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Everything is Awesome US3,005,282

Updated: May 2

March 15, 2022

By Robert Cantrell - Registered Patent Agent


At a recent business meeting over Zoom, I had to pivot from an announcement that it was International Awesome Day to a discussion about patents. The catch phrase from The Lego Movie “Everything is awesome” came to mind. So that’s where I went. (And note, I do not represent Lego®, and Lego does not endorse the following.)


The original Lego patent, US3,005,282 was granted on October 24, 1961. The famous building blocks were described as “In a toy building set, a hollow building block of rectangular parallelopiped shape comprising a bottom and four side walls, at least four cylindrical projections….” The patent became the foundation of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.


Lego, of course, did not stop with one patent. The company filed for more than 1,300 patent applications related to its core building bricks. Some of these patent applications pertain to its plastic bricks. Others claim inventions in such related technologies as molding and the composition of those bricks. Underlying the aggregate claims is a system of interconnecting bricks that users can assemble to build greater structures such as toy houses, toy vehicles, and even—with some added electronics—autonomous robots.


Patents, like the Lego bricks themselves, work best when interconnected with other patents. Interconnectivity can mean, for example, a series of continuation-in-parts. It can also mean a portfolio of related patents covering a broader system than could be claimed within one patent alone. The individual patents become stronger by being a part of a greater whole through both the scope of the aggregate claims and the time those claims will be in force.


But a patent portfolio must start somewhere. Somewhere along the way, the first patent of the portfolio is granted, like Lego’s ’282 patent. That patent may be able to stand alone, but it pays to include ways to build from that first patent a structured portfolio of patents where you have stickiness between patents rather than a comparative gathering of loose blocks. Ask yourself: Is your patent portfolio a single brick, a bag of bricks, or a well-constructed, mutually supporting, fortress of bricks?

 

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