SAN FRANCISCO—Hong Kong’s Silverlit Toys Manufactory Ltd. and Spin Master Ltd., Silverlit’s North American distributor, have filed a lawsuit against online retailer Hobbytron.com for allegedly knowingly importing and distributing what they say is a counterfeit version of Silverlit’s PicooZ remote-control helicopter.
playthings.com/articles/images/PLAY/20070110/SpinMasterHavocHeliCrop2.jpg width=288 align=right vspace=10 >The complaint against Hobbytron.com accuses the company of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin charges. Spin Master and Silverlit are seeking a preliminary injunction against the company.
Hobbytron.com is the operating name of Absolute Toy Marketing Inc. of Orem, Utah. Absolute’s senior management were on a sourcing trip aboard and not available to comment for this story according to spokesperson David Politis. To the best of his knowledge, executives from the company have not seen the lawsuit, Politis told Playthings
Hobbytron previously purchased authentic Silverlit toy helicopters, according to Silverlit, yet Silverlit claims Hobbytron.com also “knowingly carried counterfeit products—confusingly identified as PicooZ—that also infringed on Silverlit’s packaging and instruction manual.”
At this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Hobbytron unveiled its own branded micro R/C helicopter, dubbed Picco 3. The retailer currently offers a micro R/C helicopter on its site called the Picco Z.
Silverlit’s PicooZ helicopter is the smallest R/C model helicopter in the world according to a recent certification by Guinness World Records. According to Silverlit, the toy’s development necessitated “breakthroughs in aerodynamics, hardware and programming, including elements such as the density of the foam fuselage material, advanced Li-Po batteries and protective hardware to avert any possibility of overheating.”
“It is highly unlikely that counterfeiters are concerned about these protective measures, so consumers may unwittingly have bought unauthorized knock-offs that pose fire and safety hazards to children,” said Eddie Wong, Silverlit’s director of marketing and sales.
Silverlit says that shortly after Christmas the company began receiving complaints from U.S. consumers about PicooZ helicopters overheating. Those toys turned out to be counterfeit versions of the product, according to Silverlit.
Earlier in the holiday season, the company began a campaign to notify consumers and the trade of knock-off versions of PicooZ helicopters being manufactured in China. Chinese customs officials subsequently raided manufacturing plants in six cities, seizing more than 1,000 toys, according to Silverlit.
In response to the situation, Spin Master has begun selling Silverlit’s PicooZ helicopter under a new brand name, Havoc Heli, a move intended to help avoid confusion in the marketplace between Silverlit’s toy and alleged counterfeits with the same or similar names.