EU Court Tells Lego Everything Is Awesome

     (CN) – Since the shapes of Lego figures serve no technical function – unlike Lego building blocks – the toymaker is entitled to trademark protection, the EU General Court ruled Tuesday.
     Denmark-based Lego registered a trademark for its figures with the European Union’s trademark office in 2000, but the mark was challenged by a competitor, Best-Lock, which uses similar figures.
     Best-Lock sought a ruling declaring the trademark invalid on the grounds that the figures are essentially interlocking building blocks, and cannot be registered because they provide “technical solutions.”
     In refusing trademark protection for Lego’s red building-block toy, the EU General Court ruled that the piece serves a technical function, and that a trademark might impede innovation.
     Under EU law, a mark consisting of a shape intended to produce a technical result cannot be protected by trademark.
     The General Court released twin rulings Tuesday that deny Best-Lock similar relief as to Lego figures.
     “It appears that no technical result is connected to or entailed by the shape of the essential characteristics of the figures (heads, bodies, arms and legs), as those characteristics do not, in any event, allow the figures to be joined to interlocking building blocks,” the court said in a statement released with the decisions.
     Rather, the figures’ shape is intended to imitate human characteristics, rather than to be used as building blocks, the court found.
     “There is nothing to permit the inference that the shape of the figures in question is, as such and as a whole, necessary to enable the figures to be joined to interlocking building blocks: the ‘result’ of that shape is simply to confer human traits on those figures, it being understood that the fact that the figures in question represent characters and may be used by a child in an appropriate play context cannot be described as a ‘technical result’,” the statement continues.

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