by Ronnie Dungan
The legal spat between LeapFrog and Mattel has reached court, with LeapFrog seeking damages of $78m for alleged patent infringement.
LeapFrog alleges that Mattel copied the patented technology of its hugely successful LeapPad books in its PowerTouch product, while Mattel argues that the product uses different technologies and that LeapFrog?s patent is invalid because it was not a new invention. The trial is expected to last five days.
Mattel?s lawyers are pointing to the Super Speak and Read, a toy developed by Texas Instruments in the 1980s, as the basis for their claim that the LeapFrog patent is, in fact, invalid.
LeapFrog lawyer Ron Shulman told jurors that LeapFrog founder Michael Wood developed the interactive books to help children learn phonetics. When the c in cat is pushed, it connects to a switch and the LeapPad book pronounces it like k. When the c in race is pushed, the book pronounces it like an s.
"No one in the world ever thought of what Mr Wood invented before Mr Wood did," Shulman claims.
Mattel?s lawyer, Richard DeLucia, argued: "Competition doesn't prove patent infringement. It's what you're supposed to do."