Warren Buffett is a man of many ventures, but his latest legal endeavor is stuffed with animosity.
Berkshire-Hathaway-owned Jazwares, which creates the now-viral Squishmallows plush toys, is suing the well-known stuffed animal maker, Build-A-Bear, in Los Angeles Court for its new line of stuffed toys called Skoosherz, which Jazwares claims is a “knockoff” of Squishmallows.
“When it comes to intellectual property rights, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery,” said Jazwares’ lawyer, Moez Kaba, in a statement per Reuters.
Jazwares claims that Build-A-Bear has “blatantly and intentionally” copied Squishmallows designs, which are based on “simplified Asian style Kawaii faces,” and that, in doing so, the company violated intellectual property rights.
Squishmallows first rolled out in 2017 and were characteristically known for their supersoft and shapes that make them conducive to cuddling and stacking. There are more than 100 variations of Squishmallows based on everything from animals to food items to movie characters — even Buffett has his own Squishmallow.
The brand gained mass popularity in 2020 after going viral on TikTok during the pandemic when many were focused on purchasing comfort items for their homes due to quarantine and social distancing rules.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased the parent company of Jazwares, Alleghany, in 2022.
In response to Monday’s lawsuit, Build-A-Bear countersued Jazwares, claiming that Skoosherz is based on Build-A-Bear’s existing plush toys and that the company has been clear about that in marketing materials.
Jazwares is asking the court to prohibit Build-A-Bear from selling Skoosherz as well as seeking an unspecified amount in damages, while Build-A-Bear is asking for the court to state that it did not violate any copyright infringement and that Squishmallows does not have the right to ask for the company to cease selling Skoosherz.