Labeling of rubber ducks at issue

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Posted: Friday, December 6, 2013 12:00 am

Omaha’s Oriental Trading Co., a crafts and novelty goods supplier, has sued a company selling goods on for misappropriating trademark and copyrights.

Oriental Trading and its subsidiary Fun Express filed suit late last month against Rhode Island-based Yagoozon Inc. in U.S. District Court in Omaha. The lawsuit alleges that Yagoozon uses company trademarks to advertise goods on that were bought from other suppliers — novelties also sold by Oriental Trading, such as rubber ducks and whoopee cushions.

“Defendant has used, and is using, the OTC mark to sell products that are identical to Oriental Trading’s products,” the suit says. “And, in fact, defendant uses the OTC mark to pass off the goods on its website as belonging to Oriental Trading.”

The civil lawsuit requests a jury trial in Omaha.

Yagoozon Chief Executive Justin Ligeri said his company has done nothing wrong and is being sued by Oriental Trading because Yagoozon first sued the Omaha company this year over a pricing dispute.

“This case will be dismissed,” Ligeri said. “I never once used their photos or brand names.”

Oriental Trading was bought last year by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. after a series of ownership structures saddled the 4,000-employee company with high debt.

Oriental Trading bills itself as the largest direct retailer of budget-priced party supplies, arts, crafts, toys and novelties. The company also sells school supplies, home decor items and gifts, part of a portfolio of about 40,000 products that include items such as pink flamingos and wedding favors.

Yagoozon ranked first on the 2013 Inc. Magazine list of the Top 100 fastest-growing retail companies, with 2012 sales of $19 million, up from about $110,000 in 2009.

The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

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