Remember that lawsuit from Hasbro complaining about Asus naming its new Android tablet the “Transformer Prime,” out of concern that consumers might confuse it with Hasbro’s popular transforming robot toy line? It’s still going to trial, but a judge has expressed sufficient skepticism over Hasbro’s claims to deny the company’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have stopped Asus from continuing to sell its tablets pending the outcome of the trial.

The judge didn’t find sufficient resemblance between the Android tablet and Hasbro’s toys to warrant worries over consumer confusion, and noted Asus’s case is strengthened by the fact that the tablet actually does “transform” between a tablet and a laptop when connected to its keyboard dock. He also had some harsh words for Hasbro knowing about the device’s existence for a whole year before it bothered to file a lawsuit, since it would cost Asus a lot to recall items already in circulation.

Of course, this only means that Asus gets to continue to sell the tablet going forward. It doesn’t mean Asus is out of the legal woods, because the case still has to go to trial.

Ultimately, a jury will have to figure out whether the "Transformers" mark is a famous household name that causes confusion and is a mark that is under threat by the appearance of a consumer tech device. And a jury will have to weigh Asus’ ability to use a word found in the dictionary to descriptively label its high-end tablet/laptop hybrid computer.

One of my on-line friends has just received a Transformer Prime, and is very happy with it. That being said, Asus has only had orders for about 80,000 of the devices—a couple of orders of magnitude less than other leading tablet devices like the iPad or the Kindle Fire. From that viewpoint, perhaps the added publicity of the trial might actually help Asus’s sales numbers?


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