It's not a battle on the scale of Apple vs. Samsung. But it's not exactly child's play, either.
The world's biggest toy store has been hauled into federal court by one of its former partners, which claims Toys"R"Us breached a contract, a covenant of understanding and good faith in releasing a kids' tablet computer recently.
Essentially, Los Angeles-based Fuhu claims the Delaware-based toy giant used a tablet strategy last holiday season with Fuhu as a template for its later launch of a tablet called the Tabeo.
In its suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, in San Diego, Fuhu claimed its own tablet, the Nabi, showed "every indication of being a blockbuster" when it was introduced last year, but Toys"R"Us didn't market it and ordered it in quantities that were "unreasonable given demand." It cites the retailer's' own claim that pre-orders came in at 1,000 every three hours."
But by the end of the 2011 holiday season, Fuhu insists, it terminated the exclusive distribution deal with Toys"R"Us because the total number of orders was "hardly more than what TRU said it could sell on its Web site in a single day."
Fuhu has a long laundry list of charges it is throwing against Toys"R"Us, including misappropriation of trade secrets, breaking a strict nondisclosure agreement and infringing on intellectual property rights by "shamelessly using Fuhu's confidential information obtained after fraudulently becoming Fuhu's exclusive distributor in an agreement signed in October, 2011."
Toys"R"Us did not respond to our e-mail seeking comment about Fuhu's allegations in time for publication. A spokeswoman told The Los Angeles Times the company had not had a chance to review the court papers (which were posted online via the document-sharing library Scribd.)
Fuhu calls its 7-inch Nabi the first "full-featured Android tablet made especially for kids, [with] a wide range of experiences to engage, entertain and educate kids including kiddified Web browsing, watching movies and TV shows, reading books, learning math and playing games."
The second-generation Nabi, released in July, runs Android 4.0 on a 1.3-gigahertz quad-core processor, has 8 GB of storage and a 2-megapixel camera, retailing for $199.
Toys"R"Us's Tabeo, to debut Oct. 21, will cost $50 less, and also has a 7-inch display, but with only 4 GB of storage. It packs a 1-GHz A8 processor.
"There is a market for tablets for children, but it is not clear that there is a market for children's tablets," consumer devices expert Avi Greengart of Current Analysis told us.
"Kids love iPads, and Amazon is deliberately targeting family use of the Kindle Fire HD with parental controls. However, all the tablets specifically aimed at children have not sold well to date, unless you consider Leapfrog, which is expanding the capabilities of its electronic education system."