Lego Blocks Toy Guns

By Brand Heeler

In what really ought to go without saying, Lego takes action to prevent sales of lookalike guns

Lego has taken action in the USA to prevent sales of an ‘irresponsible’ customisation kit for making real guns resemble children’s toys. Culper Precision, based in Utah, had been marketing its ‘Block19’ on Instagram as an upgrade to genuine Glock19 handguns, disguising them with bright colours and plastic studs to look like they were made from Lego bricks.

Despite a staggering 30% increase in American gunshot deaths involving children during 2020, Culper saw no harm in making and selling real firearms designed to ‘look like the Legos you got from Santa’. It took a cease and desist letter from Lego, and a sanity check from their own lawyers, for them to reconsider. Even then, they seem to have done so reluctantly, citing consumer choice and constitutional rights as justification for their actions.

It is crucial for brand owners such as Lego to be able to retain exclusive control over how their brands are marketed and commercialised. External interference can erode a brand’s reputation, emotional connection and, ultimately, value. Regardless of anyone’s Second Amendment rights (which, needless to say, apply only inside the US), Lego was quite right to react in this manner against an unwarranted misuse of its brand capital. Lego is about toys and play, not death or politics, and its founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, was famously pacifist.

Details of Lego’s letter to Culper have not been made public, but their arguments are likely to have relied on their registered trade marks, as well as their goodwill in the shape, colour and configuration of their products. Culper Precision promoted ‘Block19’ with the rather lame joke that ‘the second amendment [should] simply be too painful to tread on’. In response, Lego has (if you’ll forgive an equally lame pun) come down on them like a ton of bricks.

This article contains our thoughts and opinions on an issue of general interest and is written from the perspective of Australian and/or English law. It is not legal advice and is not provided in the context of a solicitor-client relationship. It may not even be relevant to your jurisdiction. No duty of care is assumed or accepted. Please carry out appropriate research and consult with a suitably qualified legal expert before taking any action or making any decisions.