back to article Euro court blocks Lego trademark bid

Lego has failed in its bid to register the shape of its play bricks as trade marks. A European court said that the brick shape was functional and that it had to be that shape to operate as it did, so could not be registered as a trade mark. The Court of First Instance (CFI) of the European Communities backed a 2004 decision of …


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  1. CareTaker

    What a load of b'locks

    mines the square one with knobbly bits on

  2. Geoff Webber
    Paris Hilton

    rubber lego

    many years ago (and I mean many) I had some rubber building bricks that had nipples and joined together in exactly the same way that lego does.

    In fact the bonding was even better as the nipples fitted into sockets on the underside of the other brick.

    If my memory serves me well enough there were all sorts of specialised items as well, doors, roof parts etc etc.

    The best bit of all was that you could chew them, something that I would not recommend with the modern hard plastic version.

    Paris for a whole range of sexual overtones (rubber, nipple, chewing, bonding)

  3. Andus McCoatover
    Gates Horns

    LEGO?? How about "Betta Builder"?

    ...That was a building set (like Lego, but the parts were considerably smaller) that I got for my -dunno - 8th(?) birthday. 52 now, so it rates with my revered Hornby clockwork locomotive, or my Meccano Boy certificate.. And that bloody steam engine, ran on methylated spirits, or would've done if my Dad hadn't finished the bottle, whose name I can't recall. Begins with "M". Mahmood? Mahatma? Mustafa? (The engine, not my Dad)

    (Don't bother Googling for Beta Builder - you'll just get a shedload of websites about "Beta testing software, etc) -IT angle !!! YES!!!!

    You could do bugger all with Betta Builder, except make a house - like the ones in Milton Keynes (Little Boxes..), but....when I was a nipper...

    Point is, aint that "Prior Art"?

    (Anyway, Lego's Danish, so who the fuc*k cares)?

  4. andy gibson

    Big blocks

    I always wondered why Lego bricks weren't made in a giant size. You could build your own house - in any colour - in under a day and just dismantle it when you were fed up with the design.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andus McCoatover

    That'd be Mamod, you can still get them.

    As for Lego, by far the best Danish export, with the possible exception of Sandi Toksvig. (NB: I'm vegaterian, so I don't count Bacon, I also don't rate cartoons of Mohammad as a particularly good export...)

    Mega bloks are the vile pretender to the injection molded toy brick market crown.

  6. David Nash Silver badge

    Steam engines

    Mamod wasn't it?

    Those were the days. Whatever happened to them?

    Ah, nothing:

  7. Matt Devney

    Prior Art

    Lego is 50 years old, so the art might be theirs anyway. I suppose all this is because there is a lot of building block toys out there now that ape Lego and have comparable quality (Mega Bloks was laughable 5 years ago - now it is a definite rival, cringeworthy misspelling in the name notwithstanding).

    So why not shapemark the little bloke (minifig to give them the official name)? They can't be 'functional' can they?

    I'm off to build my 497 Galaxy Explorer now. Happy days...

  8. Anonymous Coward

    i bet

    all the other "play block" manufacturers were bricking it !!

  9. Gerry

    It's "Betta Builda"

    It was rubbish...

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Epic fail

    No really. Reading the rebuttal from the Court is a laugh at every sentence.

    It is eminently clear that a brick is a brick, and the Court stated clearly that making it purple didn't change that fact. Good on them for sticking to essentials

    Thank $Deity that there is at least ONE official body that still has a brain and uses it. The Patent Office would do well to thoroughly analyze the situation and derive a few consequences.

    Make no mistake, I was brought up on LEGO bricks, and I have long lost the ability to count the days and weeks of my life that were devoted to assembling things with the various pieces, disassembling the results, starting over again and so on. Lego, the brick, will always have a special place in my heart.

    But the company has lost it in that attempt. Besides, who doesn't know what a lego is ? Their's is a pointless endevour that fully merits its loser status.

  11. Ross Fleming
    Thumb Up


    You mean the Mamod models? You can still buy them, assuming you haven't drunk all your methylated spirits.

  12. Suburban Inmate

    This could go horribly bad

    I forsee a future where the rich kids with the branded Lego mock the poor kids and their knockoff Chinese "Rego" (pronounced with slitty eyes), while all concerned are sneered at by the smug clever kids (i.e. future Reg readers) and their proper metal nuts-and-bolts Mechano.

    Then again... How cheap could China make Rego? A Rego house would probably insulate quite well. Easy to adapt, extend, personalise, etc.

    Hmmm I think I've hit on something there. Who says drinking at lunchtime is a bad idea?

  13. TeeCee Gold badge


    Personally I reckon Vikings are the greatest Danish export, but only 'cos they're apt to disembowel anyone they think might not be taking 'em seriously enough.

    Also on the list should be: Hans Christian Andersen, Elephant lager* and novelty statuettes of the Copenhagen "Little Mermaid".

    I'm sure there are others.

    *For some reason** I can't for the life of me remember what it's really called, but there's an Elephant on the bottle.

    **The obvious one.

  14. Pirate Dave


    can we get a Playmobile re-creation of the Lego court scene tomorrow?

  15. Glenn Alexander

    I am not sure how old...

