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Queer Eye Lego lawsuit

PDelahantyPDelahanty Northern CaliforniaMember Posts: 123
I saw this on Twitter. It’s a discussion by a lawyer over the merit of a lawsuit against Lego for using a jacket design in the Queer Eye set that is similar to a jacket worn in the show that apparently they didn’t have permission to use. …so now the question is if the modified Lego design is similar enough.
https://twitter.com/questauthority/status/1480930744981766145?s=21
SumoLegoBrainsluggedrd1899kiki180703

Comments

  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,510
    This is a pretty arcane way to try and boost sales for the set.

    Quick, quick, run out a buy 10x of these because they'll be pulled from shelves!

    I'm sure some well-paid LEGO attorneys in Billund, Boston and London are all drafting response papers and impleader requests to have Netflix join the fun.  (Or someone is discussing an appropriately sized check to the jacket designer for the oversight...)
  • PDelahantyPDelahanty Northern CaliforniaMember Posts: 123
    I'm betting there will be some kind of settlement before this goes to trial. As part of it, maybe Lego would have to change the minifig's jacket.  Maybe they're already planning to do it which will make this current version rare and more valuable...although I seriously doubt Lego did this intentionally to try to boost sales for this.  I only randomly came across this on Twitter and it's not like the case is out there making the rounds on Lego news sites...at least none I frequent.
    SumoLegoiwybs
  • bricktuarybricktuary Krakozhia (temporarily stuck in London)Member Posts: 914
    (NAL) but this is actually quite interesting.
    If it's actually a copyright claim, I don't see how it has any chance of success.  It's clearly inspired by the jacket, but it is absolutely not a reproduction of any of it.

    Presumably the goal must be to get some $$ from Lego and/or some publicity for the artist.
    PDelahantyiwybsFizyxMr_Crosskiki180703
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,510
    Or from Netflix for providing a license for an item for which they did not have the right to license...
    iwybsBobflipandhe
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,294
    edited January 13
    OK... maybe someone can explain why the leather jacket shown on the box (and in the lawsuit) ... is not shown on the actual minifig?  I checked the 3 sticker sheets, and it is not on there either?

    https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=10291-1#T=S&O={"iconly":0}

    https://www.bricklink.com/catalogItemInv.asp?S=10291-1&viewItemType=M

    Or did TLG remove it from Bricklink??
  • WesterBricksWesterBricks USAMember Posts: 222
    edited January 13

    It’s hanging on the rack.
    IstokgLyichirAstrobricksAanchirkiki180703
  • 7BS7BS CaliforniaMember Posts: 57
    ^ There are a few alternate torsos included in the set. The one in question is still shown in the set inventory and the part is still available individually.

