In the ‘80s and ‘90s, my brother and I dumped bins of legos on the floor and made exciting projects, and quite the mess. Despite my Mom or Dad stepping on a lego or two barefoot or our dog realizing that plastic is not as tasty as a rawhide chew, playing with legos was phenomenal. Scratch the ‘was.’ It is still one of the most amazing things to exist
Even though I went from school projects to work projects and playing house to managing house, I’m 100% certain you could still put a lego set or giant bin of legos in front of me and I would be occupied for hours. Maybe you full-heartedly agree. Regardless, think about this-despite the popularity of the original Nintendo sets all the way to today’s Pokemon Go craze-Legos are still one of the most used and requested toys.
Lego is potentially an all-encompassing word that implies both singular and plural like ‘fish.’ Multiple legos would be ‘lego bricks.’ Just like we are still calling all tissues Kleenex and told to Xerox things when making copies on non-Xerox machines, I’ll give you a pass.
The LEGO Group was founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen. The word ‘lego’ is derived from the Danish words “leg godt” which means “play well.” The company is proud of its history of not only being named “Toy of the Century” twice, but that despite an age of corporate buy-outs and third-party management, ownership has passed from father to son and now to Kjed Kirk Kristiansen, a grandson of the founder. http://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/lego-group/the_lego_history
Despite the founding of the group in 1932, it wasn’t until 1958 that the first plastic interlocking bricks we know were made. Prior to this the small toy shop in Billund, Denmark made wooden toys, stepladders, and ironing boards.” Even before the plastic bricks we now know, the shop had major grown in 1948 when it grew from a few people to 50. At this time, made toy ducks, clothes hangers, a ‘Numskull Jack on the goat’ (whatever that is), wooden blocks, and a plastic ball for babies. http://history1900s.about.com/od/1950s/qt/lego.htm
It seems like 1947 changed the life of the company forever:
LEGO bought a plastic injection-molding machine to produce plastic toys one of which were “automatic binding bricks” produced in 1949…in 1953 these bricks were renamed LEGO Bricks. In 1958, they changed shape to look like legos we know today. By the early 1960s, LEGO had gone international, with sales in Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany, and even Lebanon. In 1964, for the first time, consumers could buy LEGO sets…” http://history1900s.about.com/od/1950s/qt/lego.htm
You may be asking—what about intellectual property? How did the company say “Lego my legos” or something similar? In 1958, Kirk Christiansen Godtfred and his attorneys contacted Mohr IP Law (I’m just kidding-we weren’t around then) to file a patent for “Toy building brick.” You can see the patent here: http://www.google.com/patents/US3005282.
In 1961, Godtfred and his company were awarded their first U.S. Patent. The design called for “hollow rectangular bricks with studs on top and a round hollow tube on the bottom. The LEGO brick was “patented not only in Denmark and the United States, but in many European countries and even some African countries.” http://lego.wikia.com/wiki/Lego_Patent. As you can imagine, over the years there were numerous related patents filed and awarded for things such as the lego man (there are now lego women too as there should be)
Everything was awesome in the LEGO world for quite some time until 1978. In 1978, 20 years after LEGO’s main/major patent was awarded, it had expired. A few years later, Tyco Toy Company started making “Tyco Super Blocks” and put out ads saying, “Which part is Lego? If you can’t tell the difference, why pay more?”
LEGO new their patent expired but decided their own choice was to file copyright and/or trademark claims around other toy companies using generic plastic building bricks hoping that numerous cased in several countries would decide that nobody could make LEGOS except LEGO. https://www.quora.com/What-was-the-effect-of-LEGO-losing-its-patent
LEGO would have been successful had they been the first to create plastic building bricks but it turned out that there was a prior similar plastic brick called “Kiddicraft bricks.” The long and the short of it is that other companies did not have to stop making LEGO like bricks.
People still buy LEGO as a preferred company even though others making similar products exist. But don’t feel bad for LEGO. They discovered licensing and movies and licensing for movie merchandise. And then sets related to the movies. So everything was and is still awesome.
At Mohr IP Law we know all things intellectual property. We have filed both United States and International Patents. Whether you own a toy shop in Denmark or have a two-car garage housing your inventions, we can help you step by step, brick by brick.