Privately owned Danish toymaker Lego has lost a court battle to have its snap-together plastic bricks registered as an exclusive trademark in the European Union.
Lego had argued that studs on top of the bricks made them highly distinctive and, thus, eligible for trademark rights. The Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld a 2008 ruling by the General Court, which dismissed Lego's challenge to the decision by trademark agency OHIM.
"Undertakings may not use trademark law in order to perpetuate, indefinitely, exclusive rights relating to technical solutions," it said.
OHIM had repealed an earlier decision to grant trademark rights for Lego bricks after objections from Canadian toymaker Mega Brands Inc.
Lego, whose name originates from the Danish words for "play well", is Europe's biggest toy manufacturer and competes with Mattel and Hasbro.
Peter Kjaer, the head of Lego's intellectual property section, said. "It is naturally a matter of concern to us that use of the brick by others can dilute the trademark. But the worst aspect is that consumers will be misled."