Innovation and inspiration are not quite twins, but they are very close cousins. By the same token, derivation and downright rip-off are also closely related. Lawyers get phat on the differences between these words and, right now, some of those lawyers belong to Acer, Foxconn, Kingston and Toys ‘R’ Us.
You may never have heard of Fuhu, but it was set up as a joint venture between Kingston, Foxconn and Acer in order to sell software, initially, but by 2011 the company was sure that creating a brand new tablet for Toys ‘R’ Us was the way forward.
The Nabi was born and big sales were predicted by all concerned for the highly affordable tablet with its distinctive shape and colouring.
Unfortunately, the deal came crashing down when Toys ‘R’ us only ordered 20,000 units and – despite selling through all of its stock – decided not to re-order. This decision surprised Foxconn, Kingston and Acer because they knew that the whole ‘cute tablets for kiddies’ was an amazing seller across the globe. The partnership with Toys ‘R’ Us came to an end near the start of 2012 and everyone thought it was going to be one of those things you ‘put down to bad experience’.
But Toys ‘R’ Us has not forgotten about it at all. Indeed, it had been working on creating the unusual tablet itself, with other partners, and by September 2012 it was ready to launch the Tabeo.
Claiming his product was highly innovative and a leader in the category, Fuhu founderRobb Rujioka has been quoted saying, “Cheap knock-offs will devalue our brand and the children’s tablet category as a whole”. Clearly he is not a happy bunny.
Judge for yourself is Fuhu was right to demand that (a) Toys ‘R’ us stop selling the Tabeo, (b) hand over all stock to Fuhu to prevent further sales and (c) pay damages.
KitGuru says: While we in the west joke that China’s approach to intellectual property is along the lines of “Copy is Right”, it’s hard to see how Toys ‘R’ Us thought they’d get away with this one. Good luck to them in fighting Fuhu.
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