Lego loses trademark battle

The Lego brick, one of the most instantly recognised toys in the world, cannot be trademarked, European judges have ruled.

The Danish toymaker's basic red plastic brick was the building block for a global toy-industry success. The brick's shape was registered as an EU trademark in 1999.

But the rival Canadian maker Mega Brands successfully appealed to the EU's trademark office to cancel Lego's trademark. The experts decreed that a brick was a technical shape which could not be trademarked.

Lego, claimed the company's lawyers, contains characteristics that set it apart. But the judges ruled that keeping the Lego trademark on the brick design created a monopoly on what amounted to a functional shape.