We reported on Lego’s overreaching years ago here and here. They tried to use trademark rights as a way to protect the design of their toy and avoid competition. But that is not what trademarks are, much less what they are for. And now, barring a successful appeal, a European court has ruled that the shape of a Lego brick is simply not a trademark:
Lego, the biggest toymaker in Europe, lost a European Union court decision Wednesday over trademark rights for the shape of its famous toy bricks.
The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg rejected Lego’s challenge to a 2006 EU trademark agency decision.
Lego had argued that the knobs on top of its bricks made them “highly distinctive” and eligible for a trademark. The agency ruled the toys could not be protected because their shape served a technical (functional) purpose.
The two rows of studs on top of Lego’s toy bricks perform a “utilitarian function” and are not “for identification purposes in the trademark sense,” according to the trademark agency, which is based in Alicante, Spain. . . .
EU trademark law “precludes registration of any shape” that is “sufficient to obtain the intended technical result,” the court said. This is the law “even if that result can be achieved by other shapes.”