On October 2011, Lego A/S launched a lawsuit to block a Florida-based toy retailer from selling plastic figurines that allegedly infringe its copyrighted iconic yellow toy men.
Best-Lock Construction Toys Inc. sells toy brick sets with figurines that are “strikingly and substantially similar” to Lego’s Minifigures, according to the complaint. “In fact, the torso, head, arms, legs and feet of Best-Lock’s infringing figurine all have the exact dimensions and proportions as those respective parts of the Minifigure copyrights and the Minifigure figurine, and Best-Lock’s infringing figurine is the same height, width and depth as the Minifigure copyrights and the Minifigure figurine. Best-Lock sells plastic building blocks, including kits for making military and construction vehicles, through Amazon.com and Toys R Us Inc. On its website, Best-Lock claims that its toys sell for about half as much as those of the leading brand.
Even at considerably lower prices, Best-Lock products maintain a high quality standard, producing blocks that are just as safe and durable as other blocks.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction blocking Best-Lock from making or selling figurines that infringe Lego’s copyrighted Minifigures, first introduced in 1978. It calls the alleged infringement “immoral, unethical, oppressive and unscrupulous,” and claims Best-Lock’s conduct runs afoul of unfair trade practices laws.
Now again, the Lego Group slapped Big Papa’s Collectibles, an independent purveyor of knockoff versions of its iconic minifigure pieces, with a trademark infringement suit on October 7, 2016. According to Lego Group, despite multiple demand letters the operator continues to sell the pieces online and at fairs nationwide.
The privately held Danish company alleges that Thaddeus Dillon, the Connecticut-based owner of Big Papa’s, is infringing Lego’s decades-old trademark by selling pieces that are “strikingly and substantially similar to the Minifigure figurine” on a website, toy fairs and comic conventions around the country. The complaint compares side-by-side photos showing resemblances between BPC’s products and Lego’s minifigures. BPC’s sale of these products, Lego contends, is likely to cause confusion among consumers regarding BPC’s affiliation with the Danish brand.
According to Lego, Dillon and his company have been warned several times about selling the unauthorized pieces online and at specialty fairs. The suit claims copyright infringement, trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition, trademark dilution, common law trademark infringement, unfair competition and appropriation.
Keywords: Copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, Lego Group.