A few months ago it was announced that the Chinese courts had decided to recognise LEGO® has a ‘well-known’ trademark, meaning it offer the LEGO Group the ability to tackle some of the many Chinese clone brands, which blatantly use LEGO IPs and imagery to sell cheaper poorly made products. This recent legal win for the LEGO Group means two Chinese companies must stop selling products that were clearly being passed off as LEGO products, albeit with very minor changes. This isn’t about quelling competition, the products and companies named in these legal cases are clearly using the LEGO brand as a way to sell knock-off items. Hopefully this legal win will see less clone sets appearing for sale and also protect some of the many fan built sets out there. Read the press release below for addition details.
THE LEGO GROUP WINS CASE AGAINST MANUFACTURERS OF BELA PRODUCTS IN CHINA
The LEGO Group has received a favorable decision from China Shantou Intermediate People’s Court in September holding that certain BELA products infringed upon the copyrights of the LEGO Group and that manufacturing and selling of those products constituted acts of unfair competition. It is the first time the LEGO Group has filed and won an anti-unfair competition case against imitators in China.
The case was filed against two Chinese companies, which had been manufacturing and selling products that were almost identical to LEGO® products. The decisions come into effect in November 2017.
The court decided that the two Chinese companies must stop copying the packaging and logos of LEGO products in the future, as this constitutes copyright infringement. The court also decided that the LEGO Group enjoys protection under Chinese anti-unfair competition laws for the distinctive and unique appearance of certain decorative aspects of its packaging across particular product lines (in this case, LEGO Friends), which serves the purpose of making consumers immediately recognize and associate the products with the LEGO Group.
Peter Thorslund Kjær, Vice President, Legal Affairs in the LEGO Group, said: “We are pleased with the ruling by Shantou Intermediate People’s Court, which we see as a strong indication of the continued focus on proper intellectual property protection and enforcement by the Chinese courts and responsible authorities. We think this is very important for the continued development of a favorable business environment for all companies operating in the Chinese market.”
“We will continue our efforts to ensure that parents and children are able to make informed choices when they are buying toy products, and that they are not misled by attempts by irresponsible companies to make toy products appear as something that they are not.”
The LEGO Group takes the protection of its intellectual property very seriously and takes the necessary steps to ensure that its copyrights, trademarks, patents or intellectual properties are not being violated.