Framework, the startup that produces modular laptops that are designed to be repairable and upgradable, says it’s in a spot of legal trouble over the design of one of its power buttons. In a tweet, the startup claims to have been contacted by Lenovo’s legal team, who say the circular design of the power button on one of Framework’s designs is too similar to the stylized “O” Lenovo uses in the wordmark for its “Legion” brand of gaming laptops.
“Consumers could believe that Framework’s Broken O Case or the motherboards they cover are produced by, sponsored, endorsed, licensed, or otherwise affiliated with Lenovo, when that is not the case,” a screenshot of the legal letter from Lenovo posted by Framework reads.
The offending power button design doesn’t appear on any of Framework’s laptops. Instead, the circle can be found in the 3D printer case schematics that Framework released back in April, which allow customers to build their own Raspberry Pi-style miniature PCs using just the laptop’s motherboard (these can be bought separately, as well as harvested from a Framework laptop). This YouTube video gives a nice overview of how the 3D-printed enclosure is supposed to work (the power button gets pressed at the 9:35 minute mark).
“It has recently come to our attention that Framework Computer Inc. (“Framework”) has released a GitHub repository of 3D printable reference designs for consumers to print motherboard cases for use with Framework’s motherboards,” Lenovo’s legal team writes. “These 3D printer guides feature a broken O design which is confusingly similar to Lenovo’s Legion Trademarks.”
The @Lenovo legal team says we have to change the power button on our 3D printed case, so we’re opening up a Community contest! Whoever can come up with the best new power button design gets a free i5-1135G7 Mainboard. pic.twitter.com/aBM3xRIzTF
— Framework (@FrameworkPuter) August 18, 2022
I’m no lawyer, but I guess I can see where Lenovo’s legal team is coming from? The power button design found on Framework’s schematics technically has the same three lines breaking up its circular design as the O in Lenovo’s Legion branding, which can be found on its website, as well as being printed directly on some of its laptops. But, on the other hand, it’s… a circle, one used only in a wordmark, apparently, and the other as a functional piece of hardware. But, whatever, lawyers are gunna lawyer.
Framework doesn’t physically sell anything with the offending power button design on it, so fixing the problem is theoretically as simple as uploading a replacement set of CAD files to GitHub. So, rather than fighting Lenovo, Framework is holding a competition for its users to submit new designs for its power button. Entries are open until August 25th, and the winner gets a free i5-1135G7 Mainboard.