Choon's Design moves ahead with patent lawsuit against Rainbow Loom rivals

Chad Halcom
CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS

Published: August 18, 2014 1:43 pm ET
Updated: August 18, 2014 1:46 pm ET

Image By: Catherine Kavanaugh Cheong Choon Ng

Related to this story

Topics Legal, Toys

Wixom, Mich.-based Choon’s Design LLC, makers of the popular Rainbow Loom bracelet making kit, will proceed with patent infringement lawsuits against several companies, now that a rival toy and craft company has lost a bid to invalidate that patent.

Choon’s Design late last month resolved a challenge to its 2011 patent for Rainbow Loom by Randolph, N.J.-based LaRose Industries LLC before the federal Patent Trial and Appeal Board, an agency of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Choon’s Design, co-owned by inventor-engineer Cheong Choon Ng and wife Fen Chan, is suing LaRose and retailer Toys R Us Inc. in a separate patent infringement lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg in Detroit, and three other companies in separate cases. No date is set for a trial in the LaRose case, although pretrial discovery is expected to continue into 2015.

But LaRose, makers of the similar Cra-Z-Loom and other Cra-Z-Art toy and stationery products, brought a challenge to the Trial and Appeal Board a few months after Choon’s lawsuit and sought to invalidate the patent. The board denied the challenge in part and instituted the patent in May; the companies reached an agreement in July that settled another part of the case.

At issue is Ng’s design for Rainbow Loom, a plastic tool for making bracelets and other items from small rubber bands. The company has contended in court that imitation loom kits have flooded the market, including Cra-Z-Loom.

“My attorneys told me we should [go to court] in order to tell people not to copy us, and many would not fight but would drop out — which was true, a lot of them were small places importing a cheaper China product, and they had no interest in [litigation],” Ng said this week.

“But obviously some of the loom makers have big companies behind them, and those are more difficult to fight.”

Ng has said previously he developed the Rainbow Loom in 2010 after watching his daughters, then 12 and 9, twist ponytail bands into rubber band bracelets. After realizing the market potential of it, he and Chan invested their $10,000 life savings to bring it to market.

The company has won four Toy Industry of America awards since the product launch in 2011, grew to reported revenue of $44 million in 2013. Choon’s Design claims between 6 million and 7 million unit sales since the original product launch in late 2011.

Ng also said since the Rainbow Loom, his company has also sought to patent Monster Tail, a smaller and more portable loom that also makes bracelets, as well as a new Finger Loom that could reach the market within weeks.

The ruling from the patent board preserves his Rainbow Loom patent, and with it his standing to sue LaRose and at least three other companies.

Ng said he still hopes to resolve the litigation soon.

“We’re trying to end this as quickly as possible. We are not interested really in suing people, but we want to keep refreshing the product, so that the fun factor [for customers] will continue,” he said.

Choon’s Design has brought at least eight patent lawsuits between early 2013 and April of this year, four of which have been settled or dismissed.

“With the incredible success behind the Rainbow Loom, it was inevitable that copycats would try to profit off Choon’s work,” attorney John Siragusa of Birmingham IP law firm Carlson, Gaskey & Olds PC said in a statement.

“Now we can move forward knowing that the U.S. Patent Office has held the patent to be valid and take the appropriate steps to defend his rightful intellectual property against these imitations.”

Ralph Selitto Jr., shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP in Florham Park, N.J., and attorney for LaRose Industries and Toys R Us in the Detroit lawsuit, declined to comment on the USPTO case Thursday.


Comments

Choon's Design moves ahead with patent lawsuit against Rainbow Loom rivals

Chad Halcom
CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS

Published: August 18, 2014 1:43 pm ET
Updated: August 18, 2014 1:46 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

SPE toy donation rolls into 15th year

January 26, 2015 2:01 pm ET

Continuing its holiday tradition, the Detroit section of the Society of Plastics Engineers donated more than 30,000 toys to Detroit-area charities in ...    More

Image

European study finds 'no consumer health risk' from current BPA levels

January 21, 2015 9:45 am ET

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded there is no health risk to consumers of any age group from current exposure levels to...    More

Image

Emerging markets beckon China's toymakers

January 21, 2015 2:08 pm ET

Manufacturers at the recent Hong Kong Toys & Game show say plummeting oil prices have had negligible effect on toy makers' bottom lines.    More

Image

Step2 names former New Balance executive as president, CEO

January 16, 2015 10:00 am ET

Toy manufacturer and rotational molder Step2 LLC has picked consumer products veteran Chris Quinn as its new CEO and president.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events