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Patent lawsuit centered around kids' fad

Massachusetts readers may be interested to know about a man who claims to have created a plastic C-fastener that allows pre-teen girls to join bracelets they weave out of rubber bands has filed lawsuits against another manufacturer and Toys "R" Us Inc. claiming an intellectual property dispute. The man claims his company, Rainbow Loom, has sold 1.2 million kits and that he created the market for crafting the bracelets with rubber bands.

The owner of the rival company says that there's nothing unique about looms or rubber bands. He also counters that the C-fastener in the kit his company manufacturers is superior because it is bigger and can hold together more of the bracelets. He also states that his kit lacks the sharp edges of the Rainbow Loom and has an extra row of pins on the loom used to weave the rubber bands together. Toys "R" Us has refused to comment on the pending litigation.

Patent lawsuits in the United States have jumped 20 percent since 2011 and many of them are against what are commonly called knockoff products. One intellectual property lawyer has stated that inventors of fad products that are easy to copy have to be particularly vigilant in creating and monitoring an enforcement program.

In the age of computers, 3D printers and rapid manufacturing, it's important to maintain control over a company's products. If a company owner feels another company is stealing its design, it might be time to ask a business and commercial attorney with experience in intellectual property and litigation matters to review the case. An attorney with such experience may be able to stop the other company from making knock-off products and may be able to recover monetary damages on behalf of the original product creator if appropriate.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Patent fight erupts over kids' fad", Sarah E. Needleman and Adam Janofsky, September 11, 2013

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