Written by Lucy Hooker
Business correspondent, BBC News
Fur may be about to fly as two hugely popular luxury toy makers fight over a copyright issue.
Squishmallows is a new toy made by Build-A-Bear Workshop that closely resembles its egg-shaped pillow animal characters, Skoosherz says.
Despite the grainy nature of the topic, it will be a more difficult legal battle than a pillow fight.
Jazwares, the maker of the Squishmallow toy, has launched an intellectual property lawsuit in California.
But Build-A-Bear Workshop has launched its own lawsuit in response in Missouri, aiming to prove that Skoosherz, another cuddly dinner plate-sized toy, is simply its own version of a type of toy that has become popular in recent years.
However, Jazwares says the Skozherz toys are “imitations” of the Squishmallow toys it has sold since 2017, noting that they are also “fancy figures” of the animals, with “simplified Kawaii Asian-style faces”, and “resemble plush plush”. fabric.
Kawaii is a reference to Japanese cuteness culture.
“Build-A-Bear has gone to great lengths to copy the distinct look, feel and tactile design of Squishmallows to blatantly and intentionally capitalize on the global success of Squishmallow,” Gazoares told the BBC in an email.
There was originally a small group of Squishmallows, including a fox, a cat, and a frog. They have become increasingly popular during the pandemic as people have been treating themselves to cozy items for their homes.
Squishmallow has also gone viral on TikTok, with the help of celebrities including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. There are now more than 1,000 different versions of it.
In 2022, the investment company of US billionaire Warren Buffett bought the parent company of Jazwares Alleghany.
The popularity of this type of squishy plush toy has continued, with several versions widely available, and Jazwares has already filed a case against Chinese online retailer Alibaba for allegedly selling counterfeit toys.
“When it comes to intellectual property rights, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery,” Moez Kaba, Gazoaris’s lawyer, said in a statement.
Build-A-Bear, which launched the Skoosherz range to capitalize on the soft toys' popularity in the run-up to Valentine's Day, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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