“Lego’s brand-protection strategy combats online and offline piracy”

Arturo Ishbak Gonzalez Sr. is the Lego Group’s corporate counsel for the Latin America region. In this interview he explains the company’s intellectual property strategy, its fight against piracy and the main challenges to protecting IP rights in the region.

Posted mardi, mai 9 2023
“Lego’s brand-protection strategy combats online and offline piracy”

Arturo Ishbak Gonzalez

Leaders League: Tell us briefly about your role at the Lego Group.
Arturo Ishbak:
In the Lego Group I am responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s intellectual property strategy for the Latin American region.

In this sense, my activities are mainly focused on the protection of intellectual property rights of the Lego Group throughout the region with an important focus on our priority countries in terms of sales and combating piracy. For this purpose, it is essential to protect trademarks, inventions – mainly patents, industrial models and designs – and copyrights, with the primary purpose of being able to use them against infringements of our intellectual property rights.

How does the firm’s intellectual property department work?
The Lego Group has regional IP teams in the Americas, APAC, REEMEA and Europe, in addition to a legaltech team that has, among other roles, responsibility for the company’s online brand-protection strategy.

In the case of the Americas, the IP team is composed of two lawyers based in the United States who are in charge of the Lego Group’s IP strategy in the United States and Canada, plus a lawyer responsible for the online IP strategy, while I am based in Mexico City and as I mentioned before, am in charge of IP strategy in Latin America.

Nevertheless, the different IP teams are in constant communication with the purpose of developing joint and consistent strategies at the global level for the protection and enforcement of our IP rights. Ongoing communication includes the use of shared databases and regular meetings to discuss common strategies. 

What is Lego’s strategy to protect its brand and fight piracy?
Our brand protection strategy is divided into online and offline piracy. As a first step, we determine the priority countries for the protection of intellectual property rights; these countries are chosen according to the needs of the business in each region.

Subsequently, we register our intellectual property rights in the customs databases of the countries where the legislation allows it. Once this has been done, we continuously train authorities, either in person or virtually, through training sessions that allow them to get to know the company, become familiar with our intellectual property rights and identify counterfeit products in order to obtain alerts on imports with counterfeit products that allow us to initiate administrative or criminal actions as appropriate in each country.

The online strategy is based on the use of brand protection tools provided by e-commerce platforms, where we register our intellectual property rights so that our legaltech team can identify and remove counterfeit products that infringe our intellectual property rights.

We continuously train authorities so they become familiar with our intellectual property rights and can identify counterfeit products

How has your experience as a lecturer helped contribute to research on IP issues?
On the academic side, I have had the opportunity to teach law, business administration and international business students. The business and administration course in particular has allowed me to approach intellectual property from a different perspective and to be able to develop IP strategies focused on the needs of the business and not just those conceived from a legal perspective.

This different perspective has allowed me to understand and investigate the business model of franchising to help monetize intellectual property rights and help Lego expand in Mexico and abroad via franchising. 

What do you consider to be the main challenges for IP in Latam, generally speaking?
The dissemination of intellectual property in the region is key and represents a major challenge in order to encourage economic growth and combat piracy.

Likewise, I find providing administrative and criminal authorities with effective tools to combat piracy challenging, since there are countries in the region that do not have efficient legislation or the necessary human resources to help companies implement intellectual property protection campaigns in the region. In this sense, the modernization of intellectual property laws is essential to promote intellectual property in the region.