July 27, 2009

Judge, Joovy: Baby Trend Angles For Bankruptcy After Court Smackdowns

One post about The Guiding Light and suddenly it's wall-to-wall soap opera around here. In today's episode of As The Stroller World Turns:

A court in Orange County The O.C. has awarded $8.4 million to Rob Gardner, formerly the head of marketing at Baby Trend, after a jury found the baby gear company and its CEO Denny Tsai had acted maliciously in firing Gardner and withholding his compensation in 2005. The decision came down in June, but the award was only announced last week in a series of rainmaking press releases from Gardner's lawyers.

But rather than pay up, Tsai is apparently planning to file for bankruptcy. At least that's what Tsai's patent attorney in Dallas Dallas confirmed. Seems that Gardner and Joovy, the company he founded after leaving Baby Trend, are suing for patent infringement and told the judge about the wrongful termination judgment.

joovy_baby_trend_double_abc

In 2006, Joovy debuted its Caboose stroller, which was nearly identical to the Sit 'n Stand tandem stroller that Baby Trend had been selling for years. When I saw Joovy and its clone stroller at the ABC Kids Expo in 2006, I assumed it was either a Chinese knockoff or a proliferation of an Actually By China design. I mean, either Evil Twin or Lost Twin, right?

fairclough_patent.jpg

WRONG! It's adopted! And not even from China, but from England! Baby Trend licensed a 1994 patent from a British inventor named Albert Fairclough. But the license expired in 2004. And Fairclough licensed it to Gardner and Joovy in 2005. But Tsai and Baby Trend kept right on selling those strollers anyway, simply by claiming that the platform behind the stroller seat wasn't for kids; it was for hauling huge pairs of balls. So totally unrelated and unenforceable!

Because it's a patent infringement case, it involves years of seemingly aimless dithering, which is why Baby Trend's lawyer is now saying his client is in a financial coma and might not wake up. Meanwhile, Joovy, Gardner and Fairclough are all, "No way! Denny is just faking his own death and is going to flee to Antigua! Or anyway, Catalina."

Tune in tomorrow for another episode!

Joovy Founder Robert Gardner Awarded $8.4 Million Judgment vs. Baby Trend and Denny Tsai Baby Trend Threatens Bankruptcy Filing [prweb via dt reader rachel]
Which are you gonna buy? Team Joovy for $239 [amazon]
Or Team Baby Trend, $139! [amazon]

3 Comments

they are not the same. baby trend is longer than the joovy. there is more space for a child to sit on the jumpseat. i hope baby trend doesn't go out of business.

true enough, the joovy is closer to the patented original. thing is, there are several jump seat-related patents out there, too, which to my uneducated eye look more like the Sit 'n Stand than Fairclough's patent.

The Baby Trend was the first stroller that caught my eye, technologically speaking; the first one I saw right after the kid was born was almost a bare frame. it looked awesome and utilitarian.

It's not what you posted, it's how you posted this story. Brilliant Mr. Allen!!!

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