A federal judge has ruled that Asus’ Transformer Prime tablet does not infringe on Hasbro’s Transformers trademark, in spite of the suit actually making sense. Just “Transformer”, or just “Prime”, might have flown right by Hasbro’s lawyers without a second look — those are words, after all — but putting the two together seemed like tempting fate. As expected, Hasbro took Asus to task in December.
But the judge has initially sided with Asus, saying that people were unlikely to confuse the tablet with Hasbro properties, noting they had also waited too long to file the suit.
As a little kicker on the story, court filings have revealed that the device has produced pre-order numbers that are, shall we say, less than legendary.
It’s not entirely fair, of course, to compare a fragmented and developing ecosystem like Android tablets to the world leader, the iPad. After all, you don’t look at a new local restaurant and say “yeah well, McDonald’s has served billions.” Selling at that volume is by far the exception, not the rule. At the same time, Asus is a big company with lots of ambition in the tablet and mobile computing space, so we can at least hold them to the standard of a large and established company.
So when court filings reveal that pre-orders for this poster child for Android 4 tablets (and it does look great) total a whopping 2,000 units as of a month ago, it’s kind of a letdown. That and 80,000 going to retailers worldwide make the device seem rather minor even in comparison to other Android products like the Nook Color and Kindle Fire. Is there a space for “premium” Android devices running just plain Android? The market seems smaller than big players like Asus would like to believe — or at least it is not growing as quickly as they expected.
As for the lawsuit: it’s not over, the judge has simply rejected Hasbro’s request to have sales of the Transformer Prime device halted. The case will continue to trial, and of course Hasbro has already vowed vengeance. They have a new series of toys related to the Transformers Prime TV show coming out this month, and don’t need any pesky tablets hogging the spotlight.