We first talked with Ken Ahroni of Lucky Break Wishbone two years ago, when he notched a pivotal win in his fight against Sears and ad agency Young and Rubicam, over the plastic turkey bones they used in a promotion – which seemed a lot like the ones he had been making and selling. Today, Ahroni e-mailed to say, “After four years, we finally prevailed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.” That federal court just rejected the challenge to the $1.7 million award he had won in a copyright case first filed in early 2006; the ad agency had talked to Ahroni’s company almost a year before that about possibly using his wishbones in a Thanksgiving promotion for Sears – procuring a sample, not striking a deal, then hiring another company to produce plastic wishbones in China. (Lucky Break Wishbones are manufactured in Auburn.) From the Lucky Break news release announcing the decision (you can read it in its entirety here):
“The Ninth Circuit’s decision reaffirms the validity of Lucky Break’s claims and originality in product design,” said (Ahroni’s lawyer). “As business becomes more globalized, it will be critical that U.S. courts uphold intellectual property rights in a manner that continues to encourage innovation and creativity. This case is an excellent example of the principle in action.”
After getting the news release about his court victory, we checked with Ahroni to ask if this is indeed the end of the legal line – he says, yes, case closed. And business is good, he tells WSB – sales of his wishbones were up 10 percent in 2009 over the previous year. If you’d like to read the appeals court’s decision, here it is in its entirety (Ahroni clarifies that “not for publication” does not mean what you’d think – it’s a term referring to the decision’s future uses).