Finally, we can all rest easy knowing that two giant companies have apparently agreed that it’s okay for both of them to sell toys of characters named Bumblebee. That comes from Variety, which says Hasbro and DC Comics have settled the lawsuit that Hasbro filed last year over a DC Super Hero Girls doll called Bumblebee (she dresses like a bee and can shrink). Hasbro was apparently concerned that consumers would confuse this girl doll for its famous Transformers toy that is also called Bumblebee (he’s yellow and sometimes turns into a Volkswagen Beetle, which is referred to as a “Bug,” and a bumblebee is a kind of a bug).
The terms of the settlement haven’t been released, so we don’t know what’s going to happen with either character, but both sides have a solid argument for holding onto the name. DC’s Bumblebee predates the robot by about six years, with the character making her first appearance in a Teen Titans comic in the ‘70s. Hasbro, meanwhile, has the Bumblebee movie coming out in December, and there are already a bunch of classic Transformers characters with names that Hasbro has been unable to trademark.
That’s why—if you’re a cool person who shops for Transformers—you’ll see some characters with names like Autobot Jazz (instead of just Jazz) alongside the more unique and trademarkable names like Optimus Prime. Hasbro can’t own the name Jazz, as it’s too generic, and it never secured trademarks on a lot of the original Transformers character names because it had no idea people would still be buying toys of Jazz 30 years later. With a Bumblebee-centric toy line on the way, it would’ve been wildly expensive for Hasbro to have to go back and put “Autobot Bumblebee” on all the boxes.
(There’s a fun article about trademarks on the Transformers wiki if you’re totally fascinated by all of this, which you obviously are if you’re still here!)