NIST Interschool Tactical Robotics Organization
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The Great LEGO Hoax
The Great Lego Hoax

[On Tuesday, June 29, 2004 7:38 PM, I received this email.  At first glance, it looked pretty serious, but further investigations has proved that this was nothing more than a badly made hoax.  The letter I received was as follows]

Dear Mr. Tha An Lin,

  Greetings, I am Johnston Karew of the Lego Trademarks Department of Lego Inc. You may have been informed in advance regarding my phone call; unfortunately you were out of town. Here at Lego we have been informed through a source, that our Lego product, Mindstorms has been used as part of your NITRO organization. We would like to inform you that you have integrated our product as your own, which is prohibited, which is noted in Lego Trademarks Clause 78 Section C.
[after some research, I found that there is not such thing as a "Lego Trademark Clause"]

To simplify this, you have used the Lego Trademark within your organization, which is prohibited, unless prior approval is granted by Lego Inc. Several sources have reported this to us, and we have made several investigations towards your organization and we have found that through your website, you have used Lego as part of the production to your product. This was included under handouts and instructions in your website. 
[true, but isn't that was LEGO was designed for???]

I have been asked to inform you that Lego products; names and other trademarks may not be used without prior approval from Lego  Lego reserves the right to coordinate the uses of its trademarks. According to our customer database, we have not found either your name or your or product on our website.

The Lego Board has instructed me to advise you to remove the Lego product name, and remove any products (in this case robots and other advertisements) from your organization and its website. The Board has already decided that you have been given a mandatory period from July 30th 2004 till July 5th 2004 to remove all Lego trademarks from your website due to the fact you have not
requested for permission to use the Lego Trademarks and Products.

The Board has asked me to remind you of these main points which you have failed to meet:

1. Lego's product name and trademark can only be used for organizations should a License to Show
[what the hell is a "License to Show"????] be granted prior to the use of the trademarks.

2. Lego is only to be used for personal use, without the integration into various trademarks. 
[what trademark? we're obviously not selling anything.]

I would like to inform you that the directors here at Lego are aware about the NITRO website, and how you claim Lego to be the main part of a NITRO robot. Therefore, you are limited until 0000 hours on July 5th 2004 to remove any Lego trademarks and remove the Lego product from your NITRO organization.
[Haha, let's see them make us!]

The Board at Lego has also requested me to inform you that should you fail to remove all trademarks by July 5th 2004, the issue will be immediately brought up to the court of law. Lego clauses also notes that any trademark offenders will be given 5-10 days of a mandatory period to remove the trademarks from any product which is not registered under Lego.
[well, too bad.  Go read the Fair Play Policy on the LEGO website]

Please remember that the penalty for using a Lego Trademark without permission after a mandatory removal period will result in prosecution. The prosecution for this offense (illegal trademark usage) is a fine exceeding $20,000, 10 years imprisonment for the owner/head supervisor of the organization and 3 years imprisonment for each individual associated with the organization (i.e. sponsors, group members and other staff).
[what a joke...  seriously.]

The Lego Company asks you to remove all products with Lego and remove any other Lego Trademarks no later than the end of the mandatory period. Finally, we would like to remind you that you have committed a criminal offense.
[Yeah, sure...  Unauthorized Lego Usage...  Very serious.  Ha.]

Should you have any questions and/or concerns, please do feel free to contact me at [email protected].  [this email doesn't even work]

Thank you very much for your time,
Johnston Karew
Head Supervisor of Lego Trademarks Department

Lego  The Lego Logo, Lego Duplo, Lego Play On, Lego Robotics, Lego Technic, Lego Mindstorms and other Lego products are licensed products of The Lego Group.

The Lego Group 2004
All Rights Reserved

[I also received a phone call at my residence, asking for me.  But little did the person know that my house has caller ID.  Even without that, the fact that there were noises of little children in the background gave them away.]

  [We would like to thank the good people at LEGO� for exposing this imposter, and everybody here at NITRO is grateful to the LEGO� group Europe for designing and making this wonderful product available to us.]
Relation to School
NITRO Meetings
Robot Criteria
Competition Procedure
How To
Contact the Organizer
Frank (Tha-An) Lin
[email protected]
[I got another email, which is weird, because it asks me to do SOMETHING COMPLETE DIFFERENT TO WHAT THEY ASKED ME BEFORE.  Now, you be the judge.]

Dear Mr. Tha An Lin,

Greetings for a good day. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Mr. Ebbe Rommedahl,
the Policy Manager here at �The Lego Group. With the request of the company, I
have been asked to contact you immediately about your failure to remove all
LEGO� trademarks by June 5, 2004 (0000 Hours GMT).

