Jump to content

Brick Wars - Anyone outside Germany taking notice?


Recommended Posts

Just now, Frank Brickowski said:

How could they already be buying more when most of them have only gotten to know about the alternatives in the first place? 

Your arguments are just really bad fanboy talk and I won't answer to this kind of stuff anymore. I'm not related to BlueBrixx, it's just they're the biggest alternatives store and the only one (right now) with own exclusive sets. I could name other shops like Steingemachtes, Freakware etc., too, but they are smaller and have a smaller range.

I am just here for the money. I build one set since my childhood and that is only due to a  return. I would sell bluebrixx as well, but for now i am sticking to what is working.

For me it seems you are more of a fanboy and now Bye Bye

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

 I'm simply describing the situation in Germany. It's the people that are angry.

In a free market society such as yours, the market usually decides the winner. Many name brand items have generic knock-offs of the same quality, yet people pick the known brand, even if it's more expensive.

If the people of Germany are truly angry (lots of anger if they are pissed off about plastic blocks), they will make another of these brands the favorite, forcing Lego to evolve, leave the market, or forfeit their market share.

As far as "If it's sold in the US, it's legal", is somewhat true. You aren't going to jail for it, but you can also be sued into oblivion. If you go to USPTO website, you can see exactly how much stuff is trademarked. This includes Logos and words. It's pretty extensive.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

47 minutes ago, iahawks550 said:

In a free market society such as yours, the market usually decides the winner. Many name brand items have generic knock-offs of the same quality, yet people pick the known brand, even if it's more expensive.

If the people of Germany are truly angry (lots of anger if they are pissed off about plastic blocks), they will make another of these brands the favorite, forcing Lego to evolve, leave the market, or forfeit their market share.

As far as "If it's sold in the US, it's legal", is somewhat true. You aren't going to jail for it, but you can also be sued into oblivion. If you go to USPTO website, you can see exactly how much stuff is trademarked. This includes Logos and words. It's pretty extensive.

Right. But it's just that not EVERY design and word out there IS actually protected. Some thing simply cannot be protected (for different reasons), for some things the holder had no interest or forgot about registering (see the recently missing "Razor Crest" protection in Europe). One German retailer/YouTuber is in fact releasing videos about the different trademark/copyright/design protections to educate his followers so they better know what LEGO is demanding from him and others and why they're just wrong about some of the things they demand (expired patent, missing patent, generic design that cannot be protected at all, expired design protection, missing similarity of accused products etc.).

Most of this is going to court and LEGO very certainly will take damage from this, too. Not only reputation-wise but also because they'll likely lose ground significantly by getting the confirmation that many of the things they are demanding and have been demanding in the past just don't apply (anymore).

Edited by Frank Brickowski
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Thanks for your detailed take on it. A lot of what you say is right. In the end all that matter is: If you have been selling these sets in Germany for over 2 years as a big company like BlueBrixx is, they must be legal. But first of all the founder of BlueBrixx is a toy/model bulding veteran having succeeded in court against Volkswagen before regarding car models - he knows perfectly what you can and what you cannot do according to all laws involved. And if you can sell these sets in Germany, you can also sell them in the US. I don't know we people seem to think that something that's legally sold in Germany could be illegal in the US. There might be special examples where this is the case. But not when it's about design or copyright or the like. German and US laws are pretty much the same in this field.

Your assessment about copyright laws in Germany (EU) being similar or same as USA while in functionality might be true, they are completely different laws.  Otherwise, Europe would be seeing Razor Crest LEGO sets just like we are in the USA. 

I can tell you that the images I saw on the Bluebrixx website would not fly in the USA.  And even if Bluebrixx could win the court case (unlikely in USA), USA corporations would make sure to destroy Bluebrixx in litigation and bankrupt them before allowing them to use anything that resembles their property without proper licensing.  (Keep in mind, we're not talking about just one corporation but multiple).  

