When I was a kid, I loved playing with Legos. I had some castle sets and some space sets, but my favorites were the Legoland town sets.
It’s too bad Lego didn’t partner up with Star Wars until 1999, to coincide with the release of ‘The Phantom Menace.’ Since then, Lego has worked with several licenses, including Disney, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Marvel, DC, SpongeBob, Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Indiana Jones, the Simpsons, and Super Mario.
More recently, Lego teamed up with more grown-up themes, including Friends, Seinfeld, Doctor Who, Mission: Impossible and the A-Team. But one brand Lego did not come to terms with is james design, inc.
The company is owned by James Concannon, a New York-based fashion designer. Since 2017, Concannon has designed numerous articles of clothing worn by Antoni Porowski, one of the stars of Netflix’s hit show “Queer Eye.”
The award-winning show is a reboot of the Bravo show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The series features a new “Fab Five,” who spend a week with an individual and use their skills to improve his lifestyle and achieve better satisfaction in life. Porowski is the team’s food and wine expert; Tan France is the fashion expert; Karamo Brown is the culture expert; Bobby Berk is the design expert; and Jonathan Van Ness is the grooming expert.
Lego released the “Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft” toy set, which depicts the cast in their Atlanta base featured in the show. In the set, which retails for $99.99, Porowski can be seen wearing a black leather jacket that Concannon claims is a “blatant copy” of one he designed for the TV personality in 2018.
Concannon claims the Lego version of Porowski is wearing a leather jacket that sports his “signature propaganda-infused aesthetic,” including a peace sign on the left lapel, and a skull design on the right side of the chest. He asserts it is an exact replica of the one he designed for the star.
Concannon asserts that the show’s producers always cleared his designs for use on the show. However, Netflix allegedly did not obtain permission from him to use the jacket on a 2019 episode of the show. Concannon says he assumed it was an oversight and didn’t pursue the issue until the Lego set was released in September of last year.
So Concannon sued the Danish toy company in a Connecticut district court in December for willful infringement of his copyright. The lawsuit alleges that Lego didn’t seek his authorization to use “the unique placement, coordination, and arrangement of the individual artistic elements” on his original creation for the figurine’s jacket and did not compensate him for his work.
The suit, which seeks monetary damages, states that Lego “exploited the Concannon Jacket throughout the aggressive marketing of the ‘Fab 5 Loft’ set and also created animated versions of the jacket.” Concannon added that after contacting the company about the issue, a Lego customer service representative allegedly offered him “a free Fab 5 Loft set…for his six-year-old son to play with.” The company then revoked the offer, explaining that “Lego does not give away its products for free.”
If Lego loses the lawsuit, I wonder if they’ll pay the damages in gold bricks?