Expired patent of the day: Lego

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33 Responses to “Expired patent of the day: Lego”

  1. rjk509 says:

    Have I been using Lego UPSIDE DOWN all these years?

  2. TK says:

    Now, find the patent for Mega Bloks!

  3. bbonyx says:

    Awesome. I came downstairs during a break while writing The BrickGun Book to see this. I owe that man and his company so much. Childhood happiness, worldwide fame in adulthood, a modestly lucrative endeavor. Here’s to 40 more years! (although the original company and wooden toys go much farther back)

  4. Javier Perez says:

    I thought patents lasted 17 years only. How did this patent last 53 years?

    • Eric Sellars says:

      It didn’t last 53 years.  This particular patent has been expired for a while now.  Although the current term of a patent is generally 20 years from filing, at the time the Lego patent was filed the term was the longer of either 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the filing date.

  5. Djinn PAWN says:

    I thought patents lasted as long as Mickey Mouse…

  6. Mike Baker says:

    Wha??? So, help me understand, does this mean that other toy companies can manufacture these “toy building bricks” legally?

  7. Brian Riggins says:

    About 20 years ago, I had some Tyco-brand bricks that fit together with my lego.  The regular bricks were fine, but the minifigs sucked, and the bricks were the most basic shapes.  I was mostly happy to have more bricks, but  I got rid of the figs.

  8. tyger11 says:

    I want metal Legos.

  9. Tribune says:

    sooo the patent filed in 1958 has a illustration from 1961. Did they remember to patent the lego time machine as well?

  10. Ramone says:

    And LEGO has never been more successful than it is right now. Coincidence?

    • In the 1990s, they weren’t sure what they were going to do; they were losing market share and money to other toys, and it seemed like TV and video games were killing them. They reacted by making the Lego sets more “action oriented” — easier to build with more big single-purpose elements. The entire Lego City was fifteen police stations, seven fire stations, and a gas station with an ATM to rob. Not surprisingly, things got worse — but then, miraculously, they saw the light, and returned to actually focusing on sets encouraging creative building. Now, not only are the basic-block sets (“Lego Creator”) just what they ought to be (simple elements with a lot of ideas), they focus on making highly-detailed complicated and gorgeous model designs for the rest of the lineup. I don’t think competition based on their patent was involved in any of this. None of the knock-offs has ever tried to compete on quality, either of set design or of the basic blocks, and once Lego realized that and stopped trying to race to the bottom, they started winning again.

      • toyg says:

        They’ve also realized the iconic place they held in pop-culture, and started exploiting it in order to diversify: the “yellow-head minifig” has become a very powerful brand that they can use in videogames and books, all the while advertising the original core-product. (I’m actually a bit miffed that all minifigs coming with my new Millenium Falcon set are pink-headed…)
        Pushing out videogames based on Lego sets based on licensed properties (Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter, Star Wars) was a stroke of genius.

    • OgilvyTheAstronomer says:

      Until you clarify the correlation, I’d go with “yes”.

  11. dragonfrog says:

    I had one of these for a while – Tyco branded, but fit Lego bricks.  It was great fun to build stuff while talking.

    It turned flakey and crackly after a while, so I put it in a free box when we moved.  I made some hipsters’ day – they were very excited, even after I told them it didn’t work very well…

    http://www.likecool.com/Gear/Phone/Lego%20Phone/Lego-Phone.jpg

    Edited to add – how the heck to you embed an image? I see other people know how to do this…

  12. jimkirk says:

    I always liked Zaks.  They interface with both Lego and Tinkertoy.

  13. Guest says:

    Let One Thousand LEGOS Bloom.

  14. Glen Searle says:

    I’ve been printing these bricks on my 3D printers. I thought the patent expired years ago.

    Here’s an openSCAD brick generator. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:591

  15. Frederik says:

    You’d think making little blocks that fitt together and turn into models was easy, but so far non of the off-brand lego has been any good. 

  16. andygates says:

    There’s the precision of the moulding, and the composition of the plastic, to consider.  Which is why metal lego bricks will suck: no ‘give’ means they won’t hold nicely. 

  17. Ashen Victor says:

    Screw Lego! Where is my TENTE?!

  18. Jason Jay Stevens says:

    I saw a story a few days ago about a LegoLand themepark opening in Florida, and how there are already several other LegoLand themeparks.
    I don’t know what “LegoLand themepark” means exactly–people dressed like giant Lego people sounds freakier than giant cartoon mice. Curious, anyway.

    • toyg says:

      I’ve been to LegoLand Billund, Denmark, about 15 years ago. The centrepieces were large reproductions of famous buildings, airports, Nordic fjords with dams etc, all in Lego and obviously at reduced scale. Then there were classic rides, at the time based mostly on pirates, which I found disappointing — but I have to say I was more interested in bricks than rides…

  19. Joe Thompson says:

    Interesting that this shows a LEGO “brick” as Fig. 1 that I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen.  Or is that just a cutaway for illustration purposes?

  20. David Krider says:

    I think that has more to do with their licensing of Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, et. al., than anything else. I would have killed to have Star Wars Lego as a kid. (Now I enjoy them as an adult.) By THAT measure, you can chalk up their success to copyrights, and not patents.

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