“Everything is AWESOME” for Lego Figure Trade Mark
The decision to allow Lego figures to be registered as Community Trademarks has been upheld by the EU General Court.
In 2000 Lego registered the three-dimensional Community trade marks shown below with OHIM (CTM Nos 000050450 and 000050518) in respect of inter alia, games and playthings. The marks will be instantly recognisable as the “awesome” Lego figures:
Best-Lock, a competitor which uses similar figures, applied for a declaration of invalidity in respect of the trade marks, on the grounds, first, that the shape of the goods in question is determined by the nature of the goods themselves (namely, the possibility of joining them to other interlocking building blocks for play purposes) and, second, that the toy figures in question, both as a whole and in their particulars, provided technical solutions (namely, being combined with other building blocks).
OHIM rejected Best-Lock’s applications for a declaration of invalidity. Best-Lock therefore applied to the General Court of the European Union for annulment of OHIM’s decisions. Today the General Court has dismissed Best-Lock’s actions and have upheld the decisions to register the shape of Lego figures as a Community trade mark.
The Court had this to say “Concerning the complaint that the shape of the goods in question is necessary to obtain a technical result, the General Court observes that 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. In addition, the graphical representation of the hands of the figures in question, the protrusion on their heads and the holes under their feet and inside the backs of their legs do not, per se, enable it to be known whether those components have any technical function (such as enabling them to be joined to other components) and, if so, what that function is. Lastly, 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 General Court concludes from this that the characteristics of the shape of the figures in question are not necessary to obtain a technical result.”