Judge allows Angry Birds lawsuit to continue; artist claims she was cheated out of millions

Judge allows Angry Birds lawsuit to continue; artist claims she was cheated out of millions
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik rejected a motion by the Hartz Mountain Corporation seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by artist Juli Adams. Adams claims that she lost out on millions of dollars from sales of plush pet toys that she designed and named "Angry Birds". It all began back in the summer of 2006 when Hartz asked Adams to design a line of plush pet toys. By that November, both sides had worked out a five-year agreement.

So far, so good. But when the Angry Birds mobile game started to take off in 2009, Hartz and Rovio signed a deal for Hartz to start selling a line of pet toys based on the characters from the red hot mobile game. While technically the deal between Hartz and Adams prevented Rovio from selling these plush pet toys, Adams says that Hartz sold her intellectual property to Rovio behind her back. As Adams' attorney Tom Loeser explains, "When Angry Birds the video game came along, they dumped Juli Adams' line, started selling the Rovio stuff instead, and cut her out completely."

But Hartz denies that this scenario took place. In asking for the case to be dismissed, Hartz said that its deal with Adams "does not even mention the trademark ANGRY BIRDS, and does not contain the necessary quality control provisions. Hartz owes no duty of exclusivity to (Adams) under the Agreement."

Adams is not claiming that she designed the Angry Birds video game, which has been downloaded over 2 billion times. She is claiming that there are similarities with her own Angry Birds line of pet toys, and the design of the video game characters. These similarities can be seen in the colors and eye shape of the characters, and in the "Angry Birds" logo font. She claims to have come up with the name "Angry Birds" based on an idea that the toy would not be happy about being attacked by the family cat.

While Hartz says that it owned the Angry Birds trademark, the judge said that Adams has made a plausible case that she retained the intellectual property rights to the Angry Birds trademark. Thus, Hartz request to dismiss the case has been rejected by the court. The trial should be very interesting.

source: ABC via Reuters

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20 Comments

1. TheOldOne

Posts: 196; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

actually, the trial should be very simple and end up with an agreement between parties... unless someone is really greedy, case in which we should all grab some popcorn.

2. hafini_27

Posts: 948; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

Hey, that actually makes sense.

3. tigermcm

Posts: 861; Member since: Sep 02, 2009

ouch im on her side.......can i get 1% of that boat load of cash you'll be receiving ma'am?

4. Bertelgeus

Posts: 126; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

She gonna get rich!

5. SuperAndroid507

Posts: 361; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

Interesting, even if they settle out ouf court, she will get a lot of Franklin's to rock the party!

6. palmguy

Posts: 978; Member since: Mar 22, 2011

She's angry.

17. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

But...is she a bird as well? O_o

7. hortizano

Posts: 294; Member since: May 22, 2013

So I have a family cat. And he keeps attacking the family bird. And the bird looks angry to me. Should a file a lawsuit too? Greedy people. That's why humanity does not advance.. everybody is jealous of anybody's success...

8. evarod48

Posts: 154; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

but it will advance on people criticizing others on a message board...

9. hortizano

Posts: 294; Member since: May 22, 2013

Got me. =(

10. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

This one actually sounds like a legitimate case. She entered into an agreement with a company and they screwed her over. And then made millions off of her IP to boot. Her concept and design was in place way before Angry Birds the game came out. And look how much money both Rovio and Hartz made off of it. So you'd be OK in the same situation of just letting them have money, most of which is rightly yours?

13. choupino

Posts: 69; Member since: May 28, 2011

@ hortizano: Are you serious? Did you read the article or even a third of it? This was a clear case of intellectual property infringement. Maybe you have not had the opportunity to invent or create something worthwhile or even basically interesting. If you did and something like this happened, you'd probably be livid. This woman got back doored due to corporate greed. Think about it. Or can you?

18. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

Well...Grumpy Cat will be suing you and your cat, as your cat is pissed that it can't obtain the bird... O_o

11. skymitch89

Posts: 1452; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

If there are any similarities between the Angry Birds that Juli Adams came up with & the Angry Birds game that Rovio came out with, then Adams shouldn't be suing the toy manufacturer she should be suing Rovio.

12. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

But if you read the article, it says that she alleges Hartz sold her intellectual property to Rovio. Rovio didn't have a contract with her, Hartz did. Hartz broke the contract, therefore they should be the target of the suit.

14. choupino

Posts: 69; Member since: May 28, 2011

@VZWuser76: I can definitely see where your idea is rooted. The only thing is when multiple companies are entangled in an infringement lawsuit, they all can be sued; since they all have the responsibility of "due diligence", when entering into an agreement involving intellectual or patented properties. It's only fair. This forces the "clean parties" to show that they had no knowledge and performed due diligence; which normally outs the "intellectual property thief" in the process.

15. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

That depends on if Hartz was representing themselves as the owner of the IP in question or not. Rovio most likely saw one of the plush toys and wanted to know if they could build a game based on it. They contact Hartz who represents themselves as the IP owner. Is Rovio expected to distrust Hartz and ask to see their patents and trademarks, or do they take Hartz at their word? I would guess most of the business transactions similar to this are done "in good faith". All Rovio needs is an assumption that Hartz was being straight with them to keep them out of the crosshairs.

16. kevin91202

Posts: 642; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Finally, an article written by Alan F. that's not littered with extraneous commas and other grammatical erros. Good job...

19. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

You should talk, "erros" boy... O_o Change your username to "Errosboy", for you shall hence be known from now until the end of all time...

20. GreenZone

Posts: 146; Member since: Mar 04, 2014

Is this for real? LOL

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