The billion-dollar popularity of the recently released Barbie movie has brought toy company Mattel into focus. The US toy market revenue in 2020 was $32.6 billion; if children are solely responsible for said revenue, that’s a lot of lunch money. However, this increase in revenue and broadening of customer base comes with an increase in litigation activity. Hasbro, Mattel, and Lego are three of the many giants in the toy industry; Docket Alarm analysis of the recent several years of federal lawsuits involving them reveals common trends between these toymakers.
Mattel’s most famous toy brands are Barbie, Fisher Price, and Hot Wheels. Docket Alarm analysis over the last five years reveals Mattel averages 1.7 cases a month.
Mattel’s top case types are trademark, product liability, and contract. Upon review of individual cases within each group, Mattel’s trademark cases often involve unlawful uses of Mattel’s trademarked properties, such as Barbie, Fisher Price, and Power Wheels, by third party retailers. There is considerable overlap between Mattel’s product liability and contract cases; a number of individual cases within these groups involve wrongful infant death due to Fisher Price’s Rock n’ Play incline seat. In January of 2023, Fisher Price reannounced their recall of the Rock n’ Play due to the harm the product caused.
Mattel’s most frequented courts are the New York Southern District, New York Western District, and California Central District Court. Mattel’s headquarters is located in El Segundo, California.
Hasbro owns Wizards of the Coast, publisher of iconic games like Dungeons and Dragons. Hasbro’s most famous lines of toys include Nerf, Ouija Boards, G.I. Joe, and Furby. According to Docket Alarm analysis of the past five years, Hasbro engages in 0.4 legal proceedings per month.
Hasbro’s top case types are copyright and contract. Upon review of individual cases for each group, copyright cases for Hasbro involve individuals attempting to use Hasbro intellectual property for private manufacturing of personal goods. The contract cases consist of breaches of contract; one, specifically, involves Hasbro allegedly stealing game ideas from the son of the creator of Connect 4.
Hasbro’s most frequented courts are the Southern District of New York, the District of Rhode Island, and the Northern District of California. Hasbro’s headquarters are located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Lego is arguably the most popular toy company for both children and adults in the world. Their crossover products include Marvel, DC, Disney, Star Wars, Mario, and more. Over the last five years, Lego has had a total of 19 federal legal proceedings.
Lego’s most frequented courts are the Connecticut District Court, the California Central District Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Lego headquarters is in Billund, Denmark.
According to Docket Alarm analytics, Lego’s top case types are copyright and patent. The individual cases within these two groups overlap regarding their legal disputes over intellectual property (i.e., patents and copyrights) such as minifigure design, art used in minifigure design, and digital software.
The largest litigation commonality between the three companies is their involvement in copyright and patent cases, hinting at the intense intellectual property competition in the industry.