We can see the headlines now… “Boo Humbug!!”
Aurora World, Inc., one of the world’s leading plush toy and gift manufacturers, today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Ty, Inc. for copyright infringement and four other violations in regards to Aurora’s best selling plush line, YooHoo & Friends™. In the lawsuit, Aurora alleges that Ty’s Beanie Boos™ plush line infringes on YooHoo & Friends™. The lawsuit also alleges claims against Ty based on violations of the Lanham Act and California Business and Professions Code, as well as common law misappropriation and unfair competition.
Aurora’s law firm, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to be heard on December 14th in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. A jury trial has been demanded.
Aurora’s YooHoo & Friends™ were created and based from endangered animals to help educate children and collectors about endangered species and their natural habitats. Aurora officially introduced the fluffy, big-eyed and whimsical plush animals in the United States around July of 2006. Since then, the line has expanded to include various sizes and themes, with more than 50 SKUs available at retail heading into 2010.
Aurora’s papers in support of its motion for a preliminary injunction include images comparing certain YooHoo & Friends™ characters with Beanie Boos™ characters and argue that the Beanie Boos™ are strikingly similar imitations of the YooHoo & Friends™ characters (see image).
Based on these similarities, Aurora contends that “Ty’s unlawful imitations of the YooHoo & Friends products and blatant infringement are damaging Aurora, not only by causing actual confusion and likelihood of confusion in the marketplace…but also by diminishing the value of the YooHoo & Friends products by diluting their distinct and unique nature and erroneously associating them with Ty rather than Aurora.”
Aurora created what is now one of the nation’s best selling plush lines – YooHoo & Friends™ – and its corresponding free, interactive web site (www.yoohoofriends.com), appealing to young children and tweens alike.
Check back for updates on what could be one of the biggest lawsuits in toy industry history.