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Contacting Lego

Hey folks.
So I did a search and could not see anything that was of help to me so I am once again asking all you folks for help as you all helped me out heaps with a previous thread, also in relation to this project (printing on Lego bricks)

Essentially I have been working on a project for the past few years and am at the stage where before I invest serious amounts of time and potentially money I would like to see what the Lego groups view is on the project. I am concerned about this for a few reasons.

1) Lego have in the past actively been involved and have a interest in what I will be attempting.
2) The project if successful will gain huge media attention
3) I am a AFOL of Lego and would rather go into this project with 100% confidence from there side that I am not doing anything they displeases them.

I understand that unfortunately I have not given you guys much info as to what this "project" is, as It is something that anyone can do with enough time and effort and money I do not want to post my ideas in a public forum.

I have drafted a letter to send to Lego with my idea and asking for any concerns they may have, and if they will have any issues with me going ahead with this project.

I have searched and found a few addresses which may be useful but was wondering where would be the best place to send this mail/email so it reaches the right person. As I am located in Australia so do I send it to the Australian Head Office? Do I send it to Billund?

Essentially the worst case scenario is I send of the letter/email and get no response and if I run into "issues" in the future at least I tried to contact them, but I am really hoping to get the best shot at actually receiving a response.

If any of you, as I know a lot of you are deep in the community know have any info that would help me that would be awesome. Thank you.

Comments

  • @Shannon26:
    1) Lego have in the past actively been involved and have a interest in what I will be attempting.
    Would it not be logical to discuss/email/mail the people at Lego that have been actively involved in the past? Surely they could either help or point you in the right direction.

    Also:
    3) I am a AFOL of Lego
    This says you are an Adult Fan Of Lego of Lego... Just saying ;)

  • I would recommend calling someone initially, this removes the issue of not getting a response. I made a query about their Fair Play policy once via the customer service email form, and the reply suggested I ring UK office and ask for Legal. Not sure if they suggested UK because I live here, or if their global Legal is located here (doubt it).
  • Lol, yes it does, whoops i didn't realise I made that typo )-:"

    Yeah that would definitely be a great idea except I do not know which department exactly which involved, but lets say Marketing.

    So do I contact Marketing for Australia? Product PR for Germany?

    I know my question does seem kinda weird but I figured before I randomly start spamming them with mail I would try to source who the best contact(s) would be. (-:"

  • Ok cool, thank you for that, Will look into ringing as opposed to mail. Maybe Ill start local (Australia) and see if they are of any help, then go bigger if need be.
  • @shannon26 in every region LEGO has community coordinator. This is a LEGO representative who's job is to stay in touch with and be available to the LEGO community in their region. They go to LEGO shows and conventions, keep in touch with websites and blogs, and in general are making themselves available as a go-between LEGO fans and the LEGO company.

    I'm in the USA, so I don't know who your community coordinator is, but when you call LEGO you can ask for them specifically. The community coordinator I'm in touch with is an incredibly helpful guy who is my personal link to LEGO. Hope this helps some!...(c:

  • edited April 2012
    If it in any way involves copyright or trademarks, a lack of response is the same thing legally as a "No."
  • I have found that Twitter is a great way of getting a quick response from Lego.

    https://twitter.com/#!/LEGO_Group
  • Thanks guys. I haven't really attended to many events so haven't bumped into any community coordinators but I will definitely look at that option as it sounds like a great way of getting helpful info.

    As far as involving copyright or trademarks I don't believe it does, I have looked over the fair use policy and all that sort of stuff, the closest breach of there policies would be the fact that I am printing on the side of bricks, but due to the amount of customization that goes on in the community, I don't see how it would be a issue, but again is something I to wish to check.

    And lastly, Twitter, never thought of twitter, Ill have to have a look, only negative would be giving to much info away in a public space, If I cant send them a PM. Don't use witter so not all clued in (-:"

    Thanks again for all the suggestions.
  • @shannon26 I would recommend reaching out to Jim Foulds, he handles AFOL/LEGO Brand interaction in Australia. You can reach him at jfoulds@LEGO.com, but I hear he's not as helpful as the LEGO community rep in North America. ;)
  • As far as involving copyright or trademarks I don't believe it does, I have looked over the fair use policy and all that sort of stuff, the closest breach of there policies would be the fact that I am printing on the side of bricks, but due to the amount of customization that goes on in the community, I don't see how it would be a issue, but again is something I to wish to check.
    The amount of customization in the community really doesn't matter. The two things that matter are whether or not you are making money in any way from this project and whether or not your project has the potential, not whether it does or doesn't, of doing anything that Lego might perceive as hurting their brand. For example, if you're printing on the side of bricks, they might perceive printing the image of a Playboy bunny to be detrimental to their image.


  • As far as involving copyright or trademarks I don't believe it does, I have looked over the fair use policy and all that sort of stuff, the closest breach of there policies would be the fact that I am printing on the side of bricks, but due to the amount of customization that goes on in the community, I don't see how it would be a issue, but again is something I to wish to check.
    Keep in mind that the LEGO Fair Play guide contains a certain amount of "spin" of how the LEGO Group wishes the law was instead of how it actually is.

    The LEGO group no longer has intellectual property rights over most of the basic LEGO elements. Specifically, the LEGO group has no patent, copyright, or trademark rights controlling the basic 2x4 brick. (See Lego Juris v. OHIM [2010] ETMR 1121 and Kirkbi AG v. Ritvik Holdings Inc., [2005] 3 S.C.R. 302 , [2005] SCC 65).

    The "fair play" guide implies in several places that LEGO still controls the 2x4 brick.