BTW, you're assumption that because a company has been doing something therefore they are legit, is presumptuous.  A toy company can avoid attention until they can't.  Example: Modbrix.  How many of us had ever heard of this company before someone there copyrighted the name "Razor Crest" or better put, Disney / Lucasfilm tried to do the right thing and found someone else had beat them to it?  I believe this is how Bluebrixx has been avoiding attention, they aren't using the names, just images.  But in some cases (new sets) they are using the name, so how long until they are in the news?

Modbrix had copyrighted the name and image of the Razor Crest 30 days before Disney filed paperwork to do the same.  Now, I'm reading that Modbrix produced the brick set without the original designer's permission, nor was the original designer receiving any compensation from the sale of said brick set.  They apparently rectified this after the fact, but that should never have happened.  This is the same kind of junk the Chinese knock-off brick companies pull and not just with LEGO, but with rebrickable and LEGO ideas designers as well.  This is not cool on multiple levels.

Update: As of last Friday, Lucasfilm now officially owns the "Razor Crest" name in Europe and Modbrix is no longer selling their Razor Crest brick set.  https://www.stonewars.de/news/razor-crest-wortmarke-deutschland/

 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

55 minutes ago, Mark Twain said:

It's nice to know that Disney, being the massive international operation that it is, has it's own email for copyright infringement: [email protected]disneyantipiracy.com

 

If I were you I'd give it a try. The German alternative brick market will only profit massively from another PR disaster of one of the big ones (this time Disney).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

28 minutes ago, exracer327 said:

Update: As of last Friday, Lucasfilm now officially owns the "Razor Crest" name in Europe and Modbrix is no longer selling their Razor Crest brick set.  https://www.stonewars.de/news/razor-crest-wortmarke-deutschland/

 

Which just tells me one thing: it's all about the money.

Which is completely obvious, and you're not making any incorrect statements.  I'm not surprised at all by your news.  I'm sure Modbrix was holding out for a nice payday, and they got it.

Which is also the point about this thread, imo.  Bashing LEGO because they're trying to maximize profit is just silly.  That's every company's goal.

How many years did we sit here and wonder why LEGO didn't go after the Chinese brands.  And then finally did.  Because it was finally more cost effective to go after them, and put a stop to it.  It was eating too much into their profit.  And they wanted to expand into China.

Quote

USA corporations would make sure to destroy Bluebrixx in litigation and bankrupt them before allowing them to use anything that resembles their property without proper licensing

Summed up nicely.  Even if it's perfectly legal, the deeper pockets can bankrupt someone until they can't defend themselves anymore.

And this isn't new.  Just look at DC Comics vs Fawcett Comics, from the 1940s and 1950s.  Captain Marvel (Shazam) far outsold Superman in the 40s.  But DC Comics sued and sued and sued Fawcett claiming that Captain Marvel was a direct ripoff of Superman.  When the case was finally settled 10 years later, Fawcett was out of money, and closed up shop.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, exracer327 said:

Your assessment about copyright laws in Germany (EU) being similar or same as USA while in functionality might be true, they are completely different laws.  Otherwise, Europe would be seeing Razor Crest LEGO sets just like we are in the USA. 

I can tell you that the images I saw on the Bluebrixx website would not fly in the USA.  And even if Bluebrixx could win the court case (unlikely in USA), USA corporations would make sure to destroy Bluebrixx in litigation and bankrupt them before allowing them to use anything that resembles their property without proper licensing.  (Keep in mind, we're not talking about just one corporation but multiple).  

BTW, you're assumption that because a company has been doing something therefore they are legit, is presumptuous.  A toy company can avoid attention until they can't.  Example: Modbrix.  How many of us had ever heard of this company before someone there copyrighted the name "Razor Crest" or better put, Disney / Lucasfilm tried to do the right thing and found someone else had beat them to it?  I believe this is how Bluebrixx has been avoiding attention, they aren't using the names, just images.  But in some cases (new sets) they are using the name, so how long until they are in the news?

