LEGO has released a statement to disallow 3rd party logos, names of organizations and trademarks on customized minifigures, the minifigure design which LEGO holds the registered trademark to.
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.THE LEGO GROUP
To us, the statement basically discourages such practices and informs the community that it is not allowed as it will dilute the exclusive rights to the Minifigure design over time.
This is what we understand as a rough definition.
First party : The LEGO Group
Second party : Organizations/individuals who have an agreement with The LEGO Group
Third party : A person or group besides the two primarily involved in the situation
What we think this means to organizations/businesses
No name, logo, symbol, or other representative indicia of another entity is allowed to be printed on a minifigure without an agreement with the LEGO Group.
What we think this means to the individual who wishes to print on minifigures
Nothing much has changed. You can still print your own designs / names , just not trademarked/registered ones. You couldn’t previously randomly print a Nike/Mcdonalds logo and sell/give them away.
There is still a lot of middle ground left with questions such as personal group logos, homages etc and we will update this article once more information is available
Reading the statement, our personal understanding using an example from our local Singapore promotions with such prints:
“I’m lovin’ it more” Print on torso – acceptable – not a logo, symbol or representative indicia?
“Grab” Print on Legs – unacceptable – third party logo
“Grab x M , M” Print on other bricks – acceptable – not printed on the minifigure