In 2018, Warner announced a partnership with Kano to release a Harry Potter coding wand that brought the magical world of the franchise to life.
Now Alex Klein, the cofounder and CEO of Kano, claims the studio, which controls the intellectual property of the Harry Potter brand, has infringed on Kano’s technology to develop a new smart magic wand.
Klein alleges that after discussions with Warner fell flat, the company took the intellectual property belonging to Kano to launch a competing wand, called the Harry Potter Magic Caster Wand.
He claims it is a messed up scenario for a small company as it has been really ripped off by a big outfit.
Warner insists the claims are without merit and its development of the Magic Caster Wand has nothing to do with Kano’s allegedly confidential information and did not involve any improper use of Kano’s allegedly confidential information.
In 2018 Kano partnered with Warner to create a Harry Potter coding wand, which included Kano’s programmable wand technology that could be used within an app-based Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and controlled objects and interactive elements within an app designed by Kano.
Emails from 2018 and 2019 show Warner was highly excited about the potential of the wand and its underlying technology. It wanted to miniaturising the technology, so it could be used at the in-person Harry Potter experiences at Leavesden, England, and Universal Studios in the United States.
The two companies agreed on a conventional licensing agreement, according to Klein: Kano paid for the product, its marketing, manufacture, and supply. In exchange, Warner gave Kano the right to use the Harry Potter IP and the likeness of its characters throughout the product. Kano paid Warner more than $1.3 million under the agreement.
Following its 2018 launch, Klein claims the company has sold more than 230,000 units of the original wand (priced at $99 per wand) between July 2018 and October 2021, then spawned a number of related products using the same technology with Star Wars and Frozen IP that sold 450,000 units collectively.
Kano patented the technology in July 2019, Klein says, because “we knew it would be valuable.” But before that patent, in January 2019, Klein and Kano representatives met with Sijia Wang, Warner then-director of corporate business development and strategy. In that meeting, Klein says Kano presented a proposal that would enable the wand to control more products beyond a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
The idea was that you could use the wand for the Internet of Things to turn on lights, open doors, start Ford Anglias, and security passes.
Kano flew out its team and showed Warner component diagrams of how the wand worked, but the moment he did this the relationship changed. Warner wanted a design agency to work with Kano on the product. Then it wanted to bring in other people. , he says.
Warner underwent a reorganisation and a new staff member came in and decided to bring in a new partner on the project and The Harry Potter Magic Caster Wand opened for preorders in October 2022 and shipped in early December, without Kano’s involvement. “Or consent,” adds Klein. “And it uses multiple aspects of the technology of our wand.”
Warner says it has done no such thing. It claimed it was thinking along those lines long before Kano showed up.