In November 2016, the toy company Hasbro held a "casting call" for inventors to submit new toy ideas. I submitted video and photos for a series of small collectible cat figurines called Itty Bitty Kitties. I never heard back from them. Today, I saw a new toy on the shelf, made by Hasbro, that is a series of small collectible cat figurines called Lost Kitties. A few of them look very similar to the concept ideas I submitted. I believe they may have used my idea without permission. Do you think I have a case against them?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Obviously specifics would be needed for a proper analysis, but in general you cannot protect an idea or a concept. Any creative expression will be covered by copyright law automatically. Then you register the work with the US Copyright Office so to perfect your bundle of federal rights like the right to access the courts, the right to ask for statutory damages (sometimes the only damages worth bringing the case over), the right to attorney fees, etc.
So if they infringed on actual creative expression then perhaps there is something here, but that was not apparent from your posting.
If this is a serious issue for you, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.
Our firm is now referred by the American Bar Association (see under the New York section): http://www.americanbar.org/groups/delivery_legal_services/resources/programs_to_help_those_with_moderate_income.html
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.
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