Toys R Us has not commented on the allegations but the company used to have the exclusive rights to sell Fuhu’s devices although the deal has lapsed since then.
Fuhu is partly owned by gadget maker Foxconn, memory chip maker Kingston, and computer manufacturer Acer. The company started as a software maker before developing into a tablet maker in November 2011. It entered into an agreement with Toys R Us and Babies R Us chains after that to sell its Nabi tablets in the United States.
The Nabi machines have built-in maths learning programs and a painting app as well as games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds. The machine received positive ratings and reviews including ones from Wired and Time magazines. During the launch, a Toys R Us executive expressed his company’s expectation that the machine will “be a hit with our customers” until Christmas of that year.
Despite showing high hopes for the device, Fuhu claims that its partner never promoted the machine and only sold about 20,000 units over the period. Toys R Us also did not order more.
During that time, child-marketed tablets showed to be one of the hottest gadgets as rivals Vtech Innotab and LeapPad Explorer Tablet sold more units all throughout the Christmas holiday.
The following January, Fuhu and Toys R Us decided to end their deal but eight months later, the latter announced that would be selling its own Android-powered machine called Tabeo beginning October 2012. The announcement coincided with Amazon’s own announcement of selling its own similar device, which became a best seller.
The allegations of Fuhu centers on its former partner’s copying of the protective butterfly-shaped bumper around the tablet, and the general look and eco-system of the device.
Fuhu is now demanding that all Tabeos be turned over to it and some monetary damages from Toys R Us for copying its “business blueprint”.
Fuhu is now selling its own successor to its original product via other retailers.