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Artist claims she invented  Angry Birds , files complaint seeking compensation
Artist claims she invented Angry Birds, files complaint seeking compensation
August 5, 2014 | By Mike Rose

A Seattle artist claims that she invented the Angry Birds IP years before Rovio launched the first in its popular bird-flinging video game series, and now she's looking for compensation.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington this week, Juli Adams says that she entered into an agreement with pet toy manufacturer Hartz Mountain Corporation back in 2006 over the brand.

Hartz allegedly asked Adams to design a pet toy line, and she came up with Angry Birds, a line of plush toys for cats. The alleged agreement stated that there would be "no transfer of ownership," claims Adams, and thus she would keep ownership of the IP.

However, Adams claims (although it's unclear with what evidence) that Hartz then went on to license the Angry Birds IP to Rovio, and then "dumped" Adams and began making toys based on Rovio's vision of Angry Birds, without Adams' permission and without paying royalties to her.

Adams' suit states that her last royalty payment from Hartz with regards to the Angry Birds IP was in 2011 for $40.66. She alleges that she only recently fully understood the situation.

"I assumed they were right. I didn't put two and two together until later," she states. "It made me feel helpless. Here I am up against a big company. It was scary and unnerving."

You can read the full complaint below.

Complaint filed by Juli Adams over Angry Birds IP

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Ken Kinnison
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Hum, the actual complaint looks a bit narrower. Hartz had a lock on marketing toys for pets labeled 'angry birds' because of their/the artist's previous toy line.
But then hartz came to an agreement to market a pet toy line with rovio based on their angry birds. It's only in the realm of 'pet toys' that the case goes.
Am I reading this wrong? She's not trying to claim that rovio is stealing from her, only that hartz reused a trademark she had a stake in without her permission.
Edit- I'm only a lawyer on the internet and when phone solicitors call.

Scott Burns
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Yeah, that's what I got from reading it as well. Her claim is entirely about the fact that she created a pet toy line called Angry Birds and licensed it to Hartz and Hartz used that as a way to force the exclusive relationship with Rovio later on and reused her trademarks without her permission.

Nothing to do with the game itself or any of its merchandise outside of pet toys.

Mike Rose
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Hey guys, just a note that this is also what the article says.


Michael Joseph
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really Mike?

"A Seattle artist claims that she invented Angry Birds years before Rovio..."

You have to admit that is pretty confusing because she's not claiming she invented a video game.

Mike Rose
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Hey, I've altered it to state "the Angry Birds IP" in the first paragraph, in a bid to dissipate your confusion. If you read the full article, I think it's pretty clear that she's claiming she came up with Angry Birds as a property, rather than the video game.

Ken Kinnison
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I did read the article, including the legal brief... it wasn't clear til the legal brief. Angry Birds the video game IP and Angry Birds the pet toy IP are used a bit interchangeably and it isn't clear which is which until the overall picture is clear.

Diego Leao
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It is still confusing... It should read: "invented the "Angry Birds" trademark (the brand name, not the actual game or characters)".

But the comments fixed it for me.

Ryan Lunger
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I think you're reading it correctly, Ken. The argument seems fair. An exception could be that Adams *did* sign an amendment to the agreement giving Hartz "the right to file copyright, trademark and other intellectual property right filings in Hartz’s name, in its discretion, for all of the Licensed Products". I'd be interested in how far the lack of "good and valuable consideration" argument goes in nullifying that amendment. But, I'm also not an attorney, and quite frankly find this stuff hard to sift through meaningfully.

I was a bit disappointed -- the article preceding the official complaint stated that Hartz licensed the IP *to* Rovio. It made me initially wonder if Rovio based their Angry Birds on the already-existing pet toy version, which is not the case. That would have been a much jucier story.

Mark Velthuis
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So... I'm wondering.

Are these kind of complaints only filed against financially successfull people. Or do I only read about them happening to financially successfull people because others don't make it into the news ?

Max Haider
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You cannot get any money from someone who is financially unsuccessful, so there's no reason to file a complaint.

Carl Chavez
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I once was threatened with a lawsuit by a rich person who just wanted to crush my life, so I would disagree with your statement. ;-)

Ron Dippold
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Page 13 is the interesting one - has a photo of her design. Much more spindly, but if you squint you can see similarities.

Leo Kihlman
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I guess the realistic headline would not generate as much clicks as "Artist claims she invented AB"

So... "Artist designed an Angry Birds-named pet toy line in 2006 and is now seeking compensation from that company (Hartz) for switching to Rovio's Angry Birds-game merchandise without permission."

The follow-up headline in couple of months: "Rovio is suing Hartz"... (or "Artist reads small print next time")

Eric Gilbert
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She has a legit claim...against Hartz, not Rovio (like the complaint says). Hartz is going to have to pay, she will have a good payday.

Ian Uniacke
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Not sure why people are hating on the artist, who, at least given what we know, seems to have a pretty strong case.

Also keep in mind that Angry Birds was a clone of Crush The Castle, and the main distinguishing feature was the art (the birds). Given that, and the fact that the visual style is extremely similar to the original toys, a court could rule that Juli deserves a large portion of the Angry Birds revenue.

But you know, pesky women and that trying to make life difficult for poor struggling corporations.