Business Diary: A crack in Lego's brick wall

Sunday 23 October 2011 09:05

Bad news for Lego, the Danish toy manufacturer with which the world has grown up. Its bricks – specifically the most basic 4x2 block – have long been protected by European trademark law, preventing rivals from offering similar products. Now the European Court of Justice has upheld a complaint from Canada's Mega Brands, the maker of Mega Bloks, that trademark protection can't be extended to a shape in this way. There's no room for sentimentality in the courtroom.

Taking liberties with language

Debenhams is a much-loved high-street institution, but surely it can't just reinvent the English language? The retailer seems to think it is acceptable to use the word "anniversary" as a verb. "This will anniversary as we move into the first quarter of 2011," its market update says of one of its businesses. Worse, the idea is catching on. Here's Investec on Marks & Spencer's progress: "Better-balanced autumn ranges should allow M&S to anniversary tougher comparisons". Stop it please.

Businesses told to hire humans

A stern warning arrives from law firm Boodle Hatfield. From 1 October, "all companies must have at least one human director", under new legislation. That begs all sorts of questions – not least which companies are run by animals, or even aliens? And while many of us have bosses we might wonder about sometimes, surely every company has a human director already? Apparently, the regulation applies to subsidiaries of companies where the only director is the parent firm. More boring than we hoped.

Swiss raiders return to UK

Representatives of Lucerne sent delegates to London this year to tempt high-earners with those cheap Swiss tax rates. Now the Relocate to Switzerland group is back, with a newsletter that rather unkindly takes great pains to highlight Britain's growing national debt (the implication presumably being that rich folk who don't leave the country will have to pay all this borrowing off). Hands off our wealthy, guys.

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