Thingummys and Holes – How LEGO’s Empire Was Threatened

“EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” At least it is again for Lego since the courts decided that their toys can’t be copied.

But everything wasn’t quite so awesome recently when Lego’s empire was threatened.

Lego protected the shape of the toy figure back in 2000. They had registered the shape of the overall figure as a three dimensional trade mark.

This trade mark aims to stop competitors from copying and selling similar mini figures. A trade mark can only be protected if its look helps it to be recognised as a product of that company. It has to be
unique and have no technical function.

But toy competitor, Best-Lock, challenged the trade mark. By getting rid of the trade mark protection, Best-Lock would no longer be at risk of infringing the monopoly in such figures and may
be able to challenge Lego’s dominant position.

Best-Lock argued that Lego designed the shape of the figures not just to make them look unique. Instead, they said that the shape of the little humans has a technical function.

They claimed that features like the ‘thingummy’ on the top of the head and the holes in the feet and legs help the Lego toys interact and stick to other Lego toys.

So it is of no surprise that everything was once again awesome for Lego when the courts rejected Best-Lock’s arguments. The courts decided that there was nothing technical about those features – the features that make Lego figures ‘Lego’.

Whilst your business may not have such an iconic and well known product to protect, you may be surprised by the commercial advantages that can be achieved from safeguarding your Intellectual Property Rights.   Dummett Copp has helped secure and enforce rights (patents, designs, trade marks and copyright) relating to a wide ranges of products, from cups, bags and barbecues to medical devices, computers and chemicals.

Remember your intellectual property is your asset in exactly the same way as your physical assets, like your house, car or phone – don’t let someone steal it!