Kiwi toy firm wins $18m water balloon fight

As of July Zuru was worth $500 million, helped along by the sales of more than three billion individual water balloons in the past year alone. Photo: Getty Images
As of July Zuru was worth $500 million, helped along by the sales of more than three billion individual water balloons in the past year alone. Photo: Getty Images

A New Zealand toy firm that invented a globally successful water balloon toy has won $NZ18 million in a legal fight against a company that copied its product.

Zuru Toys invented the Bunch O Balloons, a device that fills more than 100 self-tying water balloons simultaneously.

Zuru was founded in Cambridge in 2004 by Mat Mowbray, who owns the business along with his siblings, Nick and Anna.

As of July Zuru was worth $500 million, helped along by the sales of more than three billion individual water balloons in the past year alone.

In April Zuru filed a lawsuit for patent infringement against Telebrands, a US telemarketing company, for products that appeared to be a knock-off of its Bunch O Balloons.

Zuru has already won three preliminary injunctions against Telebrands for its balloon products range, including its Battle Balloons, Balloon Bonanza and Easy Einstein products.

A jury has now found in Zuru's favour over the Battle Balloon product line, including Balloon Bonanza HD and Battle Balloon Color Burst.

Zuru was awarded lost profits and damages of US$12,250,000 (about $18m).

Chief operating officer Anna Mowbray said the company was committed to "continuously fighting what we believe are knock-off companies like Telebrands who try to undercut inventors and claim innovations as their own".

"We are confident that the US legal system will help us continue to send this message.

"Moreover, we are looking forward to an award of enhanced damages above and beyond the $12,250,000 based on findings of Telebrands' wilful misconduct."

Zuru has two additional cases against Telebrands, involving the Balloon Bonanza and Easy Einsteins products, which it says are also copies of its products.

Lab testing on samples of Telebrands' Easy Einsteins product had also showed it contained toxic chemicals well in excess of legal limits for children's toys.

Telebrands has argued that following the lab tests it was already withdrawing the product from the market.

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