Hasbro Accused of Ripping Off Toymakers

     PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CN) – Hasbro’s “Marvel Superheroes Mashers” line of action figures ripped off an idea for a product with interchangeable body parts, toymakers claim in court.
     Scituate-based Wild Horse Concepts filed the complaint in superior court along with its president, Steven D’Aguanno, and their partners from a joint venture, Alfred Vuono and H. Kirk Bozigian.
     The inventors say they had an idea for “a new and unique pattern of play” and presented the concept for “MolecuLords” to Pawtucket-based Hasbro, along with a prototype, on Feb. 1, 2011.
     At the presentation, the plaintiffs demonstrated their vision of using “interchangeable head and body parts from various action figures and types of action figures and crossing the respective species of these action figures with these interchangeable parts,” according to the April 17 complaint.
     Such presentations are a “universally accepted practice in the toy business,” complete with strict rules to avert the possibility of a business later facing claims that it stole the idea it was shown, the toymakers note.
     If Hasbro had been working on a similar concept, it had “an affirmative duty” to terminate the demonstration immediately and caution the presenters about the possibility of any similarity, “however tenuous,” according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff toymakers say that never happened. Instead, Hasbro’s representatives “unanimously” asked to keep the plaintiffs’ presentation materials for further evaluation, according to the complaint.
     It took Hasbro a few more weeks to report that it was supposedly not interested in the concept, the plaintiffs say.
     Nevertheless, Hasbro allegedly launched its line of Marvel Superhero Mashers two years later. The plaintiffs say the toy features action figures based off of Marvel Comic characters with interchangeable body parts.
     “The changes incorporated by Hasbro to this pre-existing product/concept line are virtually identical to the MolecuLords product/concept presented by plaintiffs to Hasbro personnel,” the complaint states.
     Hasbro has since spun off the MoleculoLords concept into other product lines, including Transformers, Jurassic Park and Mr. Potato Head, the plaintiff toymakers claim.
     The toymakers seek punitive damages for breach of contract, fraud, theft of intellectual property and other claims. They are represented by W. Kenneth O’Donnell and Edward D’Agostino of Cranston.

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