Lego is suing an American manufacturer of child educational materials over figurines which the toymaker says infringe its trademarks and copyright.
Lego, based in Denmark, filed the suit against Connecticut-based Lakeshore Learning Materials in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut yesterday, June 10.
Lakeshore sells educational materials and children’s toys, including figurines which Lego claims are imitations of its own signature toys.
According to Lego, the potential harm to its brand from unauthorised copies of its design was “unquantifiable”.
“Selling products that infringe the Lego Group’s copyrights and trademarks will allow Lakeshore to increase its market share and sales, and enable Lakeshore to establish relationships with customers, and licensors potentially, for whom the Lego Group competes,” the complaint said.
According to Lego, Lakeshore “copied” the Danish company’s trademark-protected “Minifigure” design (US number 4,903,968) in order to produce its own figurine. The “Minifigure” figurines are also protected by two copyright registrations, Lego said.
Lego cited an “on-the-go building brick set” sold by Lakeshore which contains figurines with “striking similarities” to its own products.
Lakeshore’s figurines were likely to cause confusion as to the origin of the toys, owing to their similarity to Lego’s design, the complaint said.
Lego said that it enjoyed “invaluable” goodwill for the design owing to the company’s longstanding commercial use of the “Minifigure” mark. According to the toy manufacturer, it has generated over $1 billion internationally in revenue from products related to the mark.
“...the Minifigure Trademarks have achieved such widespread public exposure and recognition that they are distinctive and well-known and famous among the general consuming public of the United States and abroad,” the complaint said.
It is not the first time the Danish company has sued to protect its “Minifigure” design. In December, WIPR reported that Lego had filed a lawsuit against its competitor Zuru over figurines which it said were “confusingly similar” to its own.
Lego is suing Lakeshore for wilful infringement of its copyright and trademarks, false designation of origin and breach of Connecticut state trade law.
The Danish company is seeking injunctive relief and an order for the allegedly infringing figurines to be destroyed.