    https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=973pb4444c01&idColor=11#T=S&C=11&O={"color":11,"iconly":0} 
    Istokg
  • TheOriginalSimonBTheOriginalSimonB Felixstowe Member Posts: 1,679
    Surely they are just "idiot" mittens, with a string connecting them up the sleeves and across the shoulders, not dismembered hands... ;-)
    vizzitorgmonkey76Lobot560Heliportandhekiki180703
  • Sethro3Sethro3 United StatesMember Posts: 843
    Surely they are just "idiot" mittens, with a string connecting them up the sleeves and across the shoulders, not dismembered hands... ;-)
    I like the episode in King of the Hill when Bobby has mittens like that through his football jersey/pads. Hilarious.
    560HeliportKungFuKenny
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,001
    Surely they are just "idiot" mittens, with a string connecting them up the sleeves and across the shoulders, not dismembered hands... ;-)
    Aren't the Queer Eye guys meant to be fashionable?
    560Heliport
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 4,850
    CCC said:
    Surely they are just "idiot" mittens, with a string connecting them up the sleeves and across the shoulders, not dismembered hands... ;-)
    Aren't the Queer Eye guys meant to be fashionable?
    Reminds me of the trend of wearing pajamas in public 😐
    560Heliport
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 The Northwest, USAMember Posts: 2,511
    Wait, are grown adults NOT supposed to wear pajamas in public?
    560HeliportAstrobricksandhekiki180703
  • WesterBricksWesterBricks USAMember Posts: 222
    ^ There's no law against it, I'm just saying.
    Switchfoot55560HeliportAstrobricksandhekiki180703
  • autolycusautolycus US-SEMember Posts: 1,087
    Looks to me like a pretty weak case, but IANACL.
    PDelahanty
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,949
    Interesting thread that really goes into what a complicated situation this is. For my part, legalities aside, I think the artist has plenty of justification for wanting to avoid any precedent of "look-alike" graphics/artwork like this getting a free pass — especially if it would open the door for other CLOTHING manufacturers to create clothing with "look-alike" patterns. Even LEGO could suffer from that sort of precedent if it allowed knock-off brands to create near-identical graphics to the ones appearing on their products.
    At the same time, I don't really think LEGO should be culpable for this financially if it was Netflix that failed to secure the rights to use the design on the show and in promotional material (a process they knew was required of them in the case of other designer clothing featured on the show). Frankly, I think it would make more sense for Netflix to surrender a portion of their royalties from this set to the artist (though I have no idea how that sum would be determined).
    And since I pretty much zero knowledge of case law beyond what's shared in this thread, I can barely guess at what sort of outcome this suit might result in. Between the uncertainties of LEGO's contract with Netflix and the fact that the suit is against LEGO Systems, Inc. (the US-based subsidiary of The LEGO Group) rather than the parent company, I could easily imagine the court either ruling against the artist or throwing out the case entirely. But I could also imagine LEGO opting for a cash settlement (probably of much less than the damages being sought) so as to avoid too much bad press.
    I guess we'll see how this turns out. Hopefully none of the parties involved end up to much worse off for it one way or another.
    iwybsWesterBricks
  • autolycusautolycus US-SEMember Posts: 1,087
    Aanchir said:
    Interesting thread that really goes into what a complicated situation this is. For my part, legalities aside, I think the artist has plenty of justification for wanting to avoid any precedent of "look-alike" graphics/artwork like this getting a free pass — especially if it would open the door for other CLOTHING manufacturers to create clothing with "look-alike" patterns. Even LEGO could suffer from that sort of precedent if it allowed knock-off brands to create near-identical graphics to the ones appearing on their products.
    At the same time, I don't really think LEGO should be culpable for this financially if it was Netflix that failed to secure the rights to use the design on the show and in promotional material (a process they knew was required of them in the case of other designer clothing featured on the show). Frankly, I think it would make more sense for Netflix to surrender a portion of their royalties from this set to the artist (though I have no idea how that sum would be determined).
    And since I pretty much zero knowledge of case law beyond what's shared in this thread, I can barely guess at what sort of outcome this suit might result in. Between the uncertainties of LEGO's contract with Netflix and the fact that the suit is against LEGO Systems, Inc. (the US-based subsidiary of The LEGO Group) rather than the parent company, I could easily imagine the court either ruling against the artist or throwing out the case entirely. But I could also imagine LEGO opting for a cash settlement (probably of much less than the damages being sought) so as to avoid too much bad press.
    I guess we'll see how this turns out. Hopefully none of the parties involved end up to much worse off for it one way or another.
    I’m general, it’s important to keep in mind the critical balance between protecting the ability of creative people and businesses to profit off of their own work rather than allowing others to simply copy things and reap rewards of their copying. This was a one off jacket that the designer made for the host of a tv show. If one off jackets could block others from selling jackets with a similar style, fashion would become a giant litigation fest with designers and companies coming up with random stuff, making one copy, publishing it somewhere and then suing anyone who does something even remotely similar. (Kind of how some segments of the patent industry works now).
    7BSAstrobricksMr_Crossiwybs
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,285
    I think someone in LEGO (likely accounting) kind of likes this. I mean it does not appear this set was selling well, as evidenced by the somewhat large discounts already for it, so interesting this lawsuit comes up now while the set seems to be flagging in sales.. All this frivolous lawsuit will do is get more people to realize that this set is out there and possibly buy it or go to LEGO's site and buy other sets... Which is a win for LEGO, especially if they make a change to it, they will see the first run of these fly off of the shelves then. Lord knows how many more Jabba's Palaces sold once that complaints was raised about how the palace looked...

    Bumblepants1265gmonkey76kiki180703
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,001
    You'd think they'd get the people in it to play with the set for publicity.
    SumoLegomadforLEGO
  • BrainsluggedBrainslugged England (the grim North)Member Posts: 1,928
    Lord knows how many more Jabba's Palaces sold once that complaints was raised about how the palace looked...
    You mean how the source material looked in a 30+ year old movie? SMH. And that was a decade ago before being offended by stuff became an accepted full time occupation.
    sipussBumblepantsmadforLEGObricktuarydatsunrobbiegmonkey76kiki180703lowlead
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,510
    Disney doesn't seem remotely concerned about Jabba's Palace, given the number of establishing shots we've seen thusfar on Disney+

    Anyway, it is significant if the designer/artist is filing on the basis of the jacket being a work of art, versus an actual in-production jacket.  Frankly, I think it makes the lawsuit more frivolous if it isn't a presently-produced piece of clothing.  The artist would have to show some tangible damages.

