Action underway to protect Lego branding

August 16, 2023 | 09:35
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Danish toy manufacturer Lego Group and Vietnamese authorities have discussed enforcement actions and remedies that could protect the company’s intellectual property in Vietnam.
Action underway to protect Lego branding
Lego has been a household name for decades worldwide, which inevitably leads to copycat products, photo Le Toan

Zhen Yi Ng, senior manager of Lego Group in Singapore, said at a meeting with the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance (VDMS) that typical Lego-infringing products do not fall under the category of trademark infringement but copyright infringement.

Lego Group has sent out information about trademark and copyright infringement of their products, and seeks support from competent authorities in the Vietnamese market.

The group kicked off construction of a factory worth $1 billion in the southern province of Binh Duong last November. This is the first carbon-neutral plant in Vietnam, in which the first Lego products will be manufactured in the country from 2024 and exported to the entire Asia-Pacific market.

Tran Huu Linh, director general of the VDMS, said that most of the products infringing the Lego trademark on the Vietnamese market are now imported by smugglers. Through the process of inspecting and controlling the market, the information management force has not discovered domestic establishments producing similar items.

Linh stated that detecting violations related to copyright and infringement of intellectual property rights is extremely complicated. For this field, the level of punishment for this behaviour is relatively heavy and enough to deter.

“On the side of enterprises, there should be a full legal basis to be licensed by Vietnamese competent authorities,” he noted.

In a meeting in May, Do Viet Tung, external affairs director of Lego Group, said their branded products have been present in the Vietnamese market for many years and have become one of the top toy brands for people of all ages. Because of the success and huge sales of Lego in the toy market over the decades, imitation has been widespread.

“Infringement of intellectual property rights for our products has been complex and on a large scale for many years. Infringing products that are diverse in terms of categories, channels of distribution, consumption, and sale and trade may constitute trademark infringement, copyright infringement, and competition issues,” said Tung.

In 2022, the VDMS examined and sanctioned many administrative violations related to the Lego brand. The main violations are trading in smuggled goods, infringing on trademarks, and counterfeiting trademarks. Across seven cases in Hanoi, Hai Duong, and Soc Trang, over 2,400 products were seized and fines of nearly $4,219 dished out.

Lego reported that in the first quarter of 2023, it coordinated with authorities to detect and remove over 5,300 product links of infringing intellectual property on Shopee, Lazada, Tiki, and Sendo.

For example, after Lego launched a new product called Wildflower, weeks later similar products not from the company appeared on the market, confusing consumers and damaging the reputation of the business.

In Vietnam, Lego products are distributed through the MyKingdom system. The company logo has been registered for intellectual property rights in the Vietnamese market.

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