recover damages, "for direct and contributory acts of unfair competition in contravention of § 43 of the Lanham Act and for violation of her right of publicity pursuant to New Jersey’s common law."

Pet Pawsabilities

Other toys in the Hasbro "Pet Pawsabilities" line of characters, to which the toy Harris Faulkner belongs, carry names such as: Dawn Ferris, Pepper Clark, Ripley Davis, and Sugar Sprinkles. Many of the characters in this line also appear in a Littlest Pet Shop animated television show for children, including Benson Detwiller, the animal packaged with the Harris Faulkner hamster toy. To date, neither of the Harris Faulkners have made an appearance in the cartoon.

While neither Faulkner nor Hasbro have yet addressed the media on this lawsuit directly as of this publication, the toy in question no longer is listed on Hasbro's website. It is still available through several online and brick and mortar retailers.


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