Roblox sued tech toy maker WowWee over avatar images


A boy looks back at the Roblox banner on the facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to celebrate the company’s IPO in New York, US, March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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(Reuters) – A toy line based on characters from the online game Roblox Corp infringes its copyrights and trademarks, the company said in a lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court on Tuesday.

WowWee Group Ltd’s “My Avastars” dolls illegally copy avatars of players in the popular game platform Roblox, and are not authorized despite WowWee’s partnership with the in-game designer, Roblox said.

WowWee said in a statement Wednesday that Roblox’s allegations are “absolutely baseless” and that it “will vigorously defend its position, product and brand.” The company also said it had spent several weeks trying to resolve the dispute without litigation and had “voluntarily separated” the toys from Roblox.

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Roblox declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Roblox is one of the most popular online gaming sites in the world and one of the first companies to focus on the meta version. Its platform allows users to build “experiences” such as games, events and virtual spaces, which are visited by character avatars.

Roblox’s Monday lawsuit said Hong Kong-based Wowowe partnered with popular experience developer Gamefam to create a line of personalized toys that match player avatars in a role-playing experience called “My Avastars: RP.”

Gamefam is not a defendant in the case, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Given the centrality of Roblox’s avatars to its success, WWE saw an opportunity to make a quick buck,” the lawsuit said, and “chose to exploit Roblox’s success — its brand, reputation, goodwill and intellectual property — without ever including Roblox.”

Roblox also says it has a contract with another company, Jazzwares LLC, to make Avatar toys, and WowWee has not requested the same license.

The suit alleges WowWee infringed Roblox’s copyright and trademark rights, violated its terms of use and falsely advertised that the toys were affiliated with Roblox. He asked the court to stop the sale of the toys and asked for an undisclosed amount of damages.

The case is Roblox Corp v. WowWee Group Ltd, US District Court for the Northern District of California, case number 3:22-cv-04476.

For Roblox: Andrew Gass and Sarah Ray Latte and Watkins

For WowWee: Not Available (Note: This story has been updated with comments from WowWee.)

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Blake Britten

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Contact him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com.



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