Ex-Malaysian behind kids' craze sues Toys "R" Us and others

Ng said he has sold more than 1.2 million Rainbow Loom kits so far.  – AFP pic
Ng said he has sold more than 1.2 million Rainbow Loom kits so far. – AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Ng Cheong Choon, who emigrated from Malaysia to Detroit in 1991 to work for Nissan, is suing rivals and toy giant Toys “R” Us over his blockbuster seller Rainbow Loom, a plastic sharpener that allows kids to connect rubber bands to form bracelets that have become one the biggest hits this autumn for children and pre-teens in the United States.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ng’s Rainbow Loom is suing rival Zenacon LLC, LaRose Industries LLC, and is seeking to stop Toys “R” Us from selling the latter’s product, as well as unspecified damages.

The newspaper reported that Ng contends the plastic C-shaped fastener at the centre of a legal dispute among the entrepreneurs and retailers cashing in on the hottest crafting craze in years was copied by his rivals.

Rainbow Loom’s creator, Cheong Choon Ng, says he was angry enough to sue because Zenacon’s FunLoom “works exactly the same as Rainbow Loom,” the WSJ reported.

“I made this famous,” Ng told the newspaper.

Ng said he has sold more than 1.2 million Rainbow Loom kits so far. 

“I worked on it for three years and now everyone wants to come in,” he said.

Toys “R” Us sells a competing kit and Ng is seeking to stop the retail giant from continuing to do so.

Steven Verona, whose company Zenacon makes FunLoom, denies the allegations. 

“Is a loom something new and novel? It isn’t. It has been around for hundreds of years. Same as rubber bands,” he told WSJ.

Ng told the newspaper that he came up with the idea for Rainbow Loom in 2010 after struggling to join his young daughters in making bracelets out of tiny rubber bands. 

The newspaper said his fingers were too big to stitch the colorful elastic bands together so he found a small, wooden scrub board in his basement and added rows of pushpins to it.

Ng used dental hooks to link the rubber bands together, and found he could create all sorts of geometric patterns. He then cut up old credit cards into small, C-shaped pieces to make clips to fasten the ends of the rubber bands.

Ng had emigrated to the US from Malaysia in 1991.

Last November, he quit his job at Nissan Motor Co, where he worked as a crash-test engineer.

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially granted him a patent in July.

“It’s selling like gangbusters,” Andrej Suskavcevic, president and CEO of the Craft & Hobby Association in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, said of the craze.

As part of the Toys “R” Us lawsuit, Ng is also suing LaRose Industries LLC, the creator of Cra-Z-Loom, another kit for making rubber-band bracelets.

Ng is seeking to stop Toys “R” Us from selling Cra-Z-Loom, plus unspecified damages.

LaRose Industries filed a countersuit on Aug 28 against Ng’s firm, the newspaper reported.

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