Long Reads

Lego’s Lost Trademark Case Is a Good Thing

My love of Lego goes back nearly as far as I can remember—Lego sets were some of the first things I saved money to buy, and one of my brother’s early sentences was him asking me to “pay dupo” with him. I’ve spent years on staff at one of the biggest Lego community websites around. Unfortunately, the Lego company has spent a lot of time (most recently in the EU) attempting to trademark the actual stud-and-tube coupling brick—essentially making it into a patent so they could prevent other companies from making their own versions.

That’s just not cool, Lego. Rather participate in the marketplace like everybody else, Lego wants to get a government-granted monopoly privilege that will allow them to prevent competing companies from making compatible bricks. It’s disappointing that they feel like they can’t compete, especially when they have numerous significant advantages. Anybody who’s found knockoffs mixed in with their bricks knows that real Lego pieces are made of superior quality materials and hold together far better than the others. There’s the better set design, and, oh, more than twenty-five years of cultivating brand recognition and a fiercely loyal fan community.

Competition in the marketplace is a good thing—if Lego thinks it’s losing its edge, it needs to step up its own efforts, not run to governments looking for protectionism. Thankfully, the European Union told them just that.

2 replies on “Lego’s Lost Trademark Case Is a Good Thing”

What are your thoughts on other manufacturers copying set designs almost exactly from LEGO, not just the pieces, but the order in which they go together?

Also, some people are stupid and think knockoffs are real LEGO, then they see the inferior quality and think LEGO is inferior too. I kid you not it happens.

If LEGO didn’t drive its margins so high in Europe though, I think there would be less of a problem.

I think that’s an important part of real tradmarks, that is, the Lego logo. Customers should be able to know that if they get something with the real Lego logo, it’s going to be quality product.

You’re right that there’s a possibility that a “moron in a hurry” would confuse any building set with Lego, but that’s not a reason for Lego to have a monopoly on interlocking bricks. They just need to make sure their logo is what people reach for, and if somebody uses a similar logo to deliberately confuse people, they’d have a case.

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