Copyright victory for Lego in China

Reuters
Lego has won a landmark case in China against two companies that manufactured and sold toys almost identical to its LEGO Friends range but branded Bela, the Danish toymaker said.
Reuters

Lego has won a landmark case in China against two companies that manufactured and sold toys almost identical to its LEGO Friends range but branded Bela, the Danish toymaker said.

It is the first time that Lego has succeeded in a copyright competition case in China, where copies of its colorful bricks and figures have been a recurrent problem as it seeks to gain share in the multibillion-dollar toys and games market.

Earlier this year, the Beijing Higher Court passed a ruling that recognized the Lego logo and name in Chinese as “well-known” trademarks in China, putting the toymaker in a better position to act against infringement of its trademarks.

China Shantou Intermediate People’s Court had ruled that certain Bela products infringed upon Lego copyrights and that manufacturing and selling those products constituted “acts of unfair competition,” Lego said yesterday.

The court also decided that Lego is protected under Chinese “anti-unfair competition law” for “the distinctive and unique appearance of certain decorative aspects of its packaging across particular product lines (in this case, LEGO Friends).”

Capturing the imaginations of Chinese children with its bricks is key to reviving growth for the unlisted company after disappointing revenues in its core United States and European markets brought an end to a decade-long sales boom.

Lego, whose name is derived from the Danish “leg godt” meaning “play well,” is competing with Barbie maker Mattel and Hasbro, the firm behind My Little Pony, for a slice of the Chinese market.

The case was filed against two Chinese firms, which have been manufacturing and selling Bela products almost identical to Lego’s.

“We think this is very important for the continued development of a favorable business environment for all companies operating in the Chinese market,” said Peter Thorslund Kjaer, Lego’s vice president of legal affairs.

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