LEGO protects minifigure trademark by enforcing new policy for third-party brands

Today, the LEGO Group has issued a statement regarding the trademark usage of its signature minifigure. For years fans in the LEGO community have used the likeness of minifigs to represent themselves, or even to market events in lieu of business cards and the like with third-party printed designs. Now the LEGO Group is looking to put that to an end as it shores up the trademark of its minifigures.

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LEGO minifigure trademark protection plan announced

Custom LEGO minifigures of all kinds have been adopted by the community for ages as a way to represent everything from individual builders to brands, events, and more. While today’s news won’t be adjusting what you can do with customized figures using official LEGO parts, the announcement seeks to target those who step outside of the bricks that the LEGO Group has graced builders with.

Here’s the full statement from the LEGO Group:

Customized LEGO Minifigures with printed 3rd party logos, names of organizations, and trademarks are not allowed. It’s not acceptable to use of the registered Minifigure trademark in combination with 3rd party symbols. The reason for the rule is that a trademark cannot simultaneously serve as an exclusive, representative symbol of two different entities. The ability of the Minifigure to serve as a distinctive LEGO brand symbol is reduced when a Minifigure is also printed with the name, logo, symbol, or other representative indicia of another entity. Left unchallenged, such use by third-party entities could put our rights in the Minifigure at risk and could eventually result in the loss of our company’s exclusive rights. This is something that we cannot risk.

Therefore, we must request that the community refrain from printing any 3rd party logos, names of organizations, and trademarks onto LEGO Minifigures, and refrain from using, ordering, distributing or selling Minifigures in such customized versions.

We understand that the AFOL Community would still like to celebrate their community events and activities via use of customized items and are pleased to confirm that according to current corporate policy fans are free to print graphics on LEGO brick elements and custom builds made of LEGO brick elements to celebrate your community activities and events.

What this means for the typical builder

Absolutely nothing. The LEGO Group is solely targeting the news today toward brands, be they individual creators on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, bloggers such as 9to5Toys, or any of the in-person community events. That doesn’t include most builders, as only entities looking to use custom minifigures as a way to promote their brand are going to be affected by the LEGO Group’s trademark adjustments.

What this means for brands

As for the actual brands that may be using minifigures as an extension of their image, this announcement is going to matter a bit more. Going forward, these entities won’t be able to sell or even give away custom minifigures as that would water down the LEGO Group’s trademark claims on its iconic figure. After all, the minifigure is as close as it gets to representing the company these days.

9to5Toys’ Take

Today’s news from the LEGO Group, while a bit disappointing for some, isn’t going to be the most devastating news for builders. The price hikes that are slated to take place this fall will certainly be a bigger deal for most, if not all LEGO fans, with the minifigure-centered announcement mainly targeting brands over individual creators.

That being said, it does show some disconnect between the LEGO Group and its audience. The LEGO community at large has played such a crucial part in making the interlocking brick system as popular as it is today with older fans, and so any action that seems to stifle that is obviously going to be met with some criticism. But even more hard-core fans like myself can understand why the LEGO Group has to make a more firm announcement like this, as seemingly unfortunate as it will be for some brands and organizations in the community.

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