March 16, 2016

Leggo Our Legos: Lego's Use of Law and Other Mechanisms To Control Its Brand

Dan Hunter, Swinburne Law School and New York Law School, and Julian Thomas, Swinburne University of Technology, have published Lego and the System of Intellectual Property, 1955–2015 at 2016 Intellectual Patent Quarterly 1. Here is the abstract.
This article traces the ways in which Lego has deployed a range of intellectual property regimes since it first developed the Lego system of interlocking bricks in the mid-1950s, in an effort to exert commercial control over its bricks and System of Play. With the bricks initially protected by patent, Lego has, at various times, used copyright, design, trade mark and trade secret laws in an attempt to prevent other firms from marketing competing interlocking bricks. As the patents have expired, Lego has moved from unitary forms of control over the brick, augmenting intellectual property law with more distributed mechanisms of control and governance. The article describes how the law has influenced the broader evolution of the company, where a focus on engineering has broadened into branding, and then digital media.
The full text is not available from SSRN.

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