Teaching Note | HBS Case Collection | June 2013 (Revised February 2016)

The LEGO Group: Publish or Protect?

by Willy Shih


Senior managers at the LEGO Group are faced with a quandary: Should they patent inventions coming out of their manufacturing process development work, should they keep them as trade secrets, or should they publish them so that they would go into the public domain and nobody else could patent them? They wish to preserve their freedom to practice, but are very concerned about competitors’ ability to benefit from LEGO Group’s R&D investments, or alternately interfere with its freedom to operate.

Keywords: intellectual property; intellectual property management; patents; Spillovers; Intellectual Property; Patents; Knowledge Dissemination; Manufacturing Industry; Europe;


Shih, Willy. "The LEGO Group: Publish or Protect?" Harvard Business School Teaching Note 613-097, June 2013. (Revised February 2016.)