Everything is NOT Awesome. A Lego Brick as a 3D Trade Mark

Rafał Skibicki


This paper discusses the reasoning of the protection of the flagship Lego products – the rectangular brick and the Lego minifigure as the trade marks from the perspective of European Union trade mark system and the Polish legal system. The main part is dedicated to the most important absolute grounds for refusal of trade mark registration, i. e. the distinctive character and the shape of goods necessary to obtain a technical result. However, it is crucial to understand the history, especially the history of legal protection, of both the brick and the minifigure. In the end, the Lego case allows to draw general conclusions about the overlapping of different intellectual property protection regimes and the relation of public domain to the trade mark registration. All these considerations are presented with the use of both comparative and doctrinal method.


3D, trade mark, copyright, LEGO, Brick, patent, functionality, non-conventional trade marks

Full Text:


Show references Hide references


[1]. “Kirkbi" A/S Billund v. Urząd Patentowy RP (2003). III RN 240/01 Supreme Court.

[2]. Christiansen and Al. (1980) Denmark, Patent No. 140394.

[3]. Christiansen and Al. (1980) USA, Patent No. 4,205,482.

[4]. Christiansen and Al. (1982) The United Kingdome, Patent No. 2006028

[5]. Christiansen, G. K. (1961) US, Patent No. 3,005,282.

[6]. Christiansen, G. K. (1962) Denmark, Patent No. 92683.

[7]. Christiansen, G. K. (1964) The United Kingdome, Patent No. 866577.

[8]. Davidson, J. (2014) Lego Is Now The Largest Toy Company In The World. [online], Money. Available from: http://money.com/money/3268065/lego-largest-toy-company-mattel/ [Accessed 15 April 2019].

[9]. Decision of 10 July 2006, Best-Lock (Europe) Ltd. v. OHIM, R 856/2004-G.

[10]. Decision of 4 April 2014, Best-Lock (Europe) Ltd. v. LEGO Juris A/S, R 1896/2013-4.

[11]. Directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2015 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, Official Journal of the European Union (OJ L 336/1), 23 December. Available from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32015L2436 [Accessed 31 March 2019].

[12]. Directive 2008/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks, Official Journal of the European Union (OJ L 299/15) 8 November. Available from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32008L0095 [Accessed 31 March 2019].

[13]. Dobrynskaya, V. and Kishilova, J. (2018) LEGO - The Toy of Smart Investors. April, Available from: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3291456 [Accessed 13 April 2019]. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3291456

[14]. Hunter, D. and Thomas, J. (2016) Lego and the system of intellectual property, 1955-2015, Intellectual Property Quarterly, 4, pp. 1-21, Available from: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2743140 [Accessed 1 April 2019].

[15]. IMDB. (2019) IMDb: The Lego Movie. [online], IMDB. Available from: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1490017/ [Accessed 15 April 2019].

[16]. Judgment of 10 November 2016, Simba Toys GmbH & Co. KG v EUIPO, C-30/15 P, EU:C:2016:849.

[17]. Judgment of 12 January 2006, Deutsche SiSi-Werke GmbH & Co. Betriebs KG v OHIM, C-173/04 P, EU:C:2006:20.

[18]. Judgment of 14 September 2010, Lego Juris A/S v OHIM, C-48/09 P, EU:C:2010:516.

[19]. Judgment of 16 June 2015, Best-Lock (Europe) Ltd v OHIM, T-395/14, EU:T:2015:380.

[20]. Judgment of 16 September 2015, Société de Produits Nestlé SA v. Cadbury UK Ltd., C-215/14, EU:C:2015:604.

[21]. Judgment of 18 June 2002 , Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV v Remington Consumer Products Ltd., C-299/99, EU:C:2002:377.

[22]. Judgment of 19 September 2002, DKV Deutsche Krankenversicherung AG v. OHIM, C-104/00 P, EU: C:2002:506.

[23]. Judgment of 20 September 2007, Benetton Group SpA v G-Star International BV., C-371/06, EU:C:2007:542.

[24]. Judgment of 24 May 2012, Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG v OHIM, C-98/11 P, EU: C: 2012:307.

[25]. Judgment of 29 April 2004, Henkel KGaA v. OHIM, C-456/01 P, EU:C:2004:258.

[26]. Judgment of 6 April 2017, Municipality of Oslo, E-5/16.

[27]. Judgment of 7 May 2015, Voss of Norway ASA v OHIM, C-445/13 P, EU:C:2015:303.

[28]. Judgment of 7 October 2004, Mag Instrument Inc. v OHIM, C-136/02 P, EU:C:2004:592.

[29]. Kirkibi AG v. Ritvik Holdings Inc. (2005) 2005 SCC 65, [2005] 3 SCR 302.

[30]. LEGO, (2018) Annual Report, Billund: LEGO A/S. p.29, Available from: https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/lego-group/annual-report [Accessed 15 April 2019].

[31]. Mortensen, T. F. (2017) The LEGO Group History, LEGO. [Online] Available from: https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/lego-group/the_lego_history [Accessed 17 March 2019].

[32]. National Geographic. (2011) LEGO FACTS [online] National Geographic. Available from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/history/lego-facts.aspx [Accessed 18 March 2019].

[33]. Nicotra, A., (2010) Chapter 9. Hitting the bricks. In: Christopher Heath, Anselm Kamperman Sanders Landmark Intellectual Property Cases and Their Legacy. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer, pp. 135-180.

[34]. Regulation (EU) 2017/1001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on the European Union Trademark, Official Journal of the European Union (OJ L 154/1), 16 June. Available from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A32017R1001 [Accessed 31 March 2019].

[35]. Sara, Q., Tegan, Q. and The Lonely Island, (2017). EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!. [sound recording].

[36]. Skubisz, R. and Mazurek, M. Względne podstawy odmowy udzielenia prawa ochronnego na znak towarowy (2017) In: Ryszard Skubisz (ed.) System Prawa Prywatnego Tom 14B Prawo Własności Przemysłowej. 2nd ed. Warszawa: C. H. Beck, p. 726.

[37]. Skubisz, R., (2015) The acquired distinctive character of a trade mark as a consequence of its use (grounds, dates and proof of use). Białostockie Studia Prawnicze, 19, p. 205. https://doi.org/10.15290/bsp.2015.19.14

[38]. Szczepanowska-Kozłowska, K., (2017) In: Ryszard Skubisz (ed.) System Prawa Prywatnego Tom 14B Prawo Własności Przemysłowej. Warszawa: C. H. Beck, p. 669.

[39]. The act of 30 June 2000 - Industrial Property Law (Dz.U. z 2017 r. poz. 776, as amended), Poland. Warszawa. In Polish.

[40]. The Nacelle Company. (2018) The Toys That Made Us, Season 2, Episode -1 LEGO. [film] Available from: https://www.netflix.com/pl/title/80161497 [Accessed 26 March 2019].

[41]. Tran, A. (2018) LEGO Minifigure Patents for Various Countries. [online] TheBrickFan. Available from: https://www.thebrickfan.com/lego-minifigure-patents-for-various-countries/ [Accessed 1 April 2019].

[42]. Wojcieszko-Głuszko, E., (2010) Zdolność rejestrowa wspólnotowych przestrzennych znaków towarowych (przegląd orzecznictwa). Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego. Prace Z Prawa Własności Intelektualnej, (4 (110)), pp. 131-155.


Copyright (c) 2021 Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology