Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Lego Wars


The Lego wars are raging, and not surprisingly the warfare is made up of intellectual property rights. The Danish building block manufacturer has lost its most significant patent decades ago, and now tries to prevent its demise by claiming trademark and copyrights against competitors. It's a nice example of how a company that was once innovative, and rightly protected so, now tries to milk every legal means to save its neck. Just last month the German Supreme Court rejected the Lego Doctrine, which it established in its 1963 Klemmbaustein case. This doctrine determined that it was an act of unfair competition to produce bricks compatible with Lego's. The reasoning was that each brick is not a complete product on its own, but designed to be part of a greater whole, making the protection against compatibility essential to sustain the business model and protect the initial development costs.

Does anyone see an analogy with the iPod, Apple's own little building brick?

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