Modbrix had copyrighted the name and image of the Razor Crest 30 days before Disney filed paperwork to do the same.  Now, I'm reading that Modbrix produced the brick set without the original designer's permission, nor was the original designer receiving any compensation from the sale of said brick set.  They apparently rectified this after the fact, but that should never have happened.  This is the same kind of junk the Chinese knock-off brick companies pull and not just with LEGO, but with rebrickable and LEGO ideas designers as well.  This is not cool on multiple levels.

Update: As of last Friday, Lucasfilm now officially owns the "Razor Crest" name in Europe and Modbrix is no longer selling their Razor Crest brick set.  https://www.stonewars.de/news/razor-crest-wortmarke-deutschland/

 

>Otherwise, Europe would be seeing Razor Crest LEGO sets just like we are in the USA. 

This is due to the fact that protection is limited by territory, not because of the difference in laws.

>I can tell you that the images I saw on the Bluebrixx website would not fly in the USA.

I doubt it. I wonder what would keep US companies from sueing BlueBrixx in Germany. Most of them have German headquarters or could sue them without any German base nonetheless. So, why don't they just do it? Maybe beacuse there is nothing to sue them about...

>I believe this is how Bluebrixx has been avoiding attention, they aren't using the names, just images.  But in some cases (new sets) they are using the name, so how long until they are in the news?

No, they are NOT using any protected images or names at all. This is why it works. ONLY this way.

>Update: As of last Friday, Lucasfilm now officially owns the "Razor Crest" name in Europe and Modbrix is no longer selling their Razor Crest brick set

Yeah, I know. And now that using the name would be illegal, they don't use it anymore.

Edited by Frank Brickowski
Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, Alpinemaps said:

Which just tells me one thing: it's all about the money.

Which is completely obvious, and you're not making any incorrect statements.  I'm not surprised at all by your news.  I'm sure Modbrix was holding out for a nice payday, and they got it.

Which is also the point about this thread, imo.  Bashing LEGO because they're trying to maximize profit is just silly.  That's every company's goal.

How many years did we sit here and wonder why LEGO didn't go after the Chinese brands.  And then finally did.  Because it was finally more cost effective to go after them, and put a stop to it.  It was eating too much into their profit.  And they wanted to expand into China.

Summed up nicely.  Even if it's perfectly legal, the deeper pockets can bankrupt someone until they can't defend themselves anymore.

And this isn't new.  Just look at DC Comics vs Fawcett Comics, from the 1940s and 1950s.  Captain Marvel (Shazam) far outsold Superman in the 40s.  But DC Comics sued and sued and sued Fawcett claiming that Captain Marvel was a direct ripoff of Superman.  When the case was finally settled 10 years later, Fawcett was out of money, and closed up shop.

>Bashing LEGO because they're trying to maximize profit is just silly. That's every company's goal.

If LEGO was ONLY trying to maximize profit, there would be no problem at all (in Germany). But they are trying to hurt/contain the legal competition at the same time - that's what German brick fans don't like for a reason. That reason being their dear right of freely deciding what you're going to buy. LEGO would like to keep them being their ONLY option for spending brick money. German AFOBs like to have a real choice and being offered sets they actually demand. That's why they dislike what LEGO does.

>How many years did we sit here and wonder why LEGO didn't go after the Chinese brands. 

This comparison is invalid because the brands we are talking NOW are all LEGAL. I don't know how many times I have to repeat this. Things have changed at a dramatic speed in the last 2 years. If you didn't follow what was happening, you of course don't know anything about this. They're legal and their quality has risen just as dramatically. That's why LEGO is seeking to hurt them now IN Germany. But it's too late anyway - they should have reacted way earlier by actually making their own products better and listening to the demands of the community.

By the way, everyone knew it would not be the best decision for LEGO to transfer production to China. Everyone knew what would happen but they did it anyway. Then they experienced what every other company going to China experiences, too. First there were illegal knock-offs. Now there are a lot of perfectly legal brands using the production knowledge LEGO was so nice to bring into their country although every sane advisor told them otherwise. This is a monster LEGO created single-handedly by their own greed for profit. 

