Posted by Abe Sauer on September 16, 2010 12:30 PM
As Facebook continues its drive to own the term "face," one toy manufacturer is seeing red over the failure to trademark its brand's iconic calling card. The European Court of Justice has denied Lego's appeal of a 2004 ruling determining that its red building brick is ineligible for trademark protection.
With a "baddie's" name straight out of some kind of children's fairy tale, Lego rival Mega Brands had challenged the trademark request. Lego will not be able to build a further case as the ruling is conclusive.
The BBC notes, "The European Court of Justice found that protecting the shape and function of a product would reduce the opportunities for rival manufacturers to use them. 'Technical solutions are capable of protection only for a limited period,' the judgement said, 'so that subsequently they may be freely used by all economic operators.'"
Mega Brands did not argue that the bricks were ineligible for patent protection, noting that the patent had long since expired.
The Lego brand, of course, long ago evolved past its simple early staple. The building brick empire now has extremely successful brand tie-ins with Star Wars, Indiana Jones and host of other video and gaming properties, including the new Lego Universe.
Lego's best chance against competition now? Brand strength. Hopefully, generations of parents and grandparents who played with Legos will nostalgically want the same for their children and grandchildren.