In today's highly competitive toy industry, finding innovative, fun ways for kids to play is the key to success. The Canadian company Spin Master has mastered this skill to become a leading global children's entertainment company while strategically leveraging intellectual property (IP) to protect its products and entertainment properties around the world.
The company's success
Spin Master has a diversified portfolio of toys, games, products and entertainment properties. Founded in 1994 by two childhood friends, Ronnen Harary and Anton Rabie, the company went from selling its very first product—the Earth Buddy—on the street to becoming a public company with multiple award-winning global brands, such as Air Hogs®, Kinetic Sand®, Bakugan®, Hatchimals® and PAW Patrol®.
Innovation is integral to Spin Master's success. The company has a global research and development network with five centres of ideation and innovation in different parts of the world. These teams are in constant search of new ways to engage kids in play. However, this innovation is devalued if the IP surrounding the innovation cannot be protected.
No matter what stage of product development the company is at, thought is always given to IP protection, says Christopher Harrs, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Corporate Secretary of Spin Master.
Perspective on IP
Spin Master on Canada's accession to the Hague Agreement:
"We are encouraged that Canada is acceding to international treaties, like the Hague Agreement on Industrial Designs, as it can assist Canadian companies, like Spin Master, to pursue a global IP protection strategy and succeed in a competitive field."
Spin Master has a broad portfolio of IP rights, most of which were filed in Canada and the United States. But the company also seeks industrial design registration, patents, trademarks and copyright protections around the world. The main reason for that is to legally protect its products from the "imitation game." The company has developed and nurtured resources dedicated to IP protection and enforcing IP in foreign countries.
The toy industry is rife with copycat products and counterfeits, according to Harrs. "As soon as a company has a hit on its hands, the imitators come fast and furious," he says. "It is important to be smart as to what is the most effective IP to file for giving you the quickest and least expensive way to stop the imitators."
The company encourages its designers, engineers and brand managers to keep IP protection top of mind during the evolution of products, because "obtaining strong (IP) protection on a timely basis can save money in lost revenue to imitators," says Harrs.