Edited by Frank Brickowski
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Genuine query, on the Blue Brixx site, why are the sets that are "clever" designs but are skirting close to IP infringement ( like the Alien stuff, Ferrari, Land Rover etc) all say not sold in stores, but all the other generic stuff like train sheds etc are sold in German stores ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, exracer327 said:

I believe this is how Bluebrixx has been avoiding attention, they aren't using the names, just images.  But in some cases (new sets) they are using the name, so how long until they are in the news?

If BlueBrixx wanted to "hide" a product they officially sell on their website - which sounds like complete (business) nonsense in the first place - they wouldn't actually make a YouTube video about said product, would they? Oh wait, but that's just what they did...

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, roxio said:

Genuine query, on the Blue Brixx site, why are the sets that are "clever" designs but are skirting close to IP infringement ( like the Alien stuff, Ferrari, Land Rover etc) all say not sold in stores, but all the other generic stuff like train sheds etc are sold in German stores ?

The big black Alien for instance is being sold in stores, no other info on the site. Many other "clever" designs are being sold in stores, too. Just don't limit your seach to only find the ones that are not. And even some of the BB-exclusive agricultural sets officially licensed by German agricultural company "Amazone" and their licensed exclusives of "Das Schwarze Auge" game are "not sold in stores". This is simply due to limited production capacity and limited store capacity (and huge demand). Since they offer thousands of different sets, this is only logical. So next question. 

Edited by Frank Brickowski
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't really want to get into a he said/she said internet argument, I prefer to stick to the part that is related to investing in LEGO. But I will say that this topic has sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole and from what I've seen Bluebrixx isn't exactly on the moral high-ground with accusations of them stealing designs from independent moc makers (or selling the stolen designs) without payment, or only paying after being discovered and then refusing to stop selling the designs when asked.

Nothing is black and white, so its likely impossible to know exactly what has transpired here, but it all seems unnecessarily toxic if you ask me.

Read for yourself here

Having said all that I will just reiterate what I said before, in the U.S. copyright, trademark and fair use laws create a complex web that even the courts have difficulty navigating. So I question anyone who pretends to say anything about it with absolute authority on an internet forum unless they are a lawyer. Its true that some things cannot be copyrighted- i.e. the overall design of a car may not be copyrighted, but the name and logo of the car company can, the specific shape of a component on the car can, a transformer character based on that car can and an action figure of that transformer can be protected under trademark. Something does not have to look exactly like something else to infringe on copyright or trademarks either, see Superman vs. Wonderman. 

 It may be true that LEGO is losing sales, but a real change won't happen until you see these alternative brands (or more realistically, one good strong alternative brand) being sold in national or multinational retail outlets, which given the legal implications in this example, and lack of market share for Mega Blocks/Mega Constructs, COBI, Oxford, et al, I don't think is likely. Even then brand loyalty would probably buoy LEGO for a few years as the frontrunner in this niche of the toy market.

Don't forget that LEGO is still primarily a children's toy, even if AFOLs, or AFOBs have become a larger segment of the market. Kids don't care if one model of a Ferrari has stickers or not (in fact some kids love the sticker aspect) or has gaps, or a functioning gearshift, they care if they can get it for Christmas. The things that the LEGO group has to offer, and many alternative brands struggle with matter to the experience a child has with a toy.

Edited by tyskr28
spelling
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Frank Brickowski said:

If BlueBrixx wanted to "hide" a product they officially sell on their website - which sounds like complete (business) nonsense in the first place - they wouldn't actually make a YouTube video about said product, would they? Oh wait, but that's just what they did...

That Bluebrixx has done videos does not make it legal nor prove anything.  Quite frankly, all it takes is the right (or wrong) person to see the image and report it to the company who owns the image and it's lights out.

Example.  A friend of mine is an excellent artist.  About fifteen years ago he worked for a Christian organization that produced Gospel tracts.  He hand drew a likeness of Curious George.  He did not trace the monkey, he did not even look at a drawing when he drew it.  It was clearly a hand drawn image of a monkey.  At first glance, you would totally think it was Curious George.

