It continues with a brilliant idea
Once the fundamentals of the brand and product were in place, the next step was to grow the business to the international footprint we’re all familiar with today. Despite this, the owner at the time in the 60s, Gottfried Christiansen did not have the capability to expand into the USA – so instead struck a deal with Samsonite to produce and sell Lego products in the United States and Canada. In 1968, the first Lego theme park was opened in Billund, featuring model miniature towns made from Lego – with the park expanding to eight times its original size in subsequent years. The year after, Lego released Duplo bricks – which were much larger in size and designed for younger children (albeit still compatible in many ways with pre-existing Lego as they were double the size in terms of their dimensions, hence the name!) I won’t go into the full history of the company, but some other noteworthy points in the growth and consolidation of the company include:
Notably, the latter two along with some realignment of Lego’s business and manufacturing helped Lego return from a bit of s slump in the early 90s – which is largely inconceivable considering their success in the present day. What’s more, as we have all grown up with Lego in one way or another, the love and nostalgia that we all have for the products are passed down through the generations. This has given Lego real sticking power as it appeals to children and adults alike.
- Establishment of an R+D wing in the company to keep manufacturing methods up to date
- Introduction of the first “minifigs” in 1974.
- Development of educational offerings and outreach to schools
- Expert builder and “Technic” lines for older children and adults
- The first “Lego Movie” in 2014 and a host of licensed video games during the 2010s led to the present day
- Licensing arrangements with a range of popular franchises for building sets, including Star Wars, Harry Potter and more.
Protect the idea at all costs
So, Lego, all in all, is a product and a brand which has stood the test of time. And it all stems from one brilliant idea – a single plastic brick. Crucially, as you might expect, a proactive and decisive approach to intellectual property, from the outset of the business to the present day has underpinned Lego’s success. Simply put, IP protection has prevented others from creating products that get too close to the company’s unique look and feel. From the telling of the history above, there have been several key moments when IP has come into play for Lego in significant commercial moments for the business.
What’s more, Lego has been assertive in protecting its IP, especially as the rise of internet commerce created the opportunity for opportunistic attempts to infringe on its products. Most notably was the LEGO Group’s enforcement against LEPIN who were producing sets of building block toys with a highly similar look and feel to LEGO products. (See below).
- Trade marks relating to the iconic name and logo
- Patents and trade marks relating to interlocking brick designs and Minifigures
- Licensing with Samsonite to expand Lego into North America in the early days
- Complex licensing arrangements with other franchises to create the Lego Movie as well as popular sets including famous characters and franchises