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Fake Lego Bionicle property


Raph
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I've always wondered, why some companies freely produce construction toys wich are replicas of lego property. For example: i saw in my store some KSZ Bionicle toys, and some chinese Lego Ninjago copycat called Ninja protectors, i think. Question is: do Lego knows about this? If so, then why do they do not react to this matter? Also, do you guys ever encountered those KSZ Bionicle in US or Europe, or they're only in my country?

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5 hours ago, Raph said:

If so, then why do they do not react to this matter?

Simply not worth their time, or they don't know about it. Also, Chinese bootlegs are nearly impossible to stop. 

Edited by Lorentz

#makeBionicleG1andHeroFactorysharethesameuniverse and #giveBionicleansHeroFactorytheirownliveactioncinematicuniverse 
GENERATION 5: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

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Legal issues would complicate it too. I think you only have standing to sue a company in a country where they actually do business. If a company is only selling products in one country, then you have to be sure that they're violating the law of that country, and then hire lawyers and probably interpreters to represent you there.

GENERATION 4: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

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  • 6 months later...

I read in Wikipedia that LEGO were trying to legally fight with copycats, but due to the fact that all of LEGO patents have expired, that answers my question pretty much fine. There is no legal way to somehow sue other companies, exept the fact that they use word Bionicle, which is trademark of Lego.

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On 8/12/2022 at 5:48 AM, Raph said:

I read in Wikipedia that LEGO were trying to legally fight with copycats, but due to the fact that all of LEGO patents have expired, that answers my question pretty much fine. There is no legal way to somehow sue other companies, exept the fact that they use word Bionicle, which is trademark of Lego.

In the case of what Wikipedia is mentioning its the patent for the original Lego brick. Patents in US law at least only last 20 years, with the possibility to extend it somewhat through new innovations. Patents are meant to expire, to allow the inventor a brief monopoly but then allow competition by recreating specific parts. Lego has tried to fight imitators, but if copycat systems aren't using any active Lego patents there is nothing stopping them from recreating basic 2x4 or 2x2 bricks quite easily and legally. Hence why Mega Construct/Blocks is a thing for example. In theory any patents for Bionicle pieces that Lego made in the late 1990's or early 2000's now might be expired so legally speaking, if one was aware of what patents were tied to Bionicle it would be 100% possible to recreate those parts.

BUT, patents cover mechanical designs and IP of constructs. IP gets hazier in regards to the creative ideals. Copyright for example covers individual creative works, so in the case of Lego it would cover Bionicle's comics, games, books and music, etc. The law in the US at least traditionally covers the author's lifetime and then 70 years after their death. Upon the expiration of that time those works can enter public domain. So while we might have some expired patents to recreate Bionicle parts legally, we cannot say market those parts by including say "Each copy of our Bionicle bootlegs comes with a disk with Legends of Metru-Nui on it" since that is still protected under active copyright law.

The strongest element in Bionicle's arsenals of IP protection though is trademark. Trademark if in active use, can be extended indefinitely. Ever wonder why, even in years with zero Bionicle sets the reason Lego continues to include Bionicle references in their stickers, mentions Bionicle on social media or includes this disclaimer at the end of their website?

image.thumb.png.e1512636fe11003ab2ae4c84fbd8c240.png

Simple, in a legal court that proves Lego is maintaining the trademark to Bionicle. Bionicle is in active use, even with no new sets in the theme because Lego can prove they are still using the name somehow. As long as they do such in the US law, Bionicle will be protected forever. 

So in the year 2074, when all the patents are expired and we can include a copy of the "public domain" Legends of Metru-Nui with our Bionicle knockoff, we still can't call it a Bionicle set because if Lego is savvy and still active they will have the trademark still! 

Now this comes with a caveat, I have mentioned already "as in US law." Similar laws exist in Europe and other parts of the world, but China has no such law or at least refuses to really enforce it. So, the knock-offs continue regardless. Sure Lego could attempt to have ports inspect cargo and seize and destroy any inbound knock-off sets into the US or Europe, but that is really such a time consuming process its not worth their time. As for enforcing it in China itself, its near impossible although Lego has tried to shut down some of the bigger knock-off brands.

But, ironically that same Lego disdain towards chasing knock-offs is the same thing that protects a lot of fan creations. Every piece of fan art, those custom resin masks from Socketball or Zios, those fan Bionicle t-shirts and stickers, etc... every single one of them is likely in violation of trademark, copyright or patent law (or all three!) Lego's decision not to pursue legal action against those creations is more a sign of good faith than anything, and an understanding that some guy making $100 on a fan t-shirt set is not any sort of competition to the multi-million industry Lego runs. Arguably the only ones that fall under a "fair use" argument is something like BioMediaProject since you could argue there is an "educational" and "research" reason to preserve the media there, but if they ever decided to start selling say MNOG on a disk Lego would hit them with a lawsuit fast. But everybody in the fan community needs to understand that the only reason we get away with it is because Lego just views it as too small to compete with them and ruin their finances, just like those knock-off bricks. 

