Nonprofit Newswire | Giant Toymaker Blocks Tiny Nonprofit Over Use of Name

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March 22, 2010; Pioneer Press | One can only hope that as word spreads about a lawsuit that pits the giant Legos company against a tiny nonprofit called Project Legos, cooler heads in the toymaker’s Danish headquarters will prevail and the whole thing will go away.

At issue, is a claim by the $2.1 billion maker of the familiar interlocking toy bricks that its name is being improperly used by a $150,000 Minneapolis-based, youth-serving nonprofit. In court papers Lego claims trademark infringement, deceptive trade practices and accuses the youth program of trading “off the significant goodwill symbolized by and the strong public recognition of the Lego marks.”

The nonprofit’s founder, Kyle Rucker, describes the lawsuit as a “pain,” and adds, “We’re serving young people in the community, and this is kind of the last thing we want to deal with. We feel kind of bullied. This is a big, bad gigantic organization and we’re a $150,000 nonprofit.”

Founded five years ago, Project Legos stands for Leadership, Empowerment, Growth, Opportunity and Sustainability, and its goal, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, is to help at-risk youth better their lives and their communities. “We have a civic engagement program, we have our youth programs, and then we have new initiatives called Project 8,” Rucker said. “We’re empowering young people to be change agents and realize their power.”

In addition to claims of trademark violations and infringement, Legos also maintains that the nonprofit’s use of the web domain name www.projectlegos.org “has caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm.”

Surely as more and more people hear about the suit and the lengths Legos is going to block the youth program from using its name, there won’t be any confusion in people’s minds about who the bad guys are in this case.—Bruce Trachtenberg