The Framework Upgradable Laptop Got Lenovo's Lawyers Angry, But Their Response Is Epic

The world of brand names and logos is quite an exciting one from a design learner's perspective, and a green pasture for intellectual property lawyers. It's not surprising to see a deep-pocket multinational company coming down hard on an upstart with a name or logo that is either a blatant rip-off, or even remotely similar. From Instagram going after an anti-littering app called LitterGram to Starbucks losing royally to the Bull Pull Tapioca chain in Japan, there's a ton of unending branding drama out there. 

PC giant Lenovo is the latest name to enter the fray. The Chinese consumer tech behemoth sent a legal notice over the similarity of its gaming brand's logo with the power button on a PC case from Framework, a company known for making user upgradeable laptops and PCs. At the heart of the brewing trademark tussle is the broken "O" design seen on gaming PCs and peripherals sold under Lenovo's Legion sub-brand.

The Legion insignia looks almost identical to the design of the power button on one of the modular PC cases offered by Framework. The upstart recently released the 3D-printable reference designs for the modular desktop case on GitHub, letting buyers print their own case in whichever color or modified form they want. Following the trademark pressure from Lenovo, Framework has decided to make a course correction, but in a rather pleasing way.

Handling it with class

Sharing a picture of the legal notice from Lenovo alongside the relevant section of the PC case on Twitter, Framework has announced that it will change the design of the power button. But instead of deputing the task to its own team of designers, Framework is asking fans to come up with their own design ideas for the power button.

In a subsequent tweet, Framework added that the all entries for the community contest will be "judged subjectively by our CEO" and that the last date for submissions is August 25. The winner will be revealed a day later and will be rewarded with one of Framework's customizable motherboards powered by an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor. 

Framework's approach is a breathe of fresh air in an ecosystem where trademark battles quickly get ugly, insults are hurled, and bullying is rife. Instead, Framework is graciously conceding the fault with the design similarity and is turning the whole saga into a community-building opportunity. Not all trademark squabbles take this route.

Take for example Meta, previously known to the world as Facebook. An Arizona-based PC-building startup named Meta PC filed the trademark for "Meta" a couple of months before Facebook changed its name, and offered to settle for $20 million to let go of the name. Another company named MetaX is dragging the tech giant to court for similar reasons.