Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRK BRK owned Jazwares, the company behind the popular Squishmallows plush toys, has filed a lawsuit against Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc BBW over alleged intellectual property infringement.
What Happened: Jazwares, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has taken legal action against Build-A-Bear, accusing the latter of producing “knockoff” versions of its Squishmallows, Reuters reported. The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Los Angeles federal court.
Build-A-Bear, in turn, has filed a counter lawsuit against Jazwares, asserting that its new Skoosherz plush toy line is based on its existing plush animals. The company also claims that its marketing and advertising since the launch of Skoosherz last month clearly indicates its authorship.
This legal dispute is the latest in Jazwares’ efforts to protect Squishmallows from alleged knockoffs and counterfeits, including a lawsuit against online retail giant Alibaba Group.
Build-A-Bear introduced Skoosherz ahead of Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, targeting a market interested in plush toys designed to be “uniquely styled for optimal hugging benefits.”
Build-A-Bear did not immediately respond to Benzinga‘s request for comment.
Why It Matters: Squishmallows, which gained popularity after becoming a viral sensation on TikTok and attracting devotees like Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, have been part of Berkshire Hathaway since Buffett’s conglomerate acquired the parent company of Jazwares, the insurance holding company Alleghany, in October 2022.
As the legal battle unfolds, it is important to note that this is not the first time Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has been embroiled in legal disputes. In December, a high-stakes battle over a complex accounting method unfolded between Buffett and truck-stop mogul Jimmy Haslam regarding the earnings of Pilot Travel Centers, a company in which Berkshire Hathaway holds a majority stake. This dispute could potentially influence a billion-dollar transaction.
Despite these legal challenges, Buffett’s primary source of wealth remains his ownership of Berkshire Hathaway, which has seen impressive growth over the years. In 2023, the share price of Berkshire Hathaway increased by over 14%, adding approximately $13.6 billion to Buffett’s net worth.
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