Lego bricks can’t be trademarked, court rules

Danish toy brand Lego has lost its 11-year legal battle to have its famous plastic bricks registered as an exclusive trademark in the European Union.

Lego had argued that the bricks’ three dimensional shape with studs on top is unique and distinctive and therefore eligible for trademark rights.

However, the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld a 2008 ruling by the General Court, which had upheld trademark agency OHIM’s decision to reject Lego’s application.

OHIM had overturned an earlier decision to grant trademark rights for Lego bricks after objections from Canadian toy company Mega Brands, its biggest competitor.

Lego, Europe’s biggest toy manufacturer, lost the case as the ECJ agreed a product design which produced a “technical result” could not be trademarked.

Distinctive shapes, such as Coca Cola’s glass bottles, are registered as trade marks, but shapes which are exclusively necessary to achieve a technical results are not allowed.

Shireen Peermohamed, partner at Intellectual Property law firm Harbottle & Lewis says the court acted in the public interest.

“The Court appears to have been influenced by the public interest in ensuring that companies cannot use trade mark law to secure a potential monopoly over technical solutions,” he says.

However, she added that the ruling had not closed all legal doors: “Interestingly the court has left open the possibility that Lego could take action under unfair competition laws to object to copies of its bricks.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here