It is the one million (actually more likely to be a few billion) dollar question: how is LEGO going to exploit the possibilities offered by 3D printing? The Danish company has always proven itself capable of reinventing itself. Even at a time when video games and interactive toys began to challenge its business, it reacted by embracing the new technologies, and, instead of suffering from the new competition, it grew exponentially through it.
Its video games sold millions of copies and its digital activities, such as LEGO Digital Designer (which is basically an advanced 3D modelling program for LEGO bricks) flourished. However, 3D printing poses the biggest challenge LEGO has ever had to face. By opening up to a digital marketplace for its models it will expose itself to the same risk of digital piracy that hit the content industry (music, movies, video games and software). And yet digital distribution of its toys could open up enormous new business opportunities and allow it to reach new potential customers (as it did for the content industry).
So will it be a risk or an opportunity? “We welcome fair competition, which we believe is good for us, the consumers and the toy industry as a whole”, says Roar Rude Trangbæk, LEGO Press Officer, External Media Relations. “But when it comes to unfair competition, we have always, and will continue to protect our copyrights, trademarks, patents and/or intellectual properties. This means that we monitor how 3D printing is used commercially, and we will take any actions necessary to safeguard these rights – also in order to ensure that consumers are able to distinguish when they buy a high quality LEGO product – and when they are buying something else.” … (Read more)