Fair play, please
See also our Fair Play brochure
Dear Consumer, Customer, Surfer - or even Competitor:
This is a message about copyrights, trademarks, unfair competition and other legal matters. We do not like all the pirate copies of LEGO® elements which we have seen, especially during the past 25 years. We would like to explain why.
National patent, design and trademark laws - not to mention the observance of such laws and associated regulations - differ quite substantially from country to country. In a number of countries, laws against unfair competition do not even exist. Lately, the absence of regulations against counterfeiting, trademark infringements, etc. has confronted the owners of original rights with growing problems from copy producers. Since a total lack of regulations clearly invites counterfeiting and copy production, the LEGO Group naturally welcomes the steps now being taken by some governments to introduce product and trademark protection into national legislation.
We also support the regulation of the European Union on the seizure of counterfeit products and the efforts of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the European Union to strengthen and harmonize the relevant laws. Even in highly developed markets, the laws on protection of intellectual property have loopholes and some defects. Therefore the process of securing enforcement of the rules and adjustment of the law can be very slow.
Obtaining protection against copying of trademarks and products is all too often a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process. The LEGO Group, therefore, cooperates with other manufacturers of branded products on an international basis with the goal of strengthening, harmonizing and simplifying international legislation and enforcement.
A recent survey, among European companies manufacturing branded products, shows that more than 80 percent of the respondents had seen more of their products imitated at least once during the preceding five years. Only about half of them had taken legal steps against the imitators. The other half cited cumbersome procedures, high costs and uncertainty of outcome because of widely varying practices, even within the European Union, as the main reasons for not defending their rights. This makes it all the more obvious that improved legislation within this area is needed.
However, universal awareness that creative products deserve better protection is fortunately increasing. In the LEGO Group, we believe that any original product design should be protected against copying for as long as it is produced and marketed. And that it should be possible to stop such copying and other infringements easily. We also believe that designs, company names and trademarks should not be used in unrelated settings without the owner’s consent. Each year, our legal department handles hundreds of incidents involving infringement of our rights, keeps track of developments worldwide and regularly brings infringers to court, making sure that consumers can have confidence that anything bearing the LEGO Group’s trademarks or characteristic product features is a LEGO brand product. This is in the best interest not only of our company but also of consumers, primarily children, all over the world. For that purpose, we have defined attitudes and practices intended to secure fair competition and fair dealing towards consumers. Some of them we can - and do - enforce by legal action. Some of them, we wish could be enforced where breaches occur.
All we ask is that there should be fair play and the possibility for consumers to make buying decisions on an informed basis.
How LEGO® Enthusiasts May Refer to LEGO Products on the Internet
The LEGO Group has become aware that many LEGO enthusiasts around the world are using the Internet to share information and ideas about our products. Several unofficial homepages have been established and there appears to be a great deal of activity and interest in these sites. Unfortunately, some of these sites use the LEGO logo and LEGO trademarks in a manner which may lead to confusion about whether these sites are sponsored or authorized by the LEGO Group.
Therefore, we have developed these guidelines to assist Internet users who wish to refer to LEGO products for non-commercial purposes as to the appropriate way to refer to our LEGO trademarks. However, you should be aware that it is impossible to set hard and fast rules about the proper use of our trademarks. This is because our objective is to prevent a use which, when viewed in the overall context, is likely to lead to a blurring or loss of distinctiveness of our trademarks or cause consumers to believe mistakenly that there is an affiliation with or sponsorship by the LEGO Group. Since use in different contexts may produce different impressions (or misimpressions) on the viewer, generalizations do not always apply to a particular case. Nevertheless, we offer these guidelines and ask for your help in order to keep our trademarks strong and distinctive.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, symbol or design, including a logo or the shape of goods or of their packaging, that distinguishes the goods of one company from those of another company. In some countries, the LEGO Basic Brick is protected by a trademark registration. A trademark also can be used to show the endorsement or approval of the trademark owner for materials bearing the trademark.
A Trademark must be Protected
A trademark must be able to distinguish the goods of one company from those of another. If a trademark loses this ability, the owner may find that it can no longer prevent others from using the trademark. An owner must prevent the improper use of its trademarks to prevent the public from being deceived. This is why the LEGO Group is very active around the world in making sure that its trademarks are not misused.
The LEGO Logo may not be used on an Unofficial Web Site
The bright red LEGO logo has become one of the most recognized trademarks in the world. We have worked hard to make this logo a symbol of high quality creative products for children. The logo stands for the LEGO Group and we cannot risk allowing the distinctiveness of this symbol to be diluted. We must, therefore, insist that the LEGO logo NEVER be used on an unofficial web site.
The LEGO Trademarks may be used under certain Limited Circumstances on an Unofficial Web Site
The LEGO trademarks (but not the logo) may be used in a non-commercial manner to refer to LEGO products or elements which are shown or discussed on a web site, as long as the trademark is not unduly emphasized or used in a way that can lead an observer to mistakenly believe that the site is sponsored or authorized by the LEGO Group.
Proper Use of the LEGO Trademark on a Web Site
If the LEGO trademark is used at all, it should always be used as an adjective, not as a noun. For example, say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGO BRICKS”. Never say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGOs”. Also, the trademark should appear in the same typeface as the surrounding text and should not be isolated or set apart from the surrounding text. In other words, the trademarks should not be emphasized or highlighted. Finally, the LEGO trademark should always appear with a ® symbol each time it is used.
The LEGO Trademark cannot be used in an Internet Address
The LEGO trademark should not be incorporated into an Internet address. Internet addresses have become useful tools for people to identify the source of a homepage. Using “LEGO” in the domain name would be creating the misleading impression that the LEGO Group sponsored the homepage.
Use a Disclaimer
A disclaimer should be used when the LEGO trademark appears on a Web page. An appropriate disclaimer would be “LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site”. However, a disclaimer will not serve to undo an improper trademark use. Therefore, use of the LEGO logo or improper use of the LEGO trademark cannot be made proper by including a disclaimer.
What is a Copyright?
A copyright is an exclusive right to make or distribute copies, by any means, of original written and artistic materials. This exclusive right includes the right to make copies in a computer memory.
Scanning Of Copyrighted Materials Into A Web Site
The LEGO Group owns the copyrights to its building instructions, publications and to the photographs used in our catalogs and on our packages. Copying, scanning and distributing these materials on the Internet would be an infringement of our copyrights. Nevertheless, at the present time the LEGO Group does not object to scanning of limited extracts of these materials in unaltered form for non-commercial purposes of exchange of information or good faith commentary. However, scanned /images/info should not be given such prominence as to indicate sponsorship of the Web site by the LEGO Group. We would ask that the photographs be scanned without distortion or overemphasis of the LEGO logo. A disclaimer and notice must appear indicating that the copyrights are owned by the LEGO Group (e.g. LEGO Group. This is an independent site not authorized or sponsored by the LEGO Group).
We hope that these guidelines will address the most frequently asked questions about using the LEGO trademarks and copyrights. We know that most users of the Internet want to respect these rights, but are not always certain about what is permissible. The Internet provides a great new opportunity for instantaneous worldwide communication which allows everyone’s voice to be heard. Because the Internet is an evolving mode of worldwide communication, we may find it necessary to revise these guidelines from time to time. We appreciate the interest which has been expressed about our company and our products and hope that this continuing dialog will enhance the exuberance we try to create with our products.