harris faulkner

Fox News presenter sues toy-maker for $5 million for hamster she says looks like her

The company has responded: “Ms. Faulkner is an adult, African-American, human, female newscaster; the Hamster Toy is an inch-tall, cartoon-like plastic animal.”

harrisfaulknersplit Harris Faulkner: in hamster form (L) and in human form (R). Court records / PA Images Court records / PA Images / PA Images

A US TOY company has asked a judge to throw out a $5 million lawsuit filed by a Fox News presenter who says a toy hamster shares her name and resembles her a little bit too closely.

Harris Faulkner sued Hasbro, Inc in August over a plastic hamster sold as part of its popular “Littlest Pet Shop” line.

The hamster’s name? Harris Faulkner.

She says the toy wrongfully appropriates her name and persona, harms her professional credibility as a journalist and is an insult. She is seeking $5 million in damages.

In her complaint, Faulkner argues:

Hasbro’s manufacture, sale, and distribution of the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll
is extremely concerning and distressing to Faulkner.
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.

TV Fox Faulkner Harris Faulkner, the Fox News presenter. Associated Press Associated Press

The veteran TV journalist claims she has been caused particular “distress” by the fact that:

…Her name has been wrongly associated with a plastic toy that is a known choking hazard that risks harming small children.Further, Hasbro’s portrayal of Faulkner as a rodent is demeaning and insulting.

The Emmy Award-winning news anchor is also claiming damage to her personal and professional reputation from the suggestion that she endorsed or gave her permission for the production of the hamster.

However, the Rhode Island-based toy manufacturer has hit back, and in a filing to court in Newark, New Jersey this week, asked a federal judge to dismiss the case.

Not only do the miniature plastic hamster toy and the human Ms. Faulkner bear no physical resemblance…but the two exist in such polar opposite contexts that there is no basis to find that Hasbro misappropriated Ms. Faulkner’s unique identity.

The motion goes on to argue that “name-sameness is not enough to state a claim for a violation of one’s right of publicity.”

faulknertoy The Harris Faulkner toy, in his packaging. Court records Court records

In what must be one of the most unusual passages of legal argument to come before the US District Court in Newark, New Jersey, Hasbro’s lawyers break down the TV personality’s claims, one by one.

First, Ms. Faulkner is an adult, African-American, human, female newscaster; the Hamster Toy is an inch-tall, cartoon-like plastic animal, which has no apparent gender or profession, or even clothing that might identify its gender or profession.
Second, contrary to Plaintiff’s allegation, the Hamster Toy does not have the same “complexion” as Ms. Faulkner.
The animal depicted by the Hamster Toy has “fur” (not skin), which is golden yellow, a wisp of “hair” that is medium-brown, a pink nose, and a muzzle that is white.
Third, despite Plaintiff’s claim, neither the “shape” of the Hamster Toy’s eyes, nor the “design of its eye makeup” misappropriate Ms. Faulkner’s likeness.
Ms. Faulkner has brown, almond-shaped eyes; the Hamster Toy has large, circular blue eyes.

The Harris Faulkner toy was introduced in 2014, according to the lawsuit, and was sold in a package as the pet hamster of a terrier named Benson Detwyler.

Other toys in the popular line include animals named Pancakes Watkins, Puffball Petrovsky and Pepper Clark.

Faulkner hosts the daytime show “Outnumbered” and anchors a Sunday evening newscast for Fox News.

To read Harris Faulkner’s complaint against Hasbro, click here.
To read Hasbro’s motion to dismiss the case, click here.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

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