Preserving the integrity of the LDraw name

The Steering Committee has found it necessary to clarify the meaning of the name LDraw and how it relates to the vast array of LEGO-style CAD tools. This document explains some issues regarding the use of the name 'LDraw,' the potential problems, and the remedies. Please take the time to read through this document carefully.

Historical Context

Over the past few years, many new and exciting developments have come to the LDraw system of LEGO-style 3D modeling. As a result of some popular developments, the LDraw name has become diluted in outside media references. This is the reason the developers of the website would like to ask for your assistance in building up the notion of a centralized website for everything LDraw-related.

LDraw is now more popular than ever dreamed by the Jessiman family and by any of the original users and developers. We have a user base estimated in the tens of thousands worldwide. For this reason, the issue of 'brand awareness' if you will allow, is of particular importance ot us.

It has been noted in a number of outside media articles on LDraw topics that often particular editors are referred to above LDraw. This is believed to be for multiple reasons:

  1. The current popularity of the editing software.
  2. The misconception that the particular editing software is a self-contained unit with its own original parts library and file format.
  3. The popular notion that the name 'LDraw' only refers to an archaic DOS editor/renderer which is difficult to run for some users.

Definition of 'LDraw'

For this reason, the very idea of what LDraw is needs to be redefined. LDraw is now a system, it is no longer just the DOS program which started it all. In fact, it has been a system since the very day other people began writing their own editors, converters, and renderers for the format. But it has not been thought of in that way. For one reason or another, more often than not because of how LDraw was presented on this very website, the general user populus has come to recognize current popular titles as somehow higher in the pyramid than LDraw itself.

In fact, LDraw is the foundation upon which all of the thrid-party software applications operate. Each of them uses the LDraw file format as a medium to model LEGO-style creations in. The file format was renamed from .DAT to .LDR to preserve a unique identity. This document has been written for the very same reason - to preserve a unique identity for LDraw.

How You Can Help

With all of this in mind, the caretakers of the website, file format, and parts library make this request to all people who are referring to the LDraw System Of Tools in their media articles, personal websites, and personal communications;

When referring to the LDraw System Of Tools, or 3D LEGO-style modeling using the LDraw System Of Tools, please use the proper name 'LDraw.' This is important because it is counterproductive to the building of a community when indidividual editors are referred to apart from the whole system. An 'editor' here means a third party software application which allows a user to create and edit LDraw models (such as MLCad, LeoCAD, BrickDraw3D, etc).

If a person would like to refer to a specific editor, or other subset of the LDraw system (such as a file converter or renderer), please refer to it using wording such as '[program name], a part of the LDraw System Of Tools available at' Particular wording is not as important as the reference to the greater system. This reference can be made at any place when referring to the editor (or other subset). It is just as acceptable to make the reference in a footnote as it is to make the reference in the same sentence or paragraph - the important part is that the reference is made, not where the it is located.

Also, historically the word 'LCAD' has been used by the community to describe LEGO-style CAD systems. Unfortunately, the use of this word has caused some confusion with users as to the name and location of the official LDraw site. The organizers of the website would like to request that people NOT use this word when referring to LDraw.

So long as a reasonable effort is made by users to refer to the central site,, our goal will be achieved. It is important to all of us here at the site to advance the LDraw System Of Tools to the fullest extent possible. So, how LDraw is referred to in media references and by word-of-mouth is important to the growth of the LDraw user community. Your help is appreciated in promoting the spread of LDraw as a free method of creating 3D LEGO-style models.

The use of the name 'LDraw' in LDraw related programs uses the LDraw trademark with permission from the Jessiman Estate, therefore we cannot grant permission to third parties to use it. It is also our definition that the LDraw trademark represents the LDraw System of Tools and the LDraw Parts Library, so it is our policy that LDraw should not appear in a program's title and/or URL to protect the uniqueness of the LDraw trademark.

We recommend that programs/websites wishing to identify with LDraw choose titles that add "LD" in front of the name as a way to associate the program as part of the LDraw software family.

Still questions?

If you still have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us. Please take a look at our Contact Page for more information.

The LDraw Steering Committee

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