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M&A & Legal

Illumination America completes its acquisition of Grom Holdings, which will now operate as Grom Social Enterprises and be comprised of four wholly owned subsidiaries: Grom Social, TD Holdings Ltd., Grom Educational Services, and Grom Nutritional Services. Grom Social will continue to operate as a social media network for children; it counts over 5 million total users in 200 countries.

ASIA–G-III Apparel Group partners with Amlon Capital, Fred Gehring’s investment fund, to form a joint venture. The business will manufacture women’s and men’s apparel and accessories for the DKNY and Donna Karan brands in China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The venture will be funded with $25 million of equity and G-III will own 49%, with Amlon retaining the remaining shares. Beginning in January, the joint venture will also serve as the exclusive seller of both brands in China, Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Mattel is expanding its relationship with Fullscreen to create Fullscreen Family, a new initiative which will feature a massive family-focused collection of brand-safe channels for third-party advertisers on YouTube and other digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Through its increased digital ad spend, Mattel hopes to increase the amount of premium kids and family content by 61%, and reach an estimated 800 million monthly video viewers. The program kicks off with the Hot Wheels Digital Content Innovation Team, which will tap Fullscreen’s top creators to make content for the boy-skewing brand’s online fans. Mattel also continues to partner with Tongal to create content.

Spin Master expands its strategic partnership with Alibaba and its Tmall Group to bring core brands Hatchimals, Paw Patrol, Bunchems, and Sew Cool to China.

Crowdspring is also growing with Alibaba to provide Chinese sellers with creative services (from logos to product and packaging design to web design).

Legal Updates

Hasbro and DC Comics are facing off in federal court over the right to market Bumblebee-branded toys. Hasbro alleges that Warner Bros.’ DC Bumblebee could be confused with its Autobot Bumblebee from the Transformers universe. The toyco is seeking to block sales of an action figure from Mattel (part of the DC Super Hero Girls line) and a construction toy set from LEGO. Hasbro began selling Bumblebee toys in 1983 and building-block sets in 2011. In contrast, DC Comics and Warner Bros. first announced the DC Super Hero Girls franchise in April 2015 in partnership with Mattel. Hasbro had filed for a trademark on the “Bumblebee” name on July 15, 2015, and the trademark was registered on Dec. 22, 2015.

Meanwhile, a trial date is set in the fight over who owns the rights to Buck Rogers. On one side are the descendants of author Philip Francis Nowlan, who created the fictional space explorer in the 1920s. They face off descendants of John Flint Dille, whose newspaper company once syndicated a Buck Rogers comic strip. Although the Dilles family had held registrations in the 1980s, because those are no longer valid, both sides must establish priority of use in the mark in in a way sufficiently identifiable in the minds of the public. It is also possible that the Dilles had abandoned the mark at some point. Rather than consumer products licensing, what is truly at stake are the media rights. NBCUniversal currently has a script adapted from Nowlan’s work, Armageddon 2419 A.D.


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