How much profit would there be in the Teddy Bear industry?
WA teddy designers grin and bear it

TEDDY bear design sparked a legal battle between a Perth toy store and a United States retail giant -- a battle that eventually was settled out of court in November.
   But details of the agreement have not been made public.
   The Build-a-Bear Workshop based in St Louis, Missouri, had accused Richard and Roseleigh White of imitating its product designs and passing them off as their own.
   The Mandurah couple run a retail outlet called the Bear Kids Workshop at Carousel shopping centre in Cannington.
[Picture: A light blue and white bear sitting in an orange circle with an orange toolbox nearby, plus a hammer, and yellow streamers with orange lettering. Wording is "THE BEAR KIDS FACTORY" with the "S" backwards.] {Picture: A mid-blue square with a white circle inside, mainly mid-blue lettering, and a yellow teddy bear with two orange bits in the middle. Wording: "BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP"]
• The Perth company's logo • The United States logo
Soft target: The logos of the competing companies.
   Both companies trade in soft plush toys, particularly teddy bears.
The US corporation began as a small company in 1997 and over five years grew into a large-scale manufacturing and distribution company.
   In September, it applied to the Federal Court in NSW to stop the Whites expanding their business to the east coast of Australia.
   It claimed the resemblance with The Bear Kids Workshop threatened Build-a-Bear's plans to expand into the Australian retail market.
   In court, lawyers for the Whites described the US claims as a "fantastical whim" and indicated the couple planned to open more stores in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane.
   The case was moved to WA's Federal Court in October and the two sides went into mediation.
   The Whites could not be contacted for comment yesterday and a lawyer for the US company did not return calls from The West Australian.

The West Australian, "WA teddy designers grin and bear it," by Anne Calverley, Sat. March 15 2003, p 3
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COMMENT: WHY WOULD U.S. FIRM WANT TO STOP TEDDY?


A close relative, with whom I discussed the Teddy Bear newsitem, said, "How much profit would there be in the Teddy Bear industry?" Days later I realised the full importance of her question. Yes, why was this court case started? How could a US company, founded in 1997, possibly know about, or want to do anything to, a small business in Western Australia, even though it is planning to expand to other states?
   EVEN FISH AND CHIPS NOT EXEMPT! The court case has similarities to a court action by another United States company on a woman in an eastern state of Australia, possibly in 2001-2. She had been running a fish and chips* shop, and her batter† was so good that other fish and chip shop owners started buying it, ready-made, from her! The business increased, and she was printing her surname on the wrapping materials for the batter, and sales spread further and further.
  Out of the blue, a U.S. firm that made many food products under various names, sued her demanding she cease using her surname, which they said was their trademark!
__________
* chips, In U.S. English, "French fries," that is, fingers of potato fried in oil.
batter, a mixture of flour, milk or water, eggs, etc, beaten together for use as a coating in cookery. Based on The Macquarie Dictionary, 1981, Macquarie Library, Sydney, p 184

   MEDICATIONS, WHEAT ALSO: Is this the brave new world planned by the US trade negotiator who is here in Australia, saying that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme of Medicare, and the AWB farmer-controlled wheat selling firm, give Australia too much bargaining power? (The West Australian, "America has wheat, medicine in sights," Thu Mar 20 03, p 36 )
   Could it be that the Iraq war (started 20 Mar 2003) isn't the only war that some US people are involved in?
   ANOTHER TAKEOVER METHOD: The federal authorities have failed to act to stop the food monopoly that is expanded by a shares takeover of Goodman Fielder by Burns Philp, which is presumably being financed to do this, the capitulation being announced around the week ending 22 March 2003.
   HOW MANY TEDDY BEAR DESIGNS ARE THERE? Check the newsitem's third sentence. Then think! The "teddy bear" was named after Theodore ("Teddy") Roosevelt (U.S. president 1901-09), who is said to have spared or saved the life of a bear cub while hunting. (See Random House Dictionary of the English Language, College Edition, L. Urdang (ed), 1968, Random House, New York, pp 1349 and 1146). With decades of various teddy bear designs so far, it would seem that most people could design a teddy without a pattern!
   A SIMILAR TRICK WAS TRIED ON HENRY FORD! Yes, when the Ford Motor Company (founded 1903) successfully designed and mass-produced motor cars, a lawyer insisted on being paid royalties, claiming he owned the patent to the motor car! The law case lasted from 1903 to 1911, being lost by George B. Selden. But, the Frenchman Nicholas Joseph Cugnot had invented the first successful self-propelled automobile in 1770, Englishman Richard Trevithick carried passengers in his car in 1801, Frenchman Étienne Lenoir invented the first successful internal combustion engine 1860, and the various inventors and developers included more Frenchmen, a Dutchman, Germans Benz (1886) and Daimler (1895), and Americans the Duryea brothers and Haynes 1892, Winton 1896, and Henry Ford's experimental model, also 1896. In other words, Selden was trying to enforce a patent on an idea that was over a century old! (See Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, 1979, Funk & Wagnalls, New York, vol 3, pp 38-40) -- John Massam. COMMENT ENDS.
To oppose the ongoing pressure on, and replacement of, Australians by overseas corporations, contact StopMAI (WA) Coalition at 42 Central Avenue, Beaconsfield WA 6162, Australia, http://members.iinet.net.au/~jenks/CV.html
If you are pro-employee, contact the CPSU -- Community & Public Sector Union, Level 1, 445 Hay St, East Perth, WA, 6004, Australia. Tel 08 9220 0600
If pro-business, contact the SMALL BUSINESS ASSOCIATION, 80 Colin St, West Perth, WA, 6005, Australia. Tel 08 9322 2854

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Bear pictures adapted from Microsoft® Clip Art. These pictures are NOT the logos referred to in the article.
Typed on Microsoft® WordPad© and spellchecked with Microsoft® Word© on 24 Mar 03. Bear images added 25 Mar 03. Last modified on 15 Jan 04
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