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Cost of the Bionicle trademark.

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20 replies to this topic

#1 Offline NStephenH

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Posted Mar 08 2013 - 07:54 PM

So I was looking at the "What if Bionicle was a young adult tv show" thread and it got me thinking... How much is the Bionicle trademark worth? Specifically, how many USD would it take to put the rights to bionicle completely in Greg F's ownership, or into the public domain. I know that TLG has been very generous and allowed things like BZP, fanfics, and Greg to continue writing, but I was just wondering.

 

I don't know much about copyright law, and have no idea how to calculate the value of such a thing, but I was just curious.

 

 


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#2 Offline Gengar

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Posted Mar 08 2013 - 08:44 PM

Whoa, don't look at me for laws. But I think I read somewhere on this forum that it's like a couple thousand for 10 years, then you'd have to renew it in the States. I forgot where I seen it, but I think it was somewhere in the Bionicle Sets & Collectables or the Digital Discussion (for the site).
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#3 Offline NStephenH

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Posted Mar 08 2013 - 08:55 PM

A couple thousand for 10 years? I am not sure if that is right. I think copyright lasts for 70 years plus the life of the creator, but I don't know how that works with businesses. But what I am trying to figure out is the total cost of the entire franchise. Like, if I were to walk in to Lego headquarters, how much money would I theoretically have to offer them. I am not sure if it is even possible to calculate, but like I said, I am just wondering.


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#4 Offline fishers64

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Posted Mar 09 2013 - 01:36 AM

I'm pretty sure, thinking back to an old Greg discussion, that it would be millions of dollars. Probably not billions, but millions.
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#5 Online Jam Pot

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Posted Apr 05 2013 - 07:20 AM

I do Law at A level, but have no idea whatsoever about copyright law, aside from the "70 + life of creator" point that's already been mentioned. However, I'm pretty sure that it isn't something that the forum could afford/justify spending such a sum on.


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#6 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Apr 05 2013 - 01:31 PM

This question is somewhat irrelevant. There is no cost to the BIONICLE trademark because it's not for sale. Unless TLG expresses an interest in selling it, then it's not available for anyone to buy, and therefore has no definite cost.All in all, TLG probably has more to gain by holding onto the BIONICLE trademark than by selling it. The only people with the potential to make any significant amount of money off of it (and thus, the only people with any motivation to spend a significant amount on it) would be other toy companies, and why would TLG take the risk of having one of their very recognizable brands reappropriated by a competitor?Now, if the fans could come together to buy the trademark, then sure, they could hand it over to a TV writer, but what would that accomplish? Any writer with any strong motivation to create new BIONICLE media could just sign a contract to use the trademark under license, which would be much cheaper than buying the trademark. Owning the trademark itself wouldn't allow them any more freedom except a) allowing them to sign contracts with other companies to make merchandise (pointless; what company could make better BIONICLE merchandise than LEGO?) and b) allowing them to rewrite the story without TLG's creative input (also pointless, since nobody has anything to gain by cutting the theme off from the story that made it great in the first place).The idea of giving the trademark to Greg is laughable. Why would he even want it? It's not like it would magically give him more time to work on the storyline, or a channel through which he could publish new BIONICLE books (after all, he'd still have to find a publisher that is interested in putting them into print, and the disappointing sales of the later BIONICLE books means I doubt many would jump at the opportunity).Putting the BIONICLE trademark in the public domain would be the most wasteful option of all. Doing that would mean ANYONE could make or sell ANYTHING using the BIONICLE brand name, and it wouldn't do a thing to help BIONICLE fans. The most fans could do in that case is publish their own fan fiction in print form, but since TLG currently isn't stopping fans from writing fan fiction and posting it online, there would be absolutely nothing for the fans to gain.Overall, what you'd want to appraise would be not the trademark itself, but the contract for the TV/movie/book rights. These would be much more useful in terms of creating an avenue for generating new story than ownership of the trademark itself. However, again, there is no "cost" for such a contract unless TLG expresses an interest in selling, and currently that is not the case. You'd have to negotiate with company executives directly to find out just what they would charge/expect, and I imagine during the negotiations they'd try to point you toward one of their newer and more successful brands, since they'd have more to gain by a chance to promote the sets currently on store shelves than just a share of earnings from an ambiguous writing/media production project.

Edited by Aanchir: Rachira of Time, Apr 05 2013 - 01:33 PM.

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#7 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Apr 05 2013 - 02:19 PM

Just wanna point out a few things:

 

1) Greg is an employee of LEGO, so he likely could not purchase such rights even if it were possible (I'm not expert on whether it is or isn't, so no comment :P) and remain in their employ. Besides being a rather questionable life choice, that would rob other newer, fresher LEGO lines of his experience.

 

2) And Bionicle was a toyline primarily; that was how its success was driven. Buying individual rights (and then leaving employment :P) with no ability to manufacture toys to go along with it sounds like a losing business proposition to me. :P

 

3) Likely LEGO kept the trademark on purpose because they know Bionicle was "gold" and if and when the situation comes up where it might (might) be ripe for a return, they would probably make more on a return than on selling the rights anyways.


