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The maker of the Super Soaker is all wet. Larami Ltd., which first unleashed the wildly popular toy water gun in 1990, hopes to blast The Ohio Art Co., manufacturer of the rival A.R.M. 4000XL, out of the market. But in a July preliminary ruling on Larami’s patent infringement suit, a New Jersey federal judge refused to grant an injunction against Ohio Art. Judge Joseph Irenas also declared that Larami’s suit will likely fail. The judge found that Ohio Art’s water gun is different from Larami’s toy in two key design aspects. While the Super Soaker has a canister for water attached to the gun, the 4000XL uses a backpack to hold water, Irenas wrote. The triggering mechanisms are also different, because the Super Soaker uses pressurized air in its water canister, while the 4000XL does not. Larami’s claims for its patents are too broad, Irenas wrote. The company “is essentially arguing that its patent covers almost every water gun that could conceivably be designed,” the judge ruled. “What Larami has really patented is a very specific method of assembling what is, in reality, old technology. Ohio Art has put together that same old technology in a different way from Larami,” Irenas wrote. A subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., Larami has dominated the toy water gun market since it unleashed the Super Soaker. The line currently accounts for approximately 60 � 80 percent of total water gun sales in the country. Ohio Art is best-known for its Etch-A-Sketch drawing toy. The 4000XL is its first attempt to enter the toy water gun market. Larami has appealed Irenas’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

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