WIPR reports about a lawsuit which regards the BB-8 robot from “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens”.
The US company Sphero has developed a patented technology for user-controlled, self-propelled sphere robots, which has been selling by the company since 2011.
In 2014 Sphero started negotiations with Disney and receive a license to use the character of BB-8 robot from the Star Wars series.
In 2016 the company discovered that the Canadian based toy manufacturer Spin Master had a prototype for the same toy robot that presumably used its technology. Based on this Sphero initiated a lawsuit in New York for patent infringement.
This case is interesting and indicative of the importance of intellectual property rights and their proper management. In the case at hand, we have copyrights over the original character from the movie, owned by Disney. Some trademarks and industrial designs can be added too.
On the other hand, we have a patent over the technology implemented in the end product.
Based on this bundle of rights, the relevant merchandising strategy can be very useful and profitable for the right holders giving them a serious market advantage over their competitors.