The giant toymaker is suing Buzz Bee Toys and Lanard Toys, claiming they infringed on its Nerf N-Strike Disc Shot patent. It's also singling out Buzz Bee for allegedly violating Hasbro's Super Soaker juggernaut.
Hasbro's charges might not be too far off-base. While perusing the Buzz Bee website, I found a line of Air Blasters that seem eerily similar to Nerf's plastic dart guns, and a Super Soaker-esque line of Water Warriors pressurized water guns.
This doesn't mean that Buzz Bee will lose, even if Hasbro can afford fancier lawyers. We'll have to let the case play itself out in court, unless the parties agree to settle along the way.
Toymakers and legal fisticuffs aren't exactly new acquaintances:
(NYSE: MAT)and MGA slugged it out over Bratz ownership two years ago.
- Hasbro and Mattel teamed up to sue developers of a popular Scrabble clone on Facebook, months before Hasbro partnered with Electronic Arts
(Nasdaq: ERTS)to roll out the real deal.
- Toymakers can also be on the receiving end of the pain, judging by consumer reactions to toxic-paint recalls three years ago at Mattel and RC2
Hasbro has been living a busy life, even before these patent-infringement lawsuits began to take shape. Beyond its existing proprietary or licensed playthings, Hasbro is teaming up with Discovery Communications
Hasbro still has the time to protect its patents, because every piece of its intellectual property matters. Does Hasbro risk alienating kiddies by looking like a big legal bully? Are you kidding? The average child rolling his or her way through a Sorry board game will never have a clue that Hasbro has its legal team set to stun.
What do you think will be the hot toys for the 2010 holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owned way too many Hasbro toys growing up. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.