Toy News: Is the Botcon Third Party Toys Ban Lifted?
A friend of mine brought something interesting to my attention. As I have talked about before, for the past two year’s Hasbro and or Fun Publications (I suspect the latter for reasons I’ll explain below) has banned the sale of 3rd Party Transformers toys from Botcon. It seems that it MIGHT* no longer be true.
* – I’m stressing MIGHT. This is speculation and may be incorrect.
This still appears in the 2013 Botcon FAQ:
However, the 2014 Botcon FAQ makes no mention of any ban on 3rd party toys as of this posting. So, what does this mean? I have a few ideas.
1. They could just be assuming that because this appeared in last year’s FAQ, and since no one has asked the question this year, that it’s okay to omit it from this year’s FAQ while still keeping the ban in affect. They would just put the ban in the Dealer Registration contract. I wouldn’t put it past them to have done that, but I think that would be tantamount to fraud. Not that they care about such things. (“Well, we told you that you’d get two guns, but we never said you’d get one of each.”)
3. Under pressure from dealers threatening to not attend, they have relented. This one seems most likely, assuming the ban is in fact lifted. I have heard rumors of dealers doing very badly at Botcon the last couple of years due to being unable to sell 3rd party toys. At the end of the day, if they don’t have any of the big dealers, they don’t have a convention.
3. Hasbro and or Fun Pub realized they were being asshats and are quietly changing the rule while trying not to admit that they’ve been asshats. If they haven’t realized it before now, I find it hard to believe they ever will. However, when TFCon opted for their 3rd party toy in 2012 (that was also making fun of the whole Erector business) rather than a Hasbro panel, it could have been a wake up call, but I doubt it.
My reason for thinking this ban was Fun Pub’s idea that Hasbro supported rather than a decree from Hasbro is the text from the 2013 FAQ. Hasbro must go to court and win a case finding that an item is in violation of their intellectual property. To my knowledge this has never happened, hence under the rule set forth in the 2013 FAQ there are NO ITEMS that should have been banned, making Fun Pub’s enforcement of a ban on any items (which they did) in violation of their own rules. We can rehash the reasons why Hasbro hasn’t and probably won’t sue any 3rd party manufacturers, but it really doesn’t matter. The fact is they haven’t. I find it unlikely that Hasbro’s legal department would allow them to make a statement that is completely unenforceable. If it was all Fun Pub’s idea I could see them doing something so nonsensical. I could very well be wrong. Maybe it was Hasbro and they just didn’t bother to see how the ban was being explained and enforced by Fun Pub. A company can’t just say that something violates their IP. Only a court can decide that. Can you imagine the chaos if a company could just declare items illegal without a court decision?
I really think that someone who is attending the convention should ask this question and get an answer into the FAQ one way or another. I really don’t know whether the ban is lifted or not, but I’m really curious to find out.
Thanks for reading!