NEW YORK (Reuters) - Finnish mobile games maker Rovio, which owns the globally successful Angry Birds brand, is suing two North American companies for selling allegedly counterfeit trinkets based on its famous game.
Rovio filed suit in Manhattan federal court on Thursday against vending firms Allstar Vending of Canada and California-based Toy Amazon claiming it was the victim of “unscrupulous individuals” trying to capitalize on Angry Birds’ popularity. Rovio accused the companies of selling bracelets, key chains, charms, as well as artwork and textiles.
Rovio is asking the court for $2 million in damages for each counterfeit item sold and a halt to their distribution.
Angry Birds, released in 2009, is the No. 1 paid mobile application of all time, the complaint said, having been downloaded 250 billion times across all devices. In it, players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal birds’ eggs.
Rovio has expanded the brand into an animated TV series and is merchandising toys and clothing.
The company has struggled to retain players, and earnings halved last year because of investments in the animation business, as well as stalling sales.
In the lawsuit, Rovio said that, after discovering the fake items in 2012, it tried to get a settlement with the two companies. Toy Amazon, for its part, said it purchased its offending goods from an unknown source in the downtown Los Angeles toy district.
Rovio said that it learned last March of a seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of 17,500 Angry Birds items sent by Allstar to Toy Amazon that Rovio claimed were counterfeit. It said neither company was licensed to sell Angry Birds branded merchandise.
A representative at the Allstar headquarters in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, who refused to identify himself, said he was unaware of the lawsuit.
Johnson Kuo, manager of Toy Amazon, said he was also unaware of the suit. He said Allstar told him six or seven months ago that it had “some items to sell us, and we (said) okay. We never received the items.”
He said he understood the items were “Angry Bird toys.”
As for the lawsuit, Kuo said: “We don’t have any money, so I’m not going to do anything about it.”
He added he was in the process of closing the company.
The case is Rovio Entertainment Ltd v. Allstar Vending Inc et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 14-cv-7346.
Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Ted Botha and Andre Grenon