If you were making a movie, you would get the copyright on the screen play before the first actor is cast. This would protect you from other people making toys or models that are named the exact same thing. It doesn't protect you from them trying to ape (or pre-guess) what your designs will be and attempting to get out a toy that looks similar to what you may produce. The reason this doesn't happen that much is the chances of them making a toy that looks exactly like what your designers will produce is not very good. They are going to end up with a toy that looks like what you described on paper but not what it looks like in the movie. This makes the point of your having the toy for the movie out before the movie company makes it moot because no one will know that your toy is of that movie. The other way to ripoff intellectual property in the toy/model market, is to go extremely generic. That will protect you as long as you go generic enough. The problem with that is generic = boring.
I've seen a few online stores attempting to premake tomb blades and other Necron things. The problem is, they look too much like GW designs and will probably get in trouble for it. They need to go more generic Egyptian than necrony Egyptian.
Of course this is overshooting the whole business solutions to this. GW could do one of two things. One that is good and another that is great (IMHO of course). The good one is to put out all the figs for the army at the same time, including the options for your HQs (I'm looking at you two Overlord figures, both with warscythes and res orbs and not the basic equipment the unit comes with). The better option is to bring these other outfits in house through contracts or licensing. It would be cutting off the blackmarketing of the items (You really think they are going to stop if GW wins?). It would also bring more different types of sculptors to the line. And while GW would see a cut in the amount of their models sold, they would make it up by receiving a percent of every outsourced item sold without having to risk money on it. I'm sure there is a reason they are going the other way because, in the field of law, there are always twenty things going on that you don't know about.