Playmobil makes plastic toy people figures. You'd probably recognize them if you saw them
. I know I had a bunch as a kid. Anyway, according to the company, you can violate its intellectual property by playing with them (and then photographing the results) in an unauthorized manner. No, seriously. Ramon Casha alerts us to the news of a series of lawsuits in Malta
against people for trying to sell the plastic people figures set up in an unauthorized manner. Now, there is a separate issue here. Apparently, Playmobil has at least some of these plastic people assembled in Malta, and part of the issue was people somehow getting access to stolen bags of Playmobil people parts and selling them. In that case, it's fine to charge people with theft, if there's evidence that they stole.
However, the lawsuits seem to target the people who took these toys and set them up in an "unauthorized" manner (such as depicting violent scenes) and charge them with intellectual property infringement. That seems a lot more difficult to accept. Assuming that the figures had been purchased legally, and then the owner created these same scenes and tried to sell them on eBay, would Playmobil still have a case? How can the company presume to tell people how they can or cannot set up the toys in their possession?