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#8 Offline Booker DeWitt

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Posted Apr 05 2013 - 05:49 PM

I think we should at least have a whip-round.


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#9 Offline Makuta Almanax

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Posted Apr 06 2013 - 05:03 AM

I can fully understand the points against it. In fact, I'd much rather LEGO have everything than hand over the rights themselves, even to fans. Public domaining it would most certainly be the worst possible thing that could happen - think of the knockoffs (that said we would probably see some neat masks). You'd have better luck (which is still next to nothing because I doubt lego will ever sell these) trying to get a license to manufacture/design whatever. Somehow propose to be a voluntary sub-manufacturing division or something. I think I could have worded that better but the real gold of Bionicle was the toy line. The story is good but there's not much point unless you can make your own stories by building the characters. 

 

But the overall point is Lego as a company doesn't see profit in it, so they won't remanufacture it (greedy bricks!) nor will they sell it for fear of it being reproduced by someone else (which is also stupid). I hate it, but that's what they're doing. But seriously, what's the point of hoarding things you won't use?


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#10 Offline Booker DeWitt

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Posted Apr 06 2013 - 09:14 AM

I love the way people seem to lack even a basic understanding of how these things work. It's hilarious.


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#11 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Apr 06 2013 - 12:34 PM

But the overall point is Lego as a company doesn't see profit in it, so they won't remanufacture it (greedy bricks!) nor will they sell it for fear of it being reproduced by someone else (which is also stupid). I hate it, but that's what they're doing. But seriously, what's the point of hoarding things you won't use?

How do you know they won't use it? It's not stupid -- it's both smart and perfectly in their rights. It's LEGO's invention, LEGO's line, and their prerogative.

 

I don't think you're taking the real situation into account. If LEGO itself doesn't see a profit in continuing it right now, then logically neither will anyone else (at least not if they have just taken a serious hit to the wallet in buying the rights ;)). That would mean there isn't enough demand right now. Let's face it, LEGO's the expert at this stuff, blunders and all, compared to us. If and/or when they see that conditions are right for a return, they'll probably do it "better" (overall, though likely not to us old fogies' tastes :P) than us.


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#12 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Apr 06 2013 - 12:45 PM

But seriously, what's the point of hoarding things you won't use?

I can think of several obvious answers to that question:
    [*]Preventing other people from using them against you. The last thing TLG wants is for the rights to the franchise to end up in the hands of a competitor.[*]Reducing liability. A lot of people associate BIONICLE with LEGO. By keeping the rights to the franchise, TLG can have some discretion in what gets done with them, and thus ensure that any products and media are consistent with their brand standards. If they just sold the rights to someone, then they couldn't necessarily stop that person from selling them to someone else, and who knows whose hands they'd wind up in in the end?[*]Saving them until they're actually useful. Frankly, the rights to BIONICLE are more or less useless until somebody a) actually wants them, b) can afford them, and c) has a plan for what to do with them that gets TLG's approval. TLG would probably be happy to sell someone the film rights to BIONICLE, for instance, if it were someone with a strong enough reputation who could be counted on to both produce a quality product and let TLG have creative input. Evidently, nobody has come along who fits the bill.[*]All in all, the real issue is that you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who could convince TLG that the rights to produce BIONICLE sets and media were better off in their hands than in TLG's. And is it any surprise? There's not another building toy manufacturer in the world that can claim the same kind of product quality as TLG.Moreover, it's not clear at this point if there EXISTS any way to make BIONICLE profitable again. The only way TLG could be convinced to give up the rights is if you first convinced them you could make the brand profitable. And guess what they'd do then? They'd either hire you to work on the theme under their direction or kick you out of the office and make BIONICLE profitable again on their own, since if there really is a way for it to be done then they have more than enough time, resources, and creative talent at their disposal to find that solution themselves.[/list]
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#13 Offline fishers64

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Posted Apr 06 2013 - 07:06 PM

Moreover, it's not clear at this point if there EXISTS any way to make BIONICLE profitable again. The only way TLG could be convinced to give up the rights is if you first convinced them you could make the brand profitable. And guess what they'd do then? They'd either hire you to work on the theme under their direction or kick you out of the office and make BIONICLE profitable again on their own, since if there really is a way for it to be done then they have more than enough time, resources, and creative talent at their disposal to find that solution themselves.

*claps*And if you convince Lego that you have the master plan to bring Bionicle back, you can't really lose (much). Even if they kicked you out of the office, Bionicle would still be coming back, and you still would have won. :evilgrin:Now, if you stick it out on your own, you would have to convince the skeptical public that the Bionicle you're producing is better than TLG's Bionicle. That's a rough call. The easiest way to avoid that concern is actually have TLG bring it back. :P You would have to get Lego's backing to buy the rights anyway, so why not get them to back you all the way? That's the truly devious plan - you, being a creative genius that you are, don't what to work on the particulars of plastic toy production, and marketing for your film/book series/whatever, so why not just let the world's largest toy company do it for you? Why not?That is, unless you just want money, but I don't think that is the primary concern of anyone here in bringing back Bioncle. ;) There are easier ways to make money.


