Toymaker Lego wins Chinese copyright case against brick imitators

Lego has won a landmark case in China against two companies that produced and sold toys nearly 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 circumstance in China, where copies of its colorful bricks and numbers have been a recurrent trouble as it seeks to get share in the $31 billion toys and game titles market.

Earlier this season, the Beijing Higher Court passed a ruling that recognized the Lego emblem and brand in Chinese mainly because ‘well-known’ trademarks in China, positioning the toymaker in an improved position to do something against infringement of its trademarks.

The China Shantou Intermediate People’s Court had ruled that “particular Bela products infringed upon the copyrights of the Lego Group and that developing and selling of these products constituted acts of unfair competition”, Lego said in a statement on Thursday.

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

Capturing the imaginations of Chinese kids with its bricks is paramount to reviving growth pertaining to the unlisted company after disappointing revenues in its core U.S. and European market segments has brought an end to a decade-long product sales boom.

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

The case was filed against two Chinese companies, which have been production and selling Bela products that were almost identical to Lego’s. They will now have to stop copying Lego’s product packaging and logos, it said.

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

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