Just last week the General Court of the European Union decided in a very interesting case that has been going on for years between LEGO and Best-Lock Construction.
In 2000 Lego registered the below three-dimensional community trademarks for “games and playthings”. The Danish toy giant has now won a 4 year long legal battle against their competitor Best-Lock Construction. Best-Lock was of the opinion that LEGO did not have exclusive rights to the classic LEGO figure, however the European Court of Justice did not agree, and on 16 June 2015 they rejected the lawsuit.
For several years Best-Lock has produced small figures very similar to the classic Lego figure just selling them at a significant lower price. Lego’s trademark rights have excluded Best-Lock from the European market, and the recent decision from the General Court has firmly established that Best-Lock will not be entering the European market in the future.
Best-Lock had applied for a declaration of invalidity of the above trademarks arguing that the shape of the goods in question is determined by the nature of the goods themselves and that the toy figures as a whole (namely the possibility of joining them to other interlocking building blocks for play purpose) and in their particulars, provided technical solutions (namely being combined with other building blocks).
However the General Court has concluded that the characteristics of the shape of the figures in question are not necessary to obtain a technical result.
As a result the world renowned Lego figure is still protected as a trademark. This decision does however only have effect in Europe and Lego is still facing their products being copied in other parts of the world. Lego has ongoing cases like this against both Best-Lock and also other companies where the Lego figure and the basic shape of the classic Lego brick are being copied.
It will be interesting to follow these decisions, and see how the different courts will evaluate the cases.
Maria Dam Jensen, Legal Counsel
 Curia Press Release No 71/15