Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Huh?

  • FromCarl Worth <cworth@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateTue, 07 Aug 2007 11:23:01 -0700
On Tue, 7 Aug 2007 12:31:49 -0400 (EDT), Dale Sheldon wrote:
> The pieces themselves I think would actually have a very limited amount of
> legal protection, if any; so if someone wanted to start making and selling
> their own plastic pyramids, they probably could and there's not much LL
> could do about it, as long as you didn't use the (trademarked) words
> Icehouse, Treehouse, or anything similar.
> (Consider Lego: other companies sell little snap-together plastic bricks,
> and at lower costs, too!  Lego still sells though, but only because they
> are higher quality (those other bricks tend to fall apart, or break, more
> easily) and because they keep coming up with new innovations and tie-in
> products.)

You might be surprised. In addition to the LEGO trademark, (which is
certainly very valuable to that company, and I hope Icehouse will
someday be just as valuable to Looney Labs), those little building
blocks have also been subject to patent and (surprisingly!) copyright
protection. The patents seem to have expired in 1988 but there's been
activity since:


It's interesting that using trademark law for the bricks themselves
failed at the Canada Supreme Court in 2005:

	Trademark law should not be used to perpetuate monopoly rights
	enjoyed under now-expired patents.

While in 2002, in China, LEGO apparently successfully used copyright
for the bricks themselves.

That's news to me---I wouldn't have guessed that courts would have
allowed copyright to apply to industrial design that already enjoys
patent protection. But then again, courts do already allow patent law
to apply to software that already enjoys patent protection. But I
better stop right there or I'll get really grumpy about overreaching
laws, (to be clear I think patents make sense for physical objects,
but should never apply to software works). And with that, I'm
definitely onto a [Something] topic rather than [Icehouse] so that's
it from me for now.


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