Lego: unprotected bricks, standing strong

Everyone knows Lego, the colorful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts. It can be assembled and connected in so many ways that the possibilities are endless.

The toys were originally designed in the 1940s in Denmark. But Lego also has a long and interesting IP history.

Of course there is the trademark LEGO®. Both for the word mark as well as the famous logo, that went through some major changes over the years.

And there were also the patents on the brick construction. But patents expire, which caused problems for Lego’s uniqueness. Several third parties were making ‘generic blocks’ that could fit onto original Lego bricks. Lego tried to protect their bricks by filing for a 3D trademark. Smart, because a trademark can be valid for eternity, so that the bricks would be safe from harm. Forever.

The European Court of Justice, however, defined the distinction between the application range of technical property rights (such as patents) and the application range of trademark law at the end of 2010. According to the ECJ, there is no room for an overlapping of both IPRs. Thus, no more rights protecting the Lego bricks. Although this may have come as a blow to Lego, the bricks’ popularity remains unchanged.

Wanna see how the bricks are made? Check our this video.

 

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© image by Stefano Tartarotti

Erwin Hauër

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