The company who owns the rights to Curious George found out about the Gospel tract.  About nine months after they initially used the Gospel tract (in dozens of cities throughout the USA with tens-of-thousands having been handed out) they received a cease and desist order from the lawyers representing the company owning the rights to Curious George.  The charge was copyright infringement. 

My friend's organization fought against the charge since the company did not own the rights to all monkeys and it was proven that there was no mimicking of the Curious George image either.  However, there was enough similarities between the images that the company continually perused it.  In the end, my friend's organization agreed to destroy all copies of the Gospel tract because it was just too expensive to fight it in court.

So Bluebrixx is getting away with it... for now.  But by all means keep promoting them and I'm sure someone in the USA who cares will take notice.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some have a disdain for legal loopholes protecting or not protecting IP...the "legal" arguments don't sway this opinion.  I'm in this boat.

And it's not all black and white: If you copy, you are wrong (to some extent).  No, i didn't let other cheat off my tests in school...altho I did let some "cool kids" copy my homework a few times.

Edited by $20 on joe vs dan
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, exracer327 said:

That Bluebrixx has done videos does not make it legal nor prove anything.  Quite frankly, all it takes is the right (or wrong) person to see the image and report it to the company who owns the image and it's lights out.

Example.  A friend of mine is an excellent artist.  About fifteen years ago he worked for a Christian organization that produced Gospel tracts.  He hand drew a likeness of Curious George.  He did not trace the monkey, he did not even look at a drawing when he drew it.  It was clearly a hand drawn image of a monkey.  At first glance, you would totally think it was Curious George.

The company who owns the rights to Curious George found out about the Gospel tract.  About nine months after they initially used the Gospel tract (in dozens of cities throughout the USA with tens-of-thousands having been handed out) they received a cease and desist order from the lawyers representing the company owning the rights to Curious George.  The charge was copyright infringement. 

My friend's organization fought against the charge since the company did not own the rights to all monkeys and it was proven that there was no mimicking of the Curious George image either.  However, there was enough similarities between the images that the company continually perused it.  In the end, my friend's organization agreed to destroy all copies of the Gospel tract because it was just too expensive to fight it in court.

So Bluebrixx is getting away with it... for now.  But by all means keep promoting them and I'm sure someone in the USA who cares will take notice.

I get what you mean but some random person drawing something somewhere is actually not at all visible for anyone. BlueBrixx is a big company in full public visibility advertising everything they sell everywhere they can - that's the direct opposite of hiding. So it's near impossible for any rights owner to NOT quickly notice them selling something he owns the rights to. It's MUCH more probable the other way round: There is just nothing illegal going on.
Sorry, but how can you claim BB is "getting away with it" without knowing anything about actual copyrights/trademarks/designs involved or not involved. Like I said, lots of things, especially designs, are simply not protected at all. So most of the time you'll be completely fine by just NOT using any names. They've been selling the alien sets for 2 years now - I mean what backyard operating company would NOT have taken notice after this long period of time by all means? But like I said: It's much more probable they are simply acting legal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, $20 on joe vs dan said:

Some have a disdain for legal loopholes protecting or not protecting IP...the "legal" arguments don't sway this opinion.  I'm in this boat.

And it's not all black and white: If you copy, you are wrong (to some extent).  No, i didn't let other cheat off my tests in school...altho I did let some "cool kids" copy my homework a few times.

Alright, then apply the same jurisdiction to LEGO, please (see below). But I know, of course that's all just coincidences. Yeah, like 8 coincidences in fact... how many of those does it take to actually make it intentional? I don't know, maybe you do.

image.png.238c5c81d22be5461639efc7befab395.png
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, tyskr28 said:

 It may be true that LEGO is losing sales, but a real change won't happen until you see these alternative brands (or more realistically, one good strong alternative brand) being sold in national or multinational retail outlets, which given the legal implications in this example, and lack of market share for Mega Blocks/Mega Constructs, COBI, Oxford, et al, I don't think is likely. Even then brand loyalty would probably buoy LEGO for a few years as the frontrunner in this niche of the toy market.

