For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

LEGO: a great British invention

On the surface things look very calm, but who knows
what further IP secrets will come from Legoland ...?
The IPKat has received an epistle from The Right Honourable Professor Sir Robin Jacob, who has kindly taken time out from his crusade against some of the worst effects of the unitary patent system to provide some further information on the history of the LEGO play-brick (on which see this Kat's earlier post here). Writes Sir Robin:
"The Lego story would not be complete without recording the fact that the original Lego brick was a copy -- an exact copy, of a Kiddicraft brick designed and patented (in the UK not Denmark) before the War by Hilary Page.

Chirstiansen saw the potential, improved the moulding, invented the inner tube to improve the grip. But the size and dimensions are Page's -- the brick is imperial, not metric.

Lego never publicly acknowledge this, though they talk about their history.

Page died in about 1957 by gassing himself in his mistresses's oven. Lego bought up any copyrights he had in the drawings for the brick. None were actually ever found, but Lego said the probability was very high that there would have been such drawings and produced a reconstruction.

Thus when they sued Tyco they sued on Page drawings as well as their later ones. In the end there was no copyright in the Page drawings (s.22 of the Copyright Act 1911: there being much argument about whether they were registrable as designs) and no copyright in the Lego re-draws because they weren't original".
This Kat thanks Sir Robin for this information and hopes that it will be put to good use by anyone who is contemplating an update of his 1987 article.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This must go to the top of the list of the Great British inventions that got away and commercialised elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

A simple search does not reveal the original patent in Espacenet;

http://worldwide.espacenet.com/searchResults?DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP&IN=hilary+page&ST=advanced&compact=false

patent number please!

Anonymous said...

- it is in Jeremy's historic article. It is hence a multistep process: click on "here", download pdf, read same, concentrate on footnotes, find the 6-digit GB-number and go to espacenet. I sometimes wish all information retrieval were this simple.

Best wishes,


George Brock-Nannestad

Philip Eagle said...

Did Hilary Page, as the text suggests, actually have multiple mistresses who shared an oven? That sounds an even more interesting story...

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