Lego loses EU court appeal over toy brick trademark
Toymaker Lego lost a court challenge seeking European Union- wide trademark rights for the shape of its toy bricks.
“The Lego brick is not registrable” as an EU trademark, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled today.
The toy brick consists “exclusively of the shape of goods necessary to obtain a technical result” and can therefore not get the EU- wide protection, said the top EU court.
Lego claims the knobs on top of its toy bricks make them “highly distinctive” and eligible for a trademark.
The EU trademark agency said that the toy can’t be protected because its shape serves a technical purpose, a decision backed by a lower EU court in 2008.
While Billund, Denmark-based Lego won an EU trademark on the blocks’ shape in 1999, Mega Brands Inc, Lego’s biggest competitor in the snap-together toys, objected and won after arguing that the shapes of Lego’s bricks serve a clear purpose and can’t be protected.
“It is naturally a matter of concern to us that use of the brick by others can dilute the trademark,” Peter Kjaer, head of Lego’s intellectual property department, said in a statement on the company’s website.
“The worst aspect is that consumers will be misled.”
“Analyses show that 40 to 60 percent of shoppers believe they are buying a Lego product when in fact they are purchasing a different product,” said Kjaer.
The EU court in 2002 clarified for the first time that shapes used for a so-called technical result can’t be protected under EU trademark law.
The court rejected Royal Philips Electronics NV’s bid to block Spectrum Brands Inc’s Remington Products from selling shavers with a triangle-shaped rotating head similar to those made by Philips.