Playhouse Publishing has reached agreements with Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins settling patent infringement lawsuits filed last year against the two companies by Playhouse. Playhouse is also in talks to settle a similar suit against Charlesbridge. Playhouse sued the publishers, claiming that under two different patents it holds, it owns the rights to publish books that feature any food item that completes a book's illustrati0n (News, Dec. 24, 2001).
Although terms of the settlement were not disclosed, the agreements give the publishers the right to publish existing and future books covered by the patents. HC had no comment on the agreement, but S&S issued a statement explaining that it resolved the litigation "in order to avoid defense costs that would have substantially exceeded the cost of settlement." S&S also said it continues to dispute Playhouse's contention that its patent is valid or covers its books and further disputes that S&S's books were "in any way based upon the plaintiffs'." The company noted that it began publishing its Play Books line in 1998, beginning with the Cheerios Play Book, and that Playhouse's lawsuit was based on a patent reissued in September 2001.
Mary Ann Sabia, associate publisher at Charlesbridge, said that while Charlesbridge has been working on a settlement with Playhouse, "we have no signed agreement."