On Tuesday, January 17th, children’s toy maker Fisher-Price Inc. of East Aurora, NY, filed a patent infringement suit against bicycle distributor Dynacraft BSC, Inc. of American Canyon, CA. At issue in the case is a series of patents covering electronic speed control technologies used in battery-powered ride-on products marketed by Dynacraft. The patent infringement suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (D. Del.).
- U.S. Patent No. 7222684, titled System, Apparatus, and Method for Providing Control of a Toy Vehicle. It claims a method for controlling acceleration of a toy vehicle configured to be operated by a person which involves generating a transition signal from a throttle signal in such a way that softens the initiation of the toy vehicle’s motion.
- U.S. Patent No. 7487850, entitled Children’s Ride-On Vehicles Having Improved Shifter Assemblies. It discloses a children’s ride-on vehicle which has a shifter handle which allows a child to change the velocity of the vehicle by adjusting the shifter handle’s position.
- U.S. Patent No. 7621543, titled Blow-Molded Wheels Having Undercut Treads, Methods for Producing the Same, and Children’s Ride-On Vehicles Including the Same. This discloses a children’s ride-on vehicle using wheels that are blow-molded from plastic in such a way that improves the complexity of the treads which can be molded into the tires.
- U.S. Patent No. 7950978, same title as the ‘684 patent. It claims a toy vehicle operated by a person having a throttle switch electrically connected to a motor and capable of sending a throttle signal in such a way that improves safety and reduces the risks of a vehicle flipping or slipping on a wet surface.
According to the complaint, Fisher-Price and Mattel acquired the ‘684 and ‘978 patents from Innovation First, a former Fisher-Price supplier of battery-powered ride-on vehicle components, during the development of Fisher-Price Power Wheels ride-on vehicles having Smart Drive and Smooth Start Technology. Fisher-Price alleges that Dynacraft is importing infringing ride-on vehicle products, such as the 24V Disney Princess Carriage ride-on product, which practices speed control circuit technology which was copied from Innovation First. Dynacraft’s ride-on vehicles also practice technologies which Fisher-Price argues are covered by its shifter and wheel patents.
The patent complaint includes four counts of patent infringement, one for each patent asserted by Fisher-Price in the case. Fisher-Price seeks a judgement declaring that Dynacraft has willfully infringed the asserted patents-in-suit and as well as trebled damages under the terms of Title 35 U.S.C. Section 284.