    Generally speaking you can print whatever you want on the side of a brick. Without knowing more about your project it is hard to give a fuller opinion of what you are doing.
  • The LEGO group no longer has intellectual property rights over most of the basic LEGO elements. Specifically, the LEGO group has no patent, copyright, or trademark rights controlling the basic 2x4 brick. (See Lego Juris v. OHIM [2010] ETMR 1121 and Kirkbi AG v. Ritvik Holdings Inc., [2005] 3 S.C.R. 302 , [2005] SCC 65).

    The "fair play" guide implies in several places that LEGO still controls the 2x4 brick.

    Generally speaking you can print whatever you want on the side of a brick. Without knowing more about your project it is hard to give a fuller opinion of what you are doing.
    Lego does not hold the patent on the concept of the 2x4 brick but they do hold some rights on the commercial use of their own production bricks, namely protection against commercial use of their products that they could argue damages their brand name in the process.

    Typically what you do with the products for your own use is entirely up to you but when commercial use, and by commercial you need not be making money off of it, is involved, you don't have the same rights.
  • For example, if you're printing on the side of bricks, they might perceive printing the image of a Playboy bunny to be detrimental to their image.
    Yep. I discussed this with the Brick Engraver a while back (2010, apparently), and was told that he no longer does company logos for that reason. IE, LEGO had some issues with him printing other branding on their bricks, and then selling them.

    As a workaround, I believe he actually said that he was still able to do the printing on various *CLONE* bricks (he had a source for those), but not on actual LEGO bricks.

    Of course, he's based in the USA, which may not have the same laws regarding trademark and copyright as Australia. Certainly LEGO will object to it equally, but whether or not they have a case would depend on the particulars (I assume probably similar laws, but I don't know)

    DaveE

  • Lego does not hold the patent on the concept of the 2x4 brick but they do hold some rights on the commercial use of their own production bricks, namely protection against commercial use of their products that they could argue damages their brand name in the process.
    Not exactly per se. Even though LEGO has no IP rights to the 2x4 brick design, the brick does have the trademarked word "LEGO" embossed on each stud. They have a limited right to control what happens with this trademark.

    Hypothetically, in the United States they could claim that an engraved or printed brick was "materially different" from the genuine LEGO product, and that it was somehow a violation under the Lanham Act. That line of thought seems pretty dubious to me, but nothing would stop them from writing a big nasty letter with the words "CEASE AND DESIST" on it.

    Here (link) is a nice little paper I found on the issue of LEGO's IP. The paper is slightly out of date but I like that it looks at the issue from an international perspective.

  • Hypothetically, in the United States they could claim that an engraved or printed brick was "materially different" from the genuine LEGO product, and that it was somehow a violation under the Lanham Act. That line of thought seems pretty dubious to me, but nothing would stop them from writing a big nasty letter with the words "CEASE AND DESIST" on it.
    I'd like to think they would send out big nasty 2x4 bricks with CEASE AND DESIST printed on them.

    Thanks for the link, interesting reading, like this topic. Does anyone know LEGO's stance on people selling their own MOCs with instructions on BL or elsewhere? It's always struck me that they would take objection to other sets infringing on their sales, but from reading this thread it seems their concern is more about negative associations with the brand than potential sales impact.

    Say Yatkuu had never put The Winchester on CUUSOO but instead worked with the filmmakers and sold it online as a set with a pretty box & instructions, and complied with Fair Play policy. Say this all worked and the set sold really well. Would LEGO be concerned about the success in monetary terms or just the potential negative brand associations that they are considering now, i.e. zombies/alcohol/violence?
  • ^ In this scenario, would the set have the lego trademark on, and would the bricks be genuine lego bricks?

    If it had the trademark, I reckon they would sue for monetary but also issue a statement saying they do not agree with the negative association.

    If it didn't have the trademark or use lego bricks, then there is no issue.
  • LEGO Legal don't like the reseller or people selling their own MOCs, if this was software or electronics they might be able to do something, but it's not and theirs really not much that can be done to stop it - so long as it's made very clear it's not a LEGO product. The amount of time (and therefore money) LEGO spends dealing with complaints about other peoples products is ridiculous - many people even think 'Mega' is a "cheap LEGO brand"!

    As for printing on bricks, again LEGO legal don't like it, and if you become too high profile they might come after you with whatever laws might apply in your jurisdiction - also remember the mini-figure and stud with LEGO text are trademarks and will be strongly defended from other people using them. Whatever you're printing might also have some protection, logo's, graphics and photo's all have copyrights protecting them from commercial exploitation unless they are yours or you are given full permission. LEGOLAND had to get special permission and child safe ink to print photo's onto bricks from the camera's on the parks rides!

    Also new child safety laws on inks came in this January (or next - I'm not sure), so you would be very wise to make it clear your product is for adult hobbiests unless you have around 25,000 dollars per colour to pay for the tests or can find pre-tested inks!
  • @CCC, its the re-use of LEGO bricks in someone's 'product' that I was interested by, assuming it follows Fair Play. I've always been surprised that people sell their MOCs as builable sets without getting slammed by LEGO Legal - I guess @LEGO_Nabii has explained that one though.

    I guess in the 'real' construction world, if you built your house out of bricks and sold the house, the brick company's Legal couldn't really do much about it! I suppose people are using LEGO for what it was intended for, and choosing to resell their belongings. That's why I imagined LEGO would be more cross about the loss of sales, but maybe no-one was ever successful enough to make any sort of dint.

    The cost of handling complaints makes a lot of sense though, that must be an utter pain. I saw a woman in a brand store getting quite stroppy because she'd seen a MOC on YouTube and wanted to buy it; no matter how much the guy patiently explained, she insisted they must have a similar products with the same parts. Poor guy!
  • ^ Selling a model made of second hand lego bricks is OK. Putting it in a box and then including the lego logo on the box is not.
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