September 25, 2012
Toys R Us Sued, Accused Of Ripping Off Tablet Design
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Earlier this month, popular toy store chain Toys R Us announced their very own child-focused tablet called the Tabeo. This new tablet replaces their older offering, Nabi, and comes packed with its own set of 50 pre-installed apps geared towards children.
Though the tablet is set to be released in late October, the Nabi tablet´s maker, Fuhu, is claiming Toys R Us pulled a 'Samsung to their Apple', copying their design and lifting key user-experience elements. The toy company once had exclusive rights to sell Fuhu´s tablet computer, but this contract has since been terminated. Now, according to a Reuters report, Fuhu is saying Toys R Us stole trade secrets during this time and is now applying them to the Tabeo tablet.
Fuhu filed its lawsuit in a San Diego federal court this week and aims to keep Toys R Us from selling the new tablet this holiday season.
"We shared with them the whole ecosystem of the Nabi tablet," claims Jim Mitchell, Fuhu´s chief executive, speaking to the Los Angeles Times.
For instance, Mitchell claims Toys R Us took specific parts of the Fuhu design, such as a rubberized border–or bumper– around the device to make the tablet “kid proof,” as well as deeply integrating parental controls and pre-installing the device with plenty of kid-themed apps.
The fact that the new Toys R Us Tabeo carries each of these elements, says Mitchell, is proof that the toy store chain signed an exclusive contract to sell last year´s Fuhu Nabi in order to gain access to trade secrets. Mitchell also claims Toys R Us didn´t follow through with their original agreements to advertise the tablets and ordered far fewer tablets than originally promised. Furthermore, Fuhu contends that Toys R Us backed out of their contract prematurely.
When asked by the LA Times for a comment, a Toys R Us spokesperson declined, saying only, "We have not had the opportunity to review the filing you reference.”
"We created a highly innovative product," said Fuhu´s co-founder Robb Rujioka, speaking to the BBC.
"Cheap knock-offs will devalue our brand and the children's tablet category as a whole."
This year´s holiday season looks to be dominated by these sort of kid-friendly and kid-themed tablets, including offerings from competitors LeapPad (LeapPad Explorer Tablet) and VVtech (VTech Innotab).
Amazon, last month, announced new updates to their existing tablets that have often been seen as kid-friendly. Rather than being built specifically for kids, the new Amazon Fire Tablets also offer parental controls as well as an easy-to-hold 7-inch multi-touch display and can be loaded up with apps, books and movies of their parents´ choosing.
The newly announced Tabeo in question features a large, easily gripped, butterfly style bumper on the outside edges of the device. On the inside, the new tablet is well equipped with a 1GHz processor, 4GB of built-in storage and is upgradeable to 32GB. The Tabeo also runs its own app store, allowing parents to load extra apps in addition to the 50 pre-installed apps. Pending the lawsuit, the Tabeo will be available at Toys R Us stores nationwide in late October for $150