There has been certain questioning towards you, because you seem to think
abusing the LEGO� Fair Play Policy is either amusing or entertaining. I have
been asked to highlight these points. You must be reminded though that LEGO� has
been watching your organization for the last month or so, and is sure it has all
rights to press charges against you at this point.

You abused these areas of the policies�

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
(Policies can be found online at

For the first you have failed to meet two points. First, your organization has
been confirmed as a commercial one (see below). Next, you imply heavily that
LEGO� is affiliated with you, because you refer to it as the main point of your
products (you have also reached �96% Related� on a city based survey, where
people see your website and poll whether or not they believe you are affiliated
with LEGO� or any of the trademarks.

For the second, you have also used LEGO� as a noun. We have printed pages which
state so and are now on file. For example you stated, �LEGO�s is the main thing
you need for a robot�. No registered symbols have been found next to any of the
LEGO� trademarks or the name itself.

Third point is that you have no disclaimer. This gives the public the freedom to
create and build opinions on your company.
Because your website/organization is sponsored (makes money), you are directly
considered to be the manager / organizer of a commercial organization. Through
the information on your website, your sponsorship includes �selling off� parts
of the robots. You are not an authorized dealer. This is another criminal
[A commercial organization is, by definition, an organization which makes money.  NITRO does NOT make money, it is using sponsorships to advance the appreciation for science and technology among students...  These people are annoying]

Sadly, you have brought up another issue. Just three days ago the staff at LEGO�
rechecked your website for the board. We found that you seem to think the LEGO�
Board and Mr. Karew are both working on a hoax. I assure you this is not a hoax,
and this is a criminal offense.

You have claimed us at LEGO� to be hoaxers. You have even stated that we are
foolish people. You even claim Mr. Karew to be a fraud. You have implied we are
poor in the market, and this makes two more offenses. First, you have insulted
the LEGO� Board, which has brought down staff morale. The staff members have
already sent in official notices of their concern. The other offense is you have
brought down the brand name by splattering abusive comments against us. We know
why you weren�t able to contact Mr. Karew, it was because our server was down.
You do not have any right to question us blatantly. This is not some �Great Lego
Hoax� as you claim it to be.

We have also seen that you believe we at �The Lego Group want to shut your
organization down. Mr. Tha An, we are in no position to do so. We want you to
remove all of the LEGO� Trademarks from your organization and also remove LEGO�
completely from your organization. We are unable to shut you down, only the
court can do so (if you are on a licensed company- NOTE: Sources indicate that
your commercial organization is not allowed to exist by law; if true, The LEGO
Company will report this to the National Court of Law). You once again have
implied that we are distinctively awful people. This is not appreciated. You
also imply we have children employed and that is what you hear in the
background. This insult will not be tolerated as a joke. You should know long
distance calls have satellite interference from our UK Office. Your Caller ID
phones do not threaten us.

You should also be informed that you think we are unable to read our own
policies by saying �Yeah sure go read the free-play policy�. We have noted every
offense you have made and is on file with printouts of the NITRO website.

Since you have failed to meet the mandatory period (even if you couldn�t reply,
you could�ve at least removed all trademarks), �The Lego Group IS going to press
charges. I know now that you are fully aware that you have committed an offense
because you have posted notice of your knowledge on your website.

The LEGO.INC wishes to let you know that in the future you will not have access
to any LEGO� products or trademarks.

Your criminal offense is being reviewed once again. We will get back to you as
soon as possible about this matter. Yes, we have already contacted attorneys,
lawyers and juries. They have reviewed the plot, and declared this as a
possibility to the National Court Of Law in Denmark. Other parties that are
requesting that their names be left anonymous are also planning to file your
organization as an illegal one, because you make a profit (in this case
sponsorships), below the minimum wage and you are claimed to be underage. �The
Lego Group (as previously stated) is also going to take part in the action taken
by other parties - should other parties be correct in their statements.

�The Lego Group has strived to produce quality products for toddlers, children
and teenagers. We will not let any abusers stop this from happening.

Thank you very much for your time,
Mr. Ebbe Rommedahl
Policy Manager

Lego�, The Lego� Logo, Lego� Duplo, Lego� Play On, Lego� Robotics, Lego�
Technic, Lego� Mindstorms and other Lego� products are licensed products of �The
Lego Group.
CC: LEGO.INC (In Company Trademarks Department)
�The Lego Group 2004
All Rights Reserved.

  [Once again, I would like to thank LEGO for helping making this club possible.  And we are not insulting the company.  We are of course, insulting the hoaxers who pretend to be from LEGO.]
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