LEGO won a copyright infringement lawsuit against two companies in China who were manufacturing and selling toys almost identical to its LEGO Friends building blocks, branding them under the name ‘Bela’.
Earlier in 2017, the Beijing Higher Court ruled that the LEGO logo and name in Chinese were “well-known” trademarks in that area of the world. This put Lego in a better position to pursue legal action against manufacturers trying to duplicate its products.
Following the ruling, Peter Thorslund Kjær, Vice President, Legal Affairs in the LEGO Group, stated, “The ruling by the Beijing Higher Court is very important for the LEGO Group. It reflects the significant effort and investment put into marketing the LEGO brand and products towards the Chinese consumers, and it further reduces the risk that consumers in China are misled when they see the LEGO logo or the LEGO name in future. We are now in a better legal position acting against infringement of LEGO trademarks and defending our trademark portfolio.”
He continued, “We see this as a recognition of our status in China as a known and loved brand by parents and children, and we appreciate the support from the Chinese government and authorities to ensure the continued protection of millions of Chinese consumers as well as our unique trademark and logo. Since 1932 the LEGO name and the LEGO logo have been a guarantee of the highest safety and quality standards. We are committed to doing what it takes to protect children and assure parents that when a product features a LEGO logo it will offer the best quality, as well as be great fun to play with. We will continue to take action globally when we see attempts to mislead consumers and infringement of our trademarks and copyrights.”
Following the decision, the China Shantou Intermediate People’s Court confirmed 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.” Basically, the court decided that the brand is protected under Chinese “anti-unfair competition law” for “the distinctive and unique appearance of certain decorative aspects of its packing across particular product lines.”
Of the additional support, Kjær said, “We think this is very important for the continued development of a favorable business environment for all companies operating in the Chinese market.”
In the fourth quarter of last year, LEGO opened an expansive factory in Jiaxing, just south of Shanghai. The factory employed 1,200 people and was built with the purpose of producing up to 80 percent of all LEGO’s products sold in Asia. The location of the factory is designed to enable the company to gain a foothold overseas.
LEGO encourages its supporters to look for the legendary LEGO logo and LEGO name on every product they’re interested in purchasing. Buyers can also look for the LEGO name on the bricks inside the box. Every genuine LEGO element has the LEGO name on it. This will ensure they are purchasing authentic products, and not knock-offs.