Bricklink updates ToS, causes furor [News]

Following the acquisition earlier this year of by gaming mogul Jung-Ju Kim, Bricklink has begun to make changes to their site in anticipation of a complete site overhaul. One of their first steps has been to roll out a new ToS. Bricklink appears to also be claiming the exclusive rights to the common naming system for LEGO pieces, through threatening legal action to competitors. This is intended to protect Bricklink’s market dominance from newcomers like Brick Owl. It is natural that Bricklink takes reasonable steps to protect its interests, but they may have stepped too far with this claim. Our friend Tim Johnson over at The New Elementary has an excellent write-up covering the issue.

11 comments on “Bricklink updates ToS, causes furor [News]

  1. ThePaleMan

    They are also VERY bad about returning messages to the admins. I have contacted them several times regarding an technical issue with removing items from my store, and not a single response.

  2. ThePaleMan

    In addition, the legality of their claims regarding the way ‘they’ label and number parts would likely hold little standing in court since most – not all – of those names come straight from TLG, and of course all the numbers are from TLG.

  3. wyldjedi

    I had a feeling some sort of unfriendly changes would happen when BL was bought out by a Chinese company, whether due to increased fees, or some type of anti competitive decision. I love BrickLink due to the sheer availability of parts vs competitors; you will have a difficult time finding more parts and with generally cheaper prices anywhere else. To a point I understand what BL is trying to do, but at least some of it is a slap to the face to the site contributors and probably not what the original creator of BL would have wanted. I checked BrickOwl last month and the selection seemed very low; but I had not realized just how new the site was. I want to help out BrickOwl, but I am only a buyer, so I can only go where the prices and quantities meet my needs. Hopefully BL chills out, but I won’t hold my breath.

  4. davee123

    @ThePaleMan – Part labeling is tricky– LEGO has internal part names, many of which match BrickLink (technically, LEGO could sue much more easily), but many of these weren’t released publicly until the release of Pick-A-Brick and LDD. BrickLink initially took its element numbering and element descriptions from LDraw, which would have a much better claim to a lot of that data.

    I don’t really know what the legal issues would be– most of the places that would be hard-hit would be descriptive names for specific torsos, heads, sticker sheets, etc, where BrickLink has come up with some useful information, and could at least lay claim to creating that data.

  5. Chris Post author

    I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t believe even LEGO would have standing to sue a reselling website for using the proper parts names. Ford can’t sue eBay for selling a Ford F-150 just because eBay calls it the same thing Ford does. There might be grounds for legal action if a third-party company were selling non-LEGO pieces using the same names, but since the product being sold is an official product (just on the secondary market), I don’t see that there’s much legal grounds for LEGO or Bricklink to sue over names.

  6. Blake Baer

    This is ridiculous. The names in the Bricklink catalog and database are made and compiled by the community and TLG, and Bricklink Limited is trying to claim rights for it? It would seem Bricklink 2.0 is no longer focused on serving the community as the previous Bricklink was designed to do, but is instead concerned about limiting monopolizing at the expense of the community.

  7. theBrickBlogger

    This would have never happened if BrickOwl wouldn’t have been so tounge-in-cheek about copying and syphoning everything directly from BrickLink and specifically targeting BrickLink buyers and sellers to migrate over to BrickOwl – which of course angered BL’s new owners. I’m not saying I fully agree with their response, but it was inavitable.

    I’m not sure if the new owner’s realize how much this effects the whole community though. The BL database is the most important reference guide LEGO fans have. They sould keep that open to the community like before. There are other ways to deal with competitors… the most important being is to work on releasing BL 2.0 as soon as possible. BL’s competition would disappear (or would never happen in the first place) if 2.0 would have been released already.

    One of the most disturbing thing about this whole incident however is that with all the discussions going on in the BL and BO forums, there is no response from BL’s owner. Although he was initially introduced as an AFOL, my feeling is that although he may be a LEGO fan to some extent, he has very little experience and contact with the AFOL community. Going all heavy and treatening LEGO fan-sites with legal action would have never happened if he actually knew this community or what BL means to the community. And look what’s happening now; all the major and minor LEGO fan-sites and blogs are talking about this, giving BL a really bad name. If the owner was an AFOL he should have anticipated this was going to happen… but he obviously didn’t… so what kind of LEGO fan is he anyway? Can we trust him to serve the LEGO community like Dan did?…)c:

  8. Gomek

    I have to say, I’ve been worried about changes to Bricklink ever since the new ownship has been announced. Like many AFOLs I know bricklink like the back of my hand. Any change in the way the site allows me look up and sort though data would seriously hinder my ability to make purchases (as I base my purchases on a lot of cross referencing)

    If I were the new owners I would be incredibly apprehensive about making changes to a website that is so loved and so complex.

    Personally I hope the changes in BL 2.0 are minimal as I loath the thought of having to learn the complexities of another Lego buying site (being Bricklink 2.0 or a competitor)

  9. theBrickBlogger

    Gomek, I’m also really hope that 2.0 is not going to change as far as the structure of the site. However BL 2.0 is a must. The site’s coding is extremely outdated, and dangerously full of security holes. That’s why so many features of the site are not working currently. And it is not possible to just continue patching it up. It has to be completely re-written.

    What I have heard is that 2.0 will initially be the same or very similar to the current BL set-up, but written with modern code. Then, features that members have not been able to use since the site was hacked will be fixed, and also new features that members have been requesting for a long time added. I hope this is true…

  10. Marc Fleury

    One good thing is that BrickLink Admin agreed to take down my contributions. (I am Figbits there, and I started the enormous “Please delete my catalog contributions” thread on the forums on Wednesday morning:

    He emailed me back asking if I still wanted that done, and stated that he would do so if I wanted. (He had actually started to take them down already before messaging me.)

    So, if anyone else feels cheated by the TOS change, it does appear that they will honor take-down requests that are sent in through the help desk.

  11. gambort

    Back in the day Peeron and LDraw worked together on naming, while Bricklink tread their own path and were precious about their naming. So it’s hardly surprising they’re taking action against a competitor which is using (in their opinion) their intellectual property. Let the lawyers decide.

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