Ohio Man Says Universal Dealings Not So Sweet

     ORLANDO (CN) – An Ohio Man claims in court that NBCUniversal and the Universal Orlando theme park ripped off his idea for its new, chocolate factory themed restaurant.
     In a lawsuit filed in the Orange County, Fla. circuit court, Adam Limle claims he was working on a business concept he called “1-800-Santa-Claus” in 2003, when he asked his 9-year-old daughter Lindsey to draw a map of the North Pole.
     He says he thought his daughter’s vision of the North Pole would better connect with young children than one drafted by an adult.
     But as he recounts in the August 18 complaint, there was one feature of Lindsey’s drawing that particularly caught his attention: a small building she called “The Chocolate Factory.”
     “Limle questioned his daughter about what the building and name represented, and she advised him that ‘that is where the Elves eat!’ Lindsey then explained her concept to her father, which involved an elaborate interactive culinary and confectionery vision which involved an experience for visitors combining all of the five human senses,” the complaint says.
     Limle says he “immediately realized” his young daughter had a vision with “unlimited global potential, mass appeal, and tremendous opportunity for exponential growth and scalability.”
     He says he immediately founded The Chocolate Factory LLC, worked for years on the concept, and a secured trademark that he has since litigated over with both The Cheesecake Factory and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
     Limle claims in the lawsuit that as he developed his concept and marketing plan, he realized the Universal Orlando Resorts, and specifically
     Universal Citywalk, would be an ideal location for “the first combined fixed destination chocolate-and-confection-themed restaurant attraction with a full working chocolate and confection factory as a central attraction for visitors.”
     He says he first pitched the idea to Universal in 2008, and the entertainment conglomerate express “great interest” in the concept.
     As the talks continued, Limle says, Universal agreed to keep his plans secret and not to use any aspect of it without compensating him.
     All the while however, Universal was secretly hatching a plan “to develop and exploit” Limle’s Chocolate Factory concept, the complaint says.
     Then, in 2012, NBCUniversal announced the planned opening of “The Toothsome Chocolate Factory & Savory Feast Emporium” which Limle claims incorporated many of the ideas and features he had shared during his pitch.
     The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is slated to open later this year. Limle, meanwhile, claims he is the victim of the defendants’ “brazen theft and misappropriation of TCF’s entire business plan, creative concept, and national roll-out development and marketing plan.”
     He is seeking $40 million in damages on claims of trademark infringement, breach of oral contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, misappropriation of trade secrets, fraud in the inducement, and constructive fraud.
     He is represented by David Oliver of Orlando.
     A spokesman for Universal said the company does not comment on litigation.

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