Toy News: Third Party Toy Ban Enforced at Botcon, No One Cares
If you read this blog, you’ll know that the Botcon FAQ removed the information about a ban on third party toys (which to be clear was stated as a ban on anything that infringes on Hasbro’s IP, which is an important distinction). I was speculating that the ban may have been lifted. I was apparently correct. When Botcon opened, the tables were full of 3rd party product.
But of course anytime Fun Pub or Hasbro does something right they have to come up with a way to screw it up. According to this post on TFW2005.com, on Saturday morning Brian Savage (referred to in this post henceforth as B.S.) announced that all 3rd Party toys were to be removed. Also according to the post, his declaration was completely ignored.
Now, we can speculate on the specifics, but we will likely never know for sure. I am pretty sure that some dealers would not bother go if they can’t sell 3rd party toys at this point. I’ve heard from reliable sources that the last two years when 3rd party toys were banned were bad shows for some dealers. Without dealers Fun Pub has no convention. B.S. knows that and would therefore have incentive to allow 3rd party toys no matter how he feels about them. So, was this whole ban all on Hasbro? Did they okay B.S. and Fun Pub lifting it? Is Hasbro so out of touch that they thought after a two year ban the tables wouldn’t be overflowing with 3rd party product? Was the announcement on Saturday meant to appease Hasbro? This is all just speculation, but for B.S. to lift the B.S. (that one isn’t referring to Brian Savage) ban and then attempt to enforce it again, I think it had to be due to an external source, a 3rd party, if you will. 🙂 That would have to be Hasbro. I have to put this one on them, as it’s the only thing that makes sense, though I would love for Hasbro or B.S. to clarify.
I’m not sure that Hasbro has the legal right to restrict the free trade of some companies’ products and not others. It would be one thing if they were only allowing the sale of Hasbro product, but I think what they are doing may fall under some kind of unfair business practice law. I’m not a lawyer, but I certainly doesn’t seem legal.
If Hasbro wants to get rid of third party products then sue the companies who make them and the retailers who sell them. Have a court declare these items in violation of IP. Until that happens, THERE ARE NO 3RD PARTY TOYS THAT VIOLATE HASBRO’S IP. That is not a statement that anyone can argue with (unless there has been a lawsuit I’m not aware of). Such illegal items do not exist at this time. An item does not violate IP simply because someone says it does. If sent a cease and desist order, a manufacturer could CHOOSE to acquiesce to demands, but that still doesn’t make the items illegal for another party, in this case dealers, to sell. Only a court can make that determination and make the items illegal to sell.
I assume that next year the ban will be in place from the outset. Hasbro clearly has their collective head up their collective ass over this if they can’t even be on the same page with Fun Pub and B.S.
I will be curious to see what that does to the dealer room next year. I think dealers should sell them anyway and if given a hard time just demand to see the court documentation declaring that each specific item is in violation of Hasbro’s IP. That’s what their own rules have said in the past. You can’t sell items in violation of Hasbro’s IP, and yet, there are none that are. I doubt any dealers will do that. Too much at stake for them to get to the con are run into hassles, they would be better off staying home or skipping buying a table altogether and sell them from a hotel room. I hope they all stay home and tell B.S. what to go do with himself.
Guess we can shelve this until next year.
Thanks for reading!