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Terri Mauro

Mattel Says Nay to "SAY" Speech Supplies

By August 13, 2010

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Say, here's a word of advice for speech therapists and parent entrepreneurs: If you're planning to market materials that help children learn how to say things correctly, do not use the word "say" in the name, no matter how logical or harmless it seems. Otherwise, you may find the mighty fist of toy giant Mattel crashing down on your head.

That's what happened to Super Duper Publications, a company that creates "fun learning materials for kids with special needs." Among those materials has been a series of speech-therapy workbooks and games for kids with autism and other communication disabilities, all with the word "Say" in the names -- Fold and Say, Fish and Say, Speak It and Say It. According to an Examiner report, everything was fine, patents were obtained, no problem was suspected until the company came up with Sort and Say, and Mattel decided that sounded too much like its venerable See 'n Say to live.

Mattel has since sued Super Duper, demanding that all the products in its "Say" line be destroyed (not donated to charity, or given away to families who could use them, but destroyed) and a portion of all profits be turned over. A trial court agreed with Mattel, and so has a circuit court of appeals; Super Duper will be appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If your child has benefited from Super Duper's "Say" stuff, or you just like sticking up for the little guy, you can find out more about the company's fight against Mattel on its site Speak Up for SAY. Or do you think Mattel has a point? Share your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE: Robin Hansen, Special Education Examiner, shares Mattel's response to consumer concerns.

Photo by Terri Mauro

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August 13, 2010 at 8:31 pm
(1) sylrayj says:

Names are definitely very precious. I feel odd when I meet someone else with the same name as me, and it’s strange to find out that there’s two or three other women who share my first and last name.

That said, Mattel might actually benefit from a nice Sort and Say game. See ‘n Say scared me, with its artificial voice and the spinning-too-fast arrow, and overall I don’t have good memories of that game in the slightest. If I could confuse the See ‘n Say with the Sort and Say game, I might look upon Mattel with a smile.

Truly, I think Mattel will not win any brownie points by pursuing this. People who’ll use the Sort and Say are probably in a different demographic, at least partially, than those who will be shelling out money for the See ‘n Say. I hope they will give up this attack, particularly for such a commonly-occurring word! I can’t even post this comment without ‘Say It!’

January 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm
(2) Barb says:

mattel doesnt own the word say… next some one named Matt will be sued,,,

January 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm
(3) Steve says:

Notice how once Super Duper looses it’s appeal, that is the Supreme Court declines to hear their petition, that the SpeakUpForSay.com website disappears.

The Webber’s look for sympathy and try to rally their customers around the cloak of helping disabled kids, then drop it like a hot potato. Not so much as a “thanks for your support.” What a great company.

Read the documents of the case instead of just conjecture: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/super-duper-inc-v-mattel-inc/

February 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm
(4) Andrea says:

I am so tired of hearing SLPs or parents stand up blindly for Super Duper. I have personal experience with this company stealing my material and taking all credit not to mention money. They are SUPER DUPER unethical and try to USE the special needs community as their identity. Please think people and inform yourselves. Yes, they have colorful, glossy and some good materials but they have stolen and stomped on people to get them. Bright colored glossies does not an ethical company make. When I heard of the verdict I had one word for Super Duper: KARMA

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