The Case Lego A,S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc.
The case Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc. is significant not only in terms of its result but also as an uncovering of the issues that can arise in the intellectual property law, and how challenging it might be to distinguish generic products and goods that were produced with the copyright infringement.
Generic toy company perspective
From the perspective of the generic toy company, both companies provide the same type of goods, but not the product itself. However, the generic product certainly cannot be the copycat of the branded company’s goods. In the case Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc., the toy construction blocks produced by Best-Lock had the same purpose but, according to the company producer, differed in their design and color.
Generic company products usually do not try to take over the market of a certain product; however, they are mostly less priced and oriented to the sector of consumers who want to pay less than a branded product costs. Therefore, more and more companies could start to produce generic goods, which would result in a price shift and change in the dynamics of competition (Hill & McDonnell, 2012). This can eventually significantly affect the profits and image of the branded company.
Some spheres of manufacture, like medicines and staple foods undergo profound regulation. However, for the new or rapidly developing markets like the games and toys industries, the regulations rely on precedents and are to be refined. Best-Lock Const. Toys claimed that any similarity of the toys was the result of the laches. However, it is a disputable issue of whether there can be any laches in the context of the copyright infringement cases (Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc., 2014).
Branded toy company perspective
The toy industry, at the moment, is ‘far from tranquil’ (Johnson, 2001, p. 383) and is holding on to every new idea or design (Clark, 2007). Even though toys are consumer products with a long history, even the well-established branded toy companies are concerned with the growing competition from generic companies. The brand name presupposes expenses on the research, inventing, and design of the new products. And those expenses should be covered from the revenues of the sales. Since generic companies do not spend their resources on the research of this kind, branded companies cannot compete with them in terms of prices.
In the case Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc., trademark and design patent protects the name and appearance of Lego’s construction blocks; however, it does not determine any restrictions concerning the creation of generic products. Lego A/S claims that the similarity between their branded toys and generic toys produced by Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc. is the question of copyright infringement since the similarity was beyond ‘the scope of the toy design to be protected’ (Cooperman & Katz, 2005, par.3).
From the perspective of potential consumers, the most significant question is, whether the generic product meets the same quality standards as the branded one does. Consumer behavior today is guided, of course, not only by the price rates. Furthermore, such product as toys receives special attention regarding their safety (Greenfield, 1991). Parents are and will be concerned about the quality more than the price of the product; however, many generic brands have shown that they guarantee the quality with their name on the product package no less than the branded companies do. Thus, the toys and games market is not quite at the moment, and consumer behavior depends on several factors, including prices, quality and safety standards, etc.
Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc. Case
The subject of the case Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc. is not sensational because there are more than a lot of cases concerning intellectual property rights. However, this case contributes to distinguishing the disadvantages and malfunctions in the regulating issue of copyright infringement in the toys industry.
The first issue that we are drawn attention to is the question of whether the doctrine of laches may be used as a claim for damages in the case of copyright infringement (Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc., 2014). The participants did not completely clarify the issue, since because of the pervasive precedent both the plaintiff and the defendant need to understand how the issue of the laches can affect the case at the remedial stage (Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc., 2014). Thus, the scope of what is to be considered laches in a case of infringement, and how they can affect the case in extraordinary circumstances, is a major intellectual property law question that needs regulating. Another fact that was revealed at the court and that can influence the result of the case is whether it is possible to determine the time between the date Lego A/S found out about the possible infringement and the date the company filed the case, and how and to whose advantage to using all this information. On the other hand, the positive side of the case result is the dependence of the terms of remedy on the actions of both the plaintiff and the defendant.
In conclusion, the toy industry market is highly competitive at the moment. The generic companies that can offer lower prices challenge well-established branded toy companies. However, the representatives of different consumer profiles, while buying toys, have different priorities including prices, quality guaranteed by the trademark, and meeting the safety standards.
Clark, E. (2007). The real toy story. London, U.K.: Black Swan.
Cooperman, M., & Katz, R. (2005). Three Things You Should Know to Protect Your Toy Designs. TD Monthly, 4(1), 1-4.
Greenfield, L. (1991). Toys, children, and the toy industry in a culture of consumption, 1890-1991. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Web.
Hill, C., & McDonnell, B. (2012). Research handbook on the economics of corporate law. Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar.
Johnson, M. (2001). Learning From Toys: Lessons in Managing Supply Chain Risk from the Toy Industry. California Management Review, 43(3), 106-124.
Lego A/S v. Best-Lock Const. Toys, Inc., 3:11-CV-1586 (CSH) (United States District Court for the District of Connecticut 2014).