7th February, 2014 / 11.00am - 4.00pm
7th September, 2015
For intellectual property scholars, the Lego brick stands as a wonderful case study in the development of intellectual property regimes in the latter part of the twentieth century. This paper traces the ways in which the Lego company has used every type of intellectual property regime since it first created its system of interlocking bricks in 1955, in an effort to retain control over its iconic brick. With its bricks initially protected by patent, the company has, at various times, sought to use copyright, trademark and trade secret to stop competitors from creating interlocking bricks. As these efforts failed, the company had to change, rethinking its approach to intellectual property and more generally to its degree of control over the brick. By using the primary sources of the litigation material and the issued Lego sets, the paper examines the complex interaction between the intellectual property law, global capitalism, and the cultural environment of the last 60 years. The paper also demonstrates how the Lego company has influenced the development of the international intellectual property system in the postwar period. In a concise and interesting way, Lego is a microcosm of the development of the international intellectual property system, and the firms that rely on it.