Zoë Blade's notebook

Lego clone

A Lego clone, affectionately known as bootlego, is an exact replica of various Lego parts made by third party manufacturers, usually in China. This is in much the same way that NEC clones microprocessors and microcontrollers, Behringer clones music studio equipment, and Aldi clones groceries.

Some manufacturers go as far as to extend the range of parts with novel variations, or at least extend the colour options of existing parts. Gobricks is a notable example.

Without going too far into the ethics of clones, I'll note that The Lego Group's first plastic brick was itself originally a clone of a Kiddicraft product[1][2][3] given to them by the man who sold them their first imported plastic injection moulding machine.[4][5][6] The Lego Group's chief innovations with the brick were to add the hollow tubes on the underside that make them grip better,[7] rigorously standardise and extend the range of parts, and make sets out of them.

The Lego Group clamps down hard on any third parties trying to manufacture their own minifigs — although its minifig patent seems to have expired in 1992,[8] its minifig shape trademark can be perpetuated indefinitely.[9] These kinds of clones are therefore best suited to building unpopulated models, such as microscale or Technic models.

References

  1. "Improvements in Toy Building Blocks" Harry Fisher Page, UK Patents, 1939
  2. "Improvements in Toy Building Blocks" Harry Fisher Page, UK Patents, 1944
  3. "Improvements Relating to Constructional Toys" Harry Fisher Page, UK Patents, 1939
  4. "A Mr. Printz, the managing director of Hoffmann & Co., and the person who sold Ole Kirk the Windsor machine, came to visit Billund. He'd just returned from England, bringing with him a box filled with small, bricklike plastic blocks in various colours, which he'd seen at the British Industries Fair in London. Perhaps, he suggested, Lego could make something similar once the Windsor moulding machine arrived in Denmark and was set up in Billund. Ole Kirk was spellbound by the English bricks, which were hollow and featured studs on the top." The Lego Story Jens Andersen, 2021, ISBN 978-0-06-325802-0, p. 79
  5. "The origin of Lego's very first plastic bricks isn't in dispute. Godtfred explained on several occasions that they were inspired by the English firm Kiddicraft, founded by Hilary Fisher Page in the 1930s." The Lego Story Jens Andersen, 2021, ISBN 978-0-06-325802-0, p. 83
  6. "The case was also heard in Hong Kong in 1986, and that was the first time Godtfred told the detailed story of Lego's development of Hilary F. Page's 'Self-Locking Building Bricks' under oath, admitting that they'd copied the English bricks 'very carefully,' as was noted in the court transcript. It was a difficult moment for Godtfred. While in strictly legal terms he'd never acted illegally in relation to Page and Kiddicraft, he'd nonetheless always felt twinges of guilt." The Lego Story Jens Andersen, 2021, ISBN 978-0-06-325802-0, pp. 241—242
  7. "Toy Building Brick" Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, US Patents, 1958
  8. "Toy Figure" Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, Jens Nygaard Knudsen, US Patents, 1978
  9. "The General Court Upholds the Registration of the Shape of Lego Figures as a Community Trade Mark" General Court of the European Union, Jun 2015

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