The saga of Culper Precision should go into the books as a basic lesson in what not to do in the business of children’s toys, trade mark law and safety.
Culper Precision created a cover for a Glock pistol (used by police and John Wick) but make the cover look like it was made of Lego. They called their creation the Block 17.
Unsurprisingly the Danish toy brick company Lego called in the big guns, in this case their lawyers, who sent the Utah-based gun business a demand to stop producing the red, blue and yellow Lego lookalike covering for real handguns.
At EAGLEGATEwe say it’s an interesting move given that children associate Legos as toys and real Glock pistols are definitely not toys. As an aside to the obvious safety concerns, a business cannot simply copy another’s product and expect to get away with it.
There’s been some light hearted media coverage of this issue but in truth this issue is not a funny one.
There is a reason people cannot trade mark the names of poisons as drinks – children get confused. Culper Precision have done something that is mind-boggling.
If a child gets hold of one of these guns it may be mistaken for a toy and the child might fire it,” she says, describing the sales gimmick as raising safety and misleading and deceptive conduct issues.
If the strategy was to create a marketing tool then they succeeded because the cease and desist letter has made news around the world.
On its website Culper Precision stated they were grateful for the attention that their Block19 is currently getting across the globe.
“We built Block19 to create an opportunity to talk about the enjoyment of the shooting sports and the joy that can only be found in marksmanship practice and training”
The gun maker had been marketing its “Block19” for between $US549 ($737) and $US765 but Culper Precision’s chief executive Brandon Scott has now confirmed that the company had decided to comply with Lego’s letter, after having sold fewer than 20 of the items.
Within most jurisdictions there are limitations on what a trader can register as a trade mark. For example, it is not possible to register a trade mark for drinks where that trade mark corresponds to the name of a poison. The reason behind this law is that children may mistake a bottle of poison for a drink.
Whilst Culper Precision does not appear to be using the Lego trade mark, the concept remains the same. Culper Precision have adopted the Lego get up, which is used to signify a child’s toy as a cover for a gun, which in the hands of a young child could be accidently mistaken for an actual toy and fired, despite its weight.
It will be interesting if Lego seeks some legal remedy now from the sales of those gun covers and what steps the gunmakers may have to take to ensure children do not mistake as toys those Lego-covered guns that have been sold.
Lego may well demand a product recall of those lookalike guns which are out there in the community now. They still pose a great risk if children get access to the ones that have been sold.