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What does The LEGO group do to follow clone brands? Do they buy at least one of every set produced by The Other Guys?

I'm more interested about what the LEGO company does to keep up with what competitors are putting out, and whether or not they might decide to incorporate new elements in their own product line. We always consider that clone brands copy LEGO bricks, but does the opposite happen?

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Not certain what your question is concerned about. Are you talking about counterfeiters or about other brands like Megabloks and Kreo trying to get a piece of the pie? –  Sly Raskal Mar 24 '13 at 20:07
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Sorry, I mean in terms of keeping up with what the competition is putting out. –  gev Mar 25 '13 at 8:01
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

In my opinion, LEGO must follow clone brands very closely, and this for a number of reasons.

The first, which is obvious and has already been mentioned, is that they want to protect their own intellectual property. As such, they'll want to take legal action as soon as possible when one of their trademarks/copyrights is infringed.

The second one is actually also about intellectual property, although not their own. Indeed, while LEGO is usually considered as the leader in the field of interlocking bricks, it can indeed happen that a competitor creates something new, which LEGO might not have considered. That would be where you would suggest that LEGO should "keep up", but in reality most of the time it's exactly the contrary: since they may not infringe on the competitor's own intellectual property, they won't be able to imitate them.

So saying that design decisions can be made independently of what other manufacturers are doing is, in my own opinion, utterly false. I can't imagine a field of business where you can completely ignore what your competitors are doing, just because you believe you're ahead of them, and if you do, you're either very cocky, or very naive.

Note I'm talking about serious competitors like MegaBloks, not the one who just copy badly everything LEGO makes. MegaBloks, for example, does have interesting parts (for example, plates with studs on both sides, Plate 1 x 2 connector, male:male and Plate 2 x 2 connector, male:male). These parts are interesting and many LEGO builders would like to have them, but it's unlikely LEGO would be willing to produce them now that MegaBloks has. Of course, I'm no lawyer and I understand copyright law may be much more intricate than that (there are parts which both companies produce, for example), but I'm confident this is a valid concern in the design process.

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COBI also has some male:male plates, 2x2 and 1x4 at least. –  gev Apr 5 '13 at 9:03
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+1: Some excellent points that I had overlooked. I've deleted my own answer as it is just plain wrong. –  Kramii Apr 9 '13 at 11:33
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