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#14 Offline ToaN

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Posted Apr 08 2013 - 03:16 PM

Really, I don't think its likely Lego would sell the BIONICLE trademark.

 

However, I DO think it may be possible that someone could sign a contract with Lego, allowing one to publish BIONICLE books and comics. This isn't out of the question.

 

We wont be getting any new BIONICLE sets without Lego actually deciding to bring BIONICLE back. But I wonder how much a "Book/Comic/Canon storyline" contract would cost.


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#15 Offline Aanchir

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Posted Apr 08 2013 - 05:17 PM

Really, I don't think its likely Lego would sell the BIONICLE trademark. However, I DO think it may be possible that someone could sign a contract with Lego, allowing one to publish BIONICLE books and comics. This isn't out of the question. We wont be getting any new BIONICLE sets without Lego actually deciding to bring BIONICLE back. But I wonder how much a "Book/Comic/Canon storyline" contract would cost.

Now that's an interesting question. The issue becomes that TLG has very little to gain from this kind of arrangement if it's not promoting sets. Any income from book sales would likely be a drop in the bucket compared to sales from their actual toys, and any money they're paying you to write the books is money that could be better spent paying someone to write books that promote a current theme -- hence why Greg Farshtey isn't being paid to write for BIONICLE anymore. If you're paying THEM to let you write and publish BIONICLE books, then I imagine they'd question your sanity, and you'd probably have to agree to pay them a LOT for them to feel that such a contract is even worth their time.You'd also run up against the issue that Scholastic and Papercutz both stopped publishing BIONICLE books because they were beginning to sell extremely poorly and stores didn't want to carry them, so you might need to find an entirely new publisher, and I imagine TLG sticks with Scholastic and Papercutz for a good reason (my guess is they offer the best distribution for the lowest price, whereas other publishers might either charge more or have less widespread distribution within the U.S.).

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#16 Offline toa electro

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Posted Apr 09 2013 - 01:31 PM

If someone buys the rights I'd be happy to do a miniseries or just a film,Considering I won't deviate from storyline like how micheal bay did to tnmt
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#17 Offline Lyichir

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Posted Apr 09 2013 - 03:39 PM

If someone buys the rights I'd be happy to do a miniseries or just a film,Considering I won't deviate from storyline like how micheal bay did to tnmt

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but if Lego were to license the rights I'm sure they'd be far more willing to have someone famous and successful play fast and loose with the canon than pick an unknown director with little experience. If Lego were to try to attempt any sort of Bionicle revival without the sets, after all, they'd need to maximize their audience to make it successful. Michael Bay's TMNT, despite ignoring core concepts of the series, will probably be extremely successful. Do you know why? It's because he's one of the best action movie directors in the business, and he'll have a lot more luck appealing to the massive numbers of casual TMNT fans or non-fans with explosions and epic chase scenes than appealing to the comparatively miniscule number of hardcore fans by following the established canon to a T. Now, I have little doubt Lego would maintain some restrictions; after all, they stood their ground on the premise that there were no humans in Bionicle for the entirety of the theme's run, and I imagine they'd want to stick with that in the event of a revival. But I doubt they'd worry about the intricacies of the many-year canon if discarding some of those allowed them to better appeal to the majority of viewers.


Edited by Lyichir, Apr 09 2013 - 03:41 PM.

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#18 Offline toa electro

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Posted Apr 09 2013 - 07:14 PM

I've been in directing for 8 years now ill send you my résumé I'm not a small time director

Edited by toa electro, Apr 09 2013 - 08:34 PM.

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#19 Offline Captain Caboose

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Posted Apr 09 2013 - 07:47 PM

If the trademark costs a lot of dollars, I better put out a lot of Box Office revenue. Seeing how much it would cost for pyrotechnics, Animations, location costs, hotels.


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#20 Offline toa electro

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Posted Apr 09 2013 - 08:35 PM

Not any different from any other production
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#21 Offline Lyichir

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Posted Apr 10 2013 - 03:30 PM

I've been in directing for 8 years now ill send you my résumé I'm not a small time director

 

Forgive me, I wasn't trying to suggest you were an amateur director. My point was that, for a movie that has to succeed AS a movie (and not simply as advertising an ongoing theme), loyalty to canon may be lower on Lego's priority list than marketability, and they may want some star power behind it, rather than just experience. Appealing to existing fans and appealing to mass audiences can (sometimes unfortunately) be very different things. And unless the Bionicle sets come back as the primary income stream, Lego's going to need to focus on the latter rather than the former to make a Bionicle movie worth the investment.


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