Toys ‘R’ Us, Not Them, Famed Brand Says in Suit Alleging Rip-Off
(Bloomberg) -- Shoppers at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey, might feel a touch of déjà vu on entering a store called Toys & Beyond.
The signs have a bubble font with different-colored letters. A cash register display says “Let’s Play.” On the stairwell of an indoor treehouse are sentiments such as “I don’t want to grow up.”
All those features belong to Tru Kids Inc., which acquired the intellectual property of the once-mighty Toys “R” Us brand during its 2018 liquidation, according to a lawsuit it filed last week in federal court in Newark. In the complaint, Tru Kids says Toys & Beyond “is now operating retail toy stores in identical locations at identical malls” where Toys “R” Us and its iconic giraffe once greeted customers.
Toys & Beyond wants to “confuse the average toy consumer,” says Tru Kids, which calls the storefront “a blatant and obvious bad-faith effort to trade on the significant goodwill and fame that Toys ‘R’ Us has developed over decades and with tens of millions of dollars” of investment. WHP Global in March announced it would take a controlling stake in Tru Kids, which was started by a former Toys “R” Us executive to revive the brand and has been owned by investment funds including Solus Alternative Asset Management.
Among the panoply of bald rip-offs Tru Kids alleges, “Let’s Play” was pulled straight from the Toys “R” Us registered C’mon, Let’s Play mark, it claims. It also accuses Toys & Beyond of violating its trademarks for Geoffrey’s Tree House, Geoffrey’s Magical Mirror, Play-a-Round Theater and the familiar jingle “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.”
Tru Kids accuses the company of infringing and diluting its trademarks and engaging in unfair competition. It’s seeking a court order forcing Toys & Beyond to hand over all profits made during the period of alleged infringement, along with a royalty. It wants compensatory damages as well, and court orders blocking further unauthorized use of the Toys “R” Us name, logo, brand and marks.
In other words, hands off the giraffe.
Efforts to seek comment on the suit from Toys & Beyond were unsuccessful. Neither the Paramus mall nor a mall in West Nyack, New York -- where the company runs a shop in the space of a former Toys “R” Us, according to the lawsuit -- has a phone number listed for the store. An Instagram message to the company wasn’t immediately returned. Real Investment LLC, the closely held firm doing business as Toys & Beyond that is named as the defendant in the lawsuit, couldn’t be located.
The suit is an odd mix of jolly color photos of the defendant’s bubbly retail displays and grim legal language enumerating the alleged offenses. In it, Tru Kids says it fired off a cease-and-desist letter on July 2 that Toys & Beyond ignored, prompting a follow-up call from its lawyer.
“The Toys & Beyond representative just hung up on the Toys ‘R’ Us attorney,” according to the suit.
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