FEATURE: Backing the boffins

Following recent court battles, toy firms are starting to take inventors more seriously.
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There is genuine fear among toy manufacturers that they might develop a hugely successful toy only to be challenged legally and accused of stealing the idea from an inventor who showed them a not dissimilar idea a few years ago, sketched on the back of a fag packet.

I remember being told exactly that many years ago by Lego in Denmark, which is quite ironic, really, when there have always been questions about the origin of its original building block.

The outcome of MGA’s bust up with Mattel may induce a bout of extreme inventor paranoia but, while no fag packets were involved, it has sharply focused attention on the crucial role that the origin of intellectual property rights has played in this business.

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Backing the boffins

Without the creativity of people who invent the toys you sell, you'd be nothing. Why then do people refer to inventors disparagingly as opportunistic Gepettos who charge extortionately? But, in fact, toy companies don't treat designers like fictional characters and are taking them more seriously now, as Jon Salisbury discovers...

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