LEGO uses non-licensed IP in AI-generated toy promotion

Occurred: March 2024

Use of AI-generated artwork used to promote LEGO's Ninjago toy line incorporated elements of intellectual property for which it lacked a license, resulting in the company apologising.

The company had posted a series of AI-generated images of Ninjago characters on its website as part of an online quiz. Among these images was a character sporting a headband from the Japanese manga Naruto, a property that LEGO had not officially licensed. 

The offending images were taken down, but only after people on social media had called out the toy maker and questioned why it was using generative AI rather than human beings to create its marketing materials. 

The incident raised questions about AI governance at LEGO, and highlighted the need for organisations to find an appropriate balance between human creativity and automation.

System 🤖

Operator: LEGO
Country: Global
Sector: Consumer goods
Purpose: Generate images
Technology: Text-to-image
Issue: Copyright; Employment
Transparency: Governance; Marketing