    And one could argue it is a parody, so there's that.  Until the lawsuit was filed, I don't think there is an argument that people are purchasing the set in order to get a cheap version of a custom-made jacket...
    560HeliportiwybsSwitchfoot55datsunrobbiegmonkey76kiki180703
  • MainBrickerMainBricker UKMember Posts: 3
    A result from the lawsuit could be a cease and desist on the set, and now that Lego are retiring the set a year earlier (in 2022 as opposed to the original planned date of 2023), it would be an easy way out for Lego.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,726
    Designer sues Lego for copyright infringement over Antoni Porowski's leather jacket in Queer Eye set | Daily Mail Online

    The article says the designer copyrighted the jacket in November 2021, and the LEGO set was released in October 2021. If LEGO got a copyright on the minifigure jacket prior to releasing the set, maybe they can sue the designer for infringing.
    Gibbo1959560HeliportmadforLEGOkiki180703Astrobricks
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,510
    edited January 19
    ^ Normally, a formal 'filing' of IP isn't a condition to pursuing an infringement.  The idea is to support the creator, and not who happens to get down to the IP filing office first.

    Clearly, the jacket existed prior to the set's release and LEGO didn't design the jacket.
    iwybsLyichir
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,001
    > Concannon alleges Lego 'painstakingly copied' the 'individual creative elements' as well as the 'unique placement, coordination, and arrangement'

    Or in other words, LEGO put too much detail into the minifigure. Maybe next time, they won't make the figures look like the real people / characters as much.

    I wonder why LEGO withdrew the offer of a free set. They give out enough for review, if this guy was placated with one free set that included his artwork, maybe he would have shut up.

    It would be funny if LEGO did a recall and just replaced the torso with a plain black one or one showing some other clothes instead. Lose - lose.

    iwybs
  • LyichirLyichir United StatesMember Posts: 952
    CCC said:
    > Concannon alleges Lego 'painstakingly copied' the 'individual creative elements' as well as the 'unique placement, coordination, and arrangement'

    Or in other words, LEGO put too much detail into the minifigure. Maybe next time, they won't make the figures look like the real people / characters as much.
    To be honest, that wouldn't be unprecedented. It's already done for things like real-world vehicles in themes like Jurassic World where Lego has licensed the IP for the movie but not the real-world vehicles that appear in it—they purposely design the vehicles in the sets to not resemble their on-screen counterparts too exactly, so that they don't have to enter into a separate licensing agreement on top of the one for the movie itself. So creating a substitution for a fashion design that hasn't been licensed would not be much of a stretch.

    Granted, the issue here seems to be that Lego was not even made aware that Netflix had apparently not gone through the proper licensing channels for that unique jacket to appear or be represented in merch. This is a somewhat novel issue for Lego in that respect, since for most of their typical licenses (such as Star Wars, Super Heroes, or Harry Potter), character costumes are designed wholly for the production itself and are thus props included in the licensing arrangement, and not designer clothes from other brands/artists. This is something they ought to try to be more aware of in the future for something like reality TV licensing where real-world brands and designer outfits originating outside the show are more common and prominent.

    iwybs
  • blokey9blokey9 MelbourneMember Posts: 191
    Unless the designer has plans to sell toys using this design, does he have any legal standing?
  • 560Heliport560Heliport Twin Cities, MN, USAMember Posts: 2,802
    blokey9 said:
    Unless the designer has plans to sell toys using this design, does he have any legal standing?
    What are the "damages"? I don't think too many people are saying, "Well, I'm not going to buy that jacket (which was a custom piece anyway, right?) because I have a Lego minifig torso that looks just like it."
    iwybsAstrobricks
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 4,850
    edited 6:23AM
    blokey9 said:
    Unless the designer has plans to sell toys using this design, does he have any legal standing?
    What are the "damages"? I don't think too many people are saying, "Well, I'm not going to buy that jacket (which was a custom piece anyway, right?) because I have a Lego minifig torso that looks just like it."
    The only other argument I can think of is saying people are buying the set because of the jacket design, which I have trouble imagining. But I suppose some minifig collector out there could be super excited about it 🙄.
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