Fed. Cir. Affirms Toys “R” Us, Dollar General, Chalk Toy Design Win

Written May 18, 2020

The Federal Circuit on May 14, 2020, affirmed a lower court win for Toys “R” Us Inc. and Dollar General Corp. in a design patent, copyright, and trade dress infringement suit over a toy chalk holder designed to look like a pencil. Lanard Toys Ltd. v. Dolgencorp LLC, Fed. Cir., No. 19-1781.

Lanard Toys Ltd. sued Toys “R” Us, Dollar General, and Ja-Ru Inc., the makers of a similar toy, for infringing its patent, copyright, and trade dress, and for violating unfair competition laws. The lower court ruled against Lanard on each of the claims.

The Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s design patent finding that no ordinary observer would believe Ja-Ru’s product was the same as Lanard’s patented design.

The Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s finding that Lanard doesn’t own a valid copyright because protection doesn’t extend to ideas. Lanard sought to assert protection over any expressions of the idea of a pencil-shaped chalk holder, the court said.

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