Kiwi toy firm wins multi-million dollar legal battle over balloon device rip off

A Kiwi toy firm has won a multi-million dollar legal battle against an American company that ripped off its product.

Zuru's Bunch o Balloons device – which attaches to a hose and fills multiple balloons at once – launched the company into the big time.

But it also led them to a fight in court.

Now a jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has found that American company Telebrands wilfully infringed US patent laws.

It sold a Battle Balloon product line, including Balloon Bonanza HD and Battle Balloon Color Burst.

The marketing videos for the toy are eerily similar to that of Zuru's Bunch o Balloons adverts.

Zuru was awarded US$12,250,000 (around NZ$18m) for lost profits and royalties.

Co-chief executive Nick Mowbray says it's an amazing result.

"We're obviously over the moon. We've been fighting this case for over almost three years now.

"Of course we like protecting our intellectual property, so it's a great thing when you come out on top."

Mowbray told 1 NEWS the company was constantly embroiled in legal fights.

"We get copied all the time, so we're in multiple patent suits at any one time.

"It's almost a form of flattery, when you get your IP breached on a regular basis. It just means you're doing something right and you're creating a successful product."

He said Bunch O Balloons was number one selling toy in North America this year, for the third year running.

This year they have sold 30 to 40 million packs, around $170m worth.

Zuru's popular Bunch o Balloons device has been a target for copycats. Source: 1 NEWS



Man, 25, charged with murder over death of eight-month-old girl in 2016

A man has been charged with the murder of an eight-month-old girl in Whanganui in 2016.

Police say the 25-year-old man appeared in Masterton District Court today and has been remanded in custody.

Bella Richardson died at a property in Whanganui on 7 November 2016.

Police say the accused was known but not related to her.

Justice Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Watch: Can you help? Black car takes off from West Auckland suburb after driver tries to grab woman

Police have released footage in the hopes it will help them find a man who grab a woman in West Auckland while she was walking down a street at night last week.

Detective Elizabeth Willis says the victim was walking towards Riversdale Road in Avondale on September 11 when she was followed by a man driving a black sedan between 8pm and 9:30pm.

The man, described as being possibly Māori or Pacific Island descent, in his 30s and around 175cm tall, yelled out to the victim before proceeding to park his car on Riversdale Road.

As the woman walked past, the suspect got out of his vehicle and grabbed her from behind but the victim managed to escape and hide until the man left the scene.

"This was a particularly frightening experience for the victim and we are very keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or seen other suspicious behaviour in the area," Detective Willis said.

"If you have seen a vehicle or person matching this description behaving suspiciously, please call us immediately, even the smallest piece of information may prove valuable to help ensure this man is held to account for his actions."

People with information can contact Detective Willis from Avondale Police on (09) 820 5776 or anonymously provide information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police are hunting the man who was driving the car in Avondale, followed the woman and grabbed her from behind. Source: facebook.com/AucklandDistrictPolice

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Fence post through car's windshield comes extremely close to hitting driver's head in Waikato crash

A driver in the Waikato walked away "extremely lucky" as their newly purchased turbo-charged car went through a farm fence and over a cattle tunnel, according to police.

The owner felt a wooden fence post brush passed their face after it pierced the car's windscreen in the crash yesterday.

Constable John Keoghan from Waikato Police said the driver of the car only walked away with a sprained ankle.

Mr Keoghan said the driver and owner had only bought the car last Friday. They had saved up for a while to purchase the vehicle and it was their dream car.

They had never owned or operated a turbo, high performance vehicle before.

As they left Te Aroha the gears were changed at high revs on a slightly wet road. The back wheels spun out and control was lost.

Mr Keoghan wanted to share this story in the hope that it makes someone think twice and potentially save someones life "we can only try" he says in a Facebook post.


Fence post through car in Waikato.
Fence post through car in Waikato. Source: NZ Police


Watch: Phil Twyford slams Judith Collins' attitude to compo for Housing NZ tenants evicted under bogus meth testing

Housing Minister Phil Twyford has hit back at hardline questions from National MP Judith Collins about today's decision by Housing New Zealand to compensate hundreds of tenants it evicted from state homes on the basis of bogus methamphetamine testing.

A report to the Minister found about 800 tenants suffered as a result of Housing New Zealand's policy of evicting tenants for using P or allowing its use in their homes.

Affected tenants are expected to receive between $2500 and $3000 in compensation. 

In Parliament Ms Collins asked where meth testing showed residues exceeding standards, could this meth have gotten into the Housing New Zealand house any way other than smoking or baking the drug.

"No," Mr Twyford replied. "But there was no consistent baseline testing done in any Housing New Zealand houses over those years," he added. 

"There is no way of knowing whether the hundreds of people who were made homeless under this policy had any personal responsibility for the contamination of those houses. And frankly I'm shocked that the member, who used to be a lawyer, would think that that is ok. Is this the modern compassionate face of the National Party?"

Ms Collins then asked will people who smoked meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given two to three thousand dollars compensation.

"The point of the compensation is to compensate people who wrongly had their tenancies terminated and their possessions destroyed and in some cases made homeless. Those are the people who will receive payment under the assistance programme," Mr Twyford replied.

Ms Collins asked will people who sold meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given the compensation.

"No," Mr Twyford replied, to shouts from National MPs of "How would you know? How would you know?"

Earlier in the exchange, Ms Collins asked was the Minister saying it's wrong to end a tenancy when someone is using the house to break the law.

"We're saying that it's wrong to make innocent people homeless on the basis of bogus science and no decent evidence of responsibility or culpability," Mr Twyford responded. 

"Hundreds of people were made homeless under this policy, people that in some cases were vulnerable, people with addictions who were made homeless. The worse possible thing that you could do to someone who has an addiction is to make them homeless," he said.

Asked by Ms Collins is it acceptable for Housing New Zealand tenants to smoke methamphetamine in state houses, Mr Twyford said the Government does not condone the smoking of methamphetamine anywhere, but it is not acceptable for any government to throw tenants onto the street and make them homeless. 

"We recognise that making people homeless does not solve a tenant's problems or help someone overcome addiction. It just moves the problem to somewhere else and makes it worse for the person involved, for their family, their children, the community and the taxpayer," he said.

The Housing Minister defended the compensation decision against the National MP's hardline questions. Source: 1 NEWS