A Los Angeles maker of kid-oriented products is suing Toys R Us Inc. for allegedly ripping off its business plan to sell a tablet computer geared for children.
In a suit filed in federal court in San Diego, Fuhu Inc. accuses the toy giant of stealing trade secrets and trademark information to launch its own $150 tablet called Tabeo, which will hit store shelves next month.
Last holiday season, Fuhu sold a similar tablet called Nabi exclusively through Toys R Us before terminating the agreement in January. The company alleges that Toys R Us did not follow through with promises to advertise and order the Nabi in sizable quantities, but then used its strategy for its own Tabeo tablet.
“We shared with them the whole ecosystem of the Navi tablet,” Fuhu Chief Executive Jim Mitchell said. He said some of the strategic tactics that was shared with Toys R Us included putting a rubberized border -- called a bumper -- around the device, working in parental controls and pre-loading the tablet with apps.
Mitchell pointed to tabeo’s green bumper and pre-loaded apps as evidence proving that Toys R Us ripped off Fuhu’s plans. The Los Angeles company earlier this summer launched Nabi 2, a second-generation version of its tablet that will compete with the Tabeo this holiday season.
Toys R Us spokeswoman Jennifer Albano declined to comment. “We have not had the opportunity to review the filing you reference,” she said.
The lawsuit is just one more lawsuit raging in the highly competitive tech industry as players try to one-up each other not only in innovation but also in court -- by frequently accusing rivals of stealing intellectual property.
Ronald Katz, a lawyer representing Fuhu, said the company is seeking a preliminary injunction against Toy R Us to stop the toy giant from selling its tablet.
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