UPDATE (26th February, 2013): Zuru has sent a statement to ToyNews in response to IFI's claims in the original story below.
Zuru claims that IFI's Tony Norman previously wrote a signed letter to Zuru, stating that the RoboFish had nothing to do with IFI.
Zuru also says that RoboFish's inventor, Xiaoping Lu, developed the product "two years before working at IFI" and has "taken nothing from IFI". The firm claims that IFI originally refused to licence the fish toy, but offered a job to the inventor. It argues that this means IFI does not own the invention.
In a statement sent to ToyNews, Zuru said: "The RoboFish toy was in development in excess of 16 years before Innovation First made any claims to the technology. Only now, nearly two years after Zuru developed its toy, is Innovation First International planning to launch a competitive product."
A US court has dismissed a legal appeal made by Hexbug creators Innovation First International (IFI) against RoboFish manufacturer Zuru Toys.
The federal district court in Dallas, Texas affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, confirmed the ruling.
"There is no legal barrier to the sale of RoboFish in the US," read a press release. "With the case dismissed, Zuru Inc is free to legally market and distribute the popular RoboFish line throughout the country."
Anna Mowbray, COO of Zuru Inc, said: “We are extremely pleased with this ruling as we were confident once the facts were heard that the ruling would be in our favour.
“There has been strong retail and consumer interest in RoboFish, and we look forward to supporting our retail partners throughout the year.”
Tony Norman, President and CEO of Innovation First International, commented: "Zuru's RoboFish product was developed by Innovation First and its employees, using Innovation First know-how, trade secrets and resources.
"We are doing everything we can to communicate the situation with our retail partners, and we are on schedule to deliver a superior product at a competitive price in Europe this Fall."
An Innovation First International statement added: "You may hear from Zuru that this is a massive victory. It isn’t. In reality, Zuru has won nothing of substance.
"The ruling only addressed the convenience of the venue (that is, the location) where our claims should be heard. The district court judge had ruled earlier that the matter would be more conveniently heard in China, and the appeals panel decided that the district judge had discretion to make that ruling. This ruling means that Zuru, at least for now, can continue to hide from the US courts.
"We are obviously disappointed with this ruling, but it is only one issue. We are committed to this fight, the appeals are not over, and this is only one part of a much larger battle. The US Customs Service has issued an exclusion order on Zuru’s RoboFish product, and Customs has seized and impounded multiple shipments.
"IFI’s Aquabot product line will be in the market very soon. We were gratified by the enthusiasm expressed for it in New York."
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