Toy lawsuit ends in favor of Colorado professor



COLORADO SPRINGS — A company headed by a Colorado professor who invented a strategy board game has won a $1.6 million patent infringement verdict.


The Gazette reports that Michael Larson developed a game called Khet, a strategy board game using lasers and mirrors.


Larson and two of his former students at Tulane University own Innovention Toys LLC, based in New Orleans. Larson now works at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.


Innovention prevailed in a patent infringement against MGA, Wal-Mart Stores and Toys R Us. A federal court in New Orleans found that MGA’s Laser Battle game, sold through the two retailers, infringed on Innovention’s patent for Khet.


“It does feel good, since this court case has consumed a large part of my life,” Larson told the newspaper. “We have won an important battle in this war and we hope it is a decisive battle. We are happy for this jury verdict, but if it stands it will barely cover the legal fees in this case.”


MGA said in a statement that it was reviewing the verdict and had no immediate comment on it.


Innovention plans to use any damage awards that exceed its attorney fees to bring three other games the company has developed to market, he said.


“We had a lot of products we had to put on hold because we didn’t have the capital to bring them to market because most of our capital was being used to support the lawsuit,” Larson said. “We plan to unveil two expansions to Khet and a new game at next year’s Toy Fair if we win attorney fees.”


Innovention filed the suit against MGA and the two retailers in 2007 alleging they took advantage of delays in shipping Khet to retailers in 2005 caused by Hurricane Katrina. Innovention won a court order in 2010 forcing MGA to stop selling its game, but the injunction was later struck down on appeal. The company nearly lost a key part of the case last year, when a federal judge granted a partial judgment for the defendants that had questioned Innovention’s numbers supporting its claim for lost profits.


Larson said Innovention has sold more than 300,000 copies of Khet online and through Toys R Us and specialty toy retailers.