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On 8/22/2022 at 11:15 PM, Xboxtravis said:

In the case of what Wikipedia is mentioning its the patent for the original Lego brick. Patents in US law at least only last 20 years, with the possibility to extend it somewhat through new innovations. Patents are meant to expire, to allow the inventor a brief monopoly but then allow competition by recreating specific parts. Lego has tried to fight imitators, but if copycat systems aren't using any active Lego patents there is nothing stopping them from recreating basic 2x4 or 2x2 bricks quite easily and legally. Hence why Mega Construct/Blocks is a thing for example. In theory any patents for Bionicle pieces that Lego made in the late 1990's or early 2000's now might be expired so legally speaking, if one was aware of what patents were tied to Bionicle it would be 100% possible to recreate those parts.

BUT, patents cover mechanical designs and IP of constructs. IP gets hazier in regards to the creative ideals. Copyright for example covers individual creative works, so in the case of Lego it would cover Bionicle's comics, games, books and music, etc. The law in the US at least traditionally covers the author's lifetime and then 70 years after their death. Upon the expiration of that time those works can enter public domain. So while we might have some expired patents to recreate Bionicle parts legally, we cannot say market those parts by including say "Each copy of our Bionicle bootlegs comes with a disk with Legends of Metru-Nui on it" since that is still protected under active copyright law.

The strongest element in Bionicle's arsenals of IP protection though is trademark. Trademark if in active use, can be extended indefinitely. Ever wonder why, even in years with zero Bionicle sets the reason Lego continues to include Bionicle references in their stickers, mentions Bionicle on social media or includes this disclaimer at the end of their website?

image.thumb.png.e1512636fe11003ab2ae4c84fbd8c240.png

Simple, in a legal court that proves Lego is maintaining the trademark to Bionicle. Bionicle is in active use, even with no new sets in the theme because Lego can prove they are still using the name somehow. As long as they do such in the US law, Bionicle will be protected forever. 

So in the year 2074, when all the patents are expired and we can include a copy of the "public domain" Legends of Metru-Nui with our Bionicle knockoff, we still can't call it a Bionicle set because if Lego is savvy and still active they will have the trademark still! 

Now this comes with a caveat, I have mentioned already "as in US law." Similar laws exist in Europe and other parts of the world, but China has no such law or at least refuses to really enforce it. So, the knock-offs continue regardless. Sure Lego could attempt to have ports inspect cargo and seize and destroy any inbound knock-off sets into the US or Europe, but that is really such a time consuming process its not worth their time. As for enforcing it in China itself, its near impossible although Lego has tried to shut down some of the bigger knock-off brands.

But, ironically that same Lego disdain towards chasing knock-offs is the same thing that protects a lot of fan creations. Every piece of fan art, those custom resin masks from Socketball or Zios, those fan Bionicle t-shirts and stickers, etc... every single one of them is likely in violation of trademark, copyright or patent law (or all three!) Lego's decision not to pursue legal action against those creations is more a sign of good faith than anything, and an understanding that some guy making $100 on a fan t-shirt set is not any sort of competition to the multi-million industry Lego runs. Arguably the only ones that fall under a "fair use" argument is something like BioMediaProject since you could argue there is an "educational" and "research" reason to preserve the media there, but if they ever decided to start selling say MNOG on a disk Lego would hit them with a lawsuit fast. But everybody in the fan community needs to understand that the only reason we get away with it is because Lego just views it as too small to compete with them and ruin their finances, just like those knock-off bricks. 

Thanks for such a detailed response. Indeed it is ironical that it protects some fans. But my thought, if we may call it that way, is not that i want for LEGO to somehow press on fans who use thier products to print aforementionet prints for example. It's just for me as a fan of original BIONICLE series, is somewhat unpleasant to see that they are faking them. I mean, they can produce something on thier own. Why duplicate that, which is already exists? Only because it is simplier? Whell, if that makes some of them comfortable.....

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7 hours ago, Raph said:

I mean, they can produce something on thier own. Why duplicate that, which is already exists?

Copying other people's success is the easiest way of making money. Just look at Apple, Tesla, (and also Edison, lol), most fast food restaurants, etc.

#makeBionicleG1andHeroFactorysharethesameuniverse and #giveBionicleansHeroFactorytheirownliveactioncinematicuniverse 
GENERATION 5: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

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