 

That's exactly what is happening in Germany right now. So it's very likely to happen in other countries as well. Only a matter of time. I mean mentioning especially COBI in a sentence containing the term "legal implications" is just laughable. They are the only ones NOT producing in China, but only in Europe. They have licenses with Boeing, Maserati, Paramount Pictures. Their quality is superior to LEGO's and their prices are still lower (though rising). Ask the very owner of this site if COBI is legit, I suppose he'll be among the first to approve it is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

55 minutes ago, tyskr28 said:

I don't really want to get into a he said/she said internet argument, I prefer to stick to the part that is related to investing in LEGO. But I will say that this topic has sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole and from what I've seen Bluebrixx isn't exactly on the moral high-ground with accusations of them stealing designs from independent moc makers (or selling the stolen designs) without payment, or only paying after being discovered and then refusing to stop selling the designs when asked.

Nothing is black and white, so its likely impossible to know exactly what has transpired here, but it all seems unnecessarily toxic if you ask me.

Read for yourself here

 

Ohhh, I thought Bluebrixx only sold 100% legal sets? Informed they weren't (the Decool one) they kept selling anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, roxio said:

Ohhh, I thought Bluebrixx only sold 100% legal sets? Informed they weren't (the Decool one) they kept selling anyway.

Could you please be a bit more precise? I mean in a discussion where every single word is important, please don't just throw in fractions of info and try to use this debris as an actual argument. WHAT set are you talking about and HOW was something about it illegal and what did BB do that was illegal?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Frank Brickowski said:

Could you please be a bit more precise? I mean in a discussion where every single word is important, please don't just throw in fractions of info and try to use this debris as an actual argument. WHAT set are you talking about and HOW was something about it illegal and what did BB do that was illegal?

https://zusammengebaut.com/auch-mocs-werden-geklaut-85861/

In the case of of Decool selling sets that of Keep On bricking designed, a German trader sells these kits continue, although it has already been put on notice (see below) that it is stolen intellectual property.

You wrote an email to BlueBrixx selling these DeCool sets. Has BlueBrixx already responded?

Yes, BlueBrixx replied to my email and suggested that I contact DeCool myself and speak to them about this issue. They did not mention their intention to withdraw their products from sale on their website.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, roxio said:

https://zusammengebaut.com/auch-mocs-werden-geklaut-85861/

In the case of of Decool selling sets that of Keep On bricking designed, a German trader sells these kits continue, although it has already been put on notice (see below) that it is stolen intellectual property.

You wrote an email to BlueBrixx selling these DeCool sets. Has BlueBrixx already responded?

Yes, BlueBrixx replied to my email and suggested that I contact DeCool myself and speak to them about this issue. They did not mention their intention to withdraw their products from sale on their website.

Alright. You still didn't mention any specific set but let me assume you're referring to this forklift:

Screenshot_2020-01-23_BlueBrixx_Sets_101614_Forklift-1024x1015.pngNow, with all seriousness: Are you actually saying that this forklift model is a design that is protectable at all in the first place? Are you familiar with the term "threshold of originality" - I suppose not. You simply cannot protect ANY brick model design you like just because you built it. Most of what is built by MOCers does not have the needed "threshold of originality" to even come close to a design that could ever be protected.

Moreover many MOC designs are in danger of being too close to original vehicle / architectural designs themselves, first of all. And you certainly cannot protect a brick model design based on a real vehicle / architecture itself. But even if no real vehicle / building is involved, 90% of the MOCs out there are just not "original" enought to ever become design-protected. This whole debate about MOCers having their designs stolen (or "stolen") is first and foremost a discussion about fairness, not about "legal" or "illegal". I'd also like to see MOCers being paid, but in terms of applicable laws, they stand pretty much bare-handed because their designs simply cannot be protected.

Edited by Frank Brickowski
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Until these other products gain retail shelf space in America, no one will care about them. There is a good chance, like Megabloks, that even if they do, no one will care about them.

My fight isn't against the quality of these companies, or the design, or whatever. It's that Americans will consistently pay higher amounts for perceived quality and brand recognition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...