    ...the Lego-like bricks I have here are, but they are made of Bakelite!

    (And I am so glad no-one - so far - has tried to call them 'Legos'.)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Vikings, I forgot about the Vikings, always the with Vikings. I've only just read Long Dark Teatime of the soul as well.

  17. Polisson

    @rubber lego


    Just in case you are interested.

    I've suddenly realised...I'm far too old to be playing here.

  18. Solomon Grundy

    @andy gibson

    The reason that there were never Lego in the sizes necessary to do anything useful with was because the Danish really suck at practicality. They latch onto an idea and just run with it. They aren't very good at the whole social/intellectual growth thing.

    Witness the Vikings. I mean they had it made and could have conquered the world but they just couldn't get past straight rape and pillage: hence their downfall. Lego will suffer the same fate. By refusing to make bigger blocks they will lose their market dominance when the cinder block makers catch on and start selling tiny cinder blocks with interlocking parts.

  19. Adrian Esdaile

    Courts = FAIL. Again.

    I think Lego's point may have been their dimensions and tolerances.

    There's actually quite a bit of maths invloved in working out an effiencient size for a Lego brick, and the manufacturing tolerances are extremely small. The so-called 'Mega-Bricks' (why is is always American companies that make fake products? They were also the ones who pirated Lord Of The Rings, too - look it up) try to dimensionally copy Lego's product, and I think this is what has Lego pissed off.

    Of course you can't tradmark a rectangular prism - but if you couldn't trademark SPECIFIC geometric shapes we'd all be driving around in Mercedes-badged cars, wouldn't we? I am sure that the coursts beleive that you can only trademark symbols, without realising that the specific 3D shape and proportions of a Lego brick ARE a symbol.

    On a side-note, my wife was quite shocked at my reaction when she tried to add her child-hood "lego" (mega-bloks) to my extensive collection of the real stuff - I was lucky that none of my Lego was despoiled and cursed by touching the heathen mega-blerks. Mucking 'ferkin knock-off shite...

  20. Neoc


    ...the shape(s) should be covered by a patent, not a trademark?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'm 50 and I still have my old childhood "lego"

    But they ain't the Danish variety.

    I always found the 'genuine' lego to be too hard and stiff.

    "What would you like to make today?"

  22. Stewart Haywood

    @This could go horribly bad

    Rego would have to be made out of meramine with red based paint and be chewable!

    The icon, watch out for the rittle yerrow ones.

  23. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    Nothing compares...

    Lego has been the best I've ever seen. No other companies bricks have been near the quality and stability of Lego.

    And I'm with AdrianEsdaile... When I find non-Lego in any Lego, I swiftly chuck it into another container (sometimes the big round one).

    If for some reason I wind up with a wife and kids, the kids will be Lego kids too.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    at the pub last night

    One of my friends was telling me that he'd got his kids some Mega Blox because they're still to young to tell the difference and you get a sheadload for 1p. He assures me they are shite.

    @Solomon Grundy

    I remember a friend of the family who worked in a shop having a whole load of massive lego bricks, they were to duplo as duplo is to normal lego. You just need one size up and it's proper house building time.

  25. Roni Leben
    Thumb Up

    Patents expired?

    It's been 50 years since the basic lego brick (4x2) shape dimensions, tolerances, etc was patented (and probably long expired...)

    Still remember the days I got 853 in 78 and 7740 in 82.

    As an AFOL, now having an excuse of buying Lego for my kid, all I can say after a 20 year pause is that nowadays quality (color, even tolerances - the precise brick tolerance was lego trademark for 50 years!) is sadly much worse than it just to be (when all bricks were made in Denmark) but Legos are also relatively cheaper.

    It's sad though that they are cheaper over the pond even when Lego closed their US factory...

    Also the packaging of large expensive sets (like Technic) is now just a plain box + bags. You can not store legos in them longterm! I still have my 853, 855, 774, 928,... stored in original boxes! Lego should differentiate products - plain box for cheaper sets, old days Technic style boxes for large, expensive, collectible sets.

    Lego, get a grip and go for quality - & continuity. The cost reductions affecting quality you are doing will not bail you out long term.

    And less "war" crap like Bionicle, etc. Heck, all minifigs just to smile, nowdays 3/4 have angry expressions. Even some Duplo figs. When going through a Lego brochure, there's more than half violent themes I don't want to show my kid - as if there's not enough violence in real life & chinese toys.

    No more violence in Lego please!

  26. kain preacher Silver badge

    @Solomon Grundy

    there is Duplo, and legos will fit on top of Duplo.

    Ps Duplos hurt like hell. Has a few scars from being hit with them.

  27. prathlev

    Lego somewhat sucks rod

    I agree with Roni Leben: Lego should concentrate on quality. Their toys aren't what they used to be (a grumpy old man I am! (almost 30!)), at least not the "feeling" associated with the toys. And they're so bloddy expensive. I'm glad I'm not a kid anymore. :-)

    They word in the street is that (some of) their patents have run out. Good riddance; they've had their monopoly, now they're forced to compete on quality.

    (And I'm a Dane btw. And the beer is called "Elephant Beer" literally. Interesting taste maybe, but only for the faint hearted; just 7.2% Vol)

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