40 Years of Minifigures – The Patents

August 29th, 1977 was the date the first patent for the current minifigure was handed in. It’s 40 years today since the minifigures were launched (a year later, in 1978) and to celebrate that, The LEGO Group has sent through a huge pile of images, information and videos, for me to share with you! There’s that much here that I’m going to be spreading it out over the next week. It’s a chance to have a look at some of the behind the scenes goodies! 

Today we’re looking at a couple of the patents, where it all started! There’s also going to be an in depth look at the process of making a minifigure, some old adverts from around the world, some historical photos of the evolution of the minifigure, and more.

DK Minifigure Patent 1977

The original Danish patent is the beginning of the minifigure. While I can’t read a word of it, it’s a very cool looking document. If you’re not sure what a patent is, it’s a legal document that gives its owner (in this case, LEGO) the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention. It also doesn’t last forever – the owner has to renew them to keep them current.

The next page of the Danish patent is one many of us will recognise – the image of the measurements and dimensions of the minifigure. While I’m not sure what the numbers mean, it’s an iconic image from the history of The LEGO Group.

The Australian patent is just as important, as it impacts Australian companies that might be competing. What I like about this one is that it’s readable! It’s also interesting to note the differences. In this one, the diagrams are different.

Australian Minifigure Patent

There’s plenty of detail in the images, so have a read through the document. Below is the last page that indicates the details of the patent on Australian soil. It’s applicable for 16 years, from August 1978. You can click on the image to blow it up so you can read it in full. 

Australian Minifigure Patent 1977

It’s great to see these documents, and very surprising to note some of the details in the Australian one. The company filing for the patent was Interlego A.G., the subsidiary company of The LEGO Group based out of Switzerland. While the Australian arm of The LEGO Group did exist, LEGO was known back then in a business capacity as Interlego A.G, much like now it’s known as “The LEGO Group”. While it’s unknown why the address is Swiss based, it might be because the legal team was based there. Who knows! If you do, get in contact!

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at some more minifigure goodness, so stay tuned. I think it’s going to be a good week!