Los Angeles, CA – Fun With Phonics, Inc. filed a copyright infringement lawsuit at the Federal District Court in Los Angeles over alleged infringing sales of phonetic language teaching tools by Leapfrog. Plaintiff’s predecessor, William O’Connor, created materials to aid in learning to read English by phonetic methods of instruction, including anthropomorphizing letters of the alphabet so that each letter would assume a character and engage in activities that children would associate with the letter. “For example, Mr. O’Connor drew the letter ‘I’ with sticky green liquid dripping from it and gave it the character of ‘Icky I.’ This characterization helped students remember that the letter ‘I’ makes the short vowel sound with which the word ‘icky’ begins.” These characters were used and sold in various media, including flash cards, audiotapes, and CD-Roms. Plaintiff then acquired the rights from Mr. O’Connor and filed copyright applications with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Leapfrog allegedly began marketing phonetic instructional materials infringing upon Plaintiff’s copyrighted materials in 2003. “Leapfrog’s materials presented anthropomorphized letters with visual representations giving each letter a character connected with the phonetic sounds associated with that letter.” Leapfrog is accused of copying the “Icky I” character from Plaintiff’s work, down to the sickly green liquid dripping from the letter. Plaintiff states that its damages cannot yet be determined and may elect between the profits generated by the Leapfrog or statutory damages under 17 U.S.C. § 504. Plaintiff also requests that the damages be enhanced because the Defendant’s alleged infringement is willful and intentional. Plaintiff also requests that their attorneys’ fees and other costs in connection with the prosecution of its claims be paid by defendant pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505. The case is titled Fun With Phonics, LLC v. Leapfrog, Inc., CV09-0916 CT (C.D. Cal. 2009).