Two plush toy makers, Squishmallows and Skoosherz, are engaged in a dispute over copyright issues. Squishmallows, made by Jazwares, is being called out by Skoosherz, made by Build-A-Bear Workshop, for its similarity to their own egg-shaped cushion animal characters. Despite the cuddly nature of the toys, the conflict is becoming a hard-nosed legal battle.
Jazwares, the maker of Squishmallows, has filed an intellectual property lawsuit in California, while Build-A-Bear Workshop has filed a lawsuit of its own in retaliation in Missouri. The latter aims to establish that their Skoosherz is simply their own version of a type of toy that has been popular in recent years.
Jazwares accuses Skoosherz of being “knockoffs” of the Squishmallows they have sold since 2017, pointing out similarities in the shapes of the toys, design, and fabric used. Jazwares claims that Build-A-Bear Workshop has copied the distinct look and feel of the Squishmallows to capitalize on its global success blatantly and intentionally.
Originally, Squishmallows were available in a small range of animals, which became increasingly popular during the pandemic. The toys also gained viral popularity on TikTok and are now available in more than 1,000 different versions.
The dispute comes as the market for velvety squashy toys has continued to grow, with many versions widely available and even counterfeits being alleged. Jazwares is pursuing a separate case against Chinese online retailer Alibaba for allegedly selling counterfeits. Jazwares’ parent company was bought by US billionaire Warren Buffett’s investment firm in 2022.
Build-A-Bear, meanwhile, launched its Skoosherz range to capitalize on the popularity of soft toys leading up to Valentine’s Day. They did not initially respond to a request for comment.