LEGO wins design patent lawsuit against German company in European court News | DW
The General Court of the European Union, the second highest court in the bloc, on Tuesday overturned a decision by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), ruling that the design of the building blocks of the Danish giant of the LEGO toy making is protected by a patent.
Wednesday’s decision came after LEGO appealed the EUIPO’s ruling, with the judges writing: “EUIPO wrongly declared the design of a brick in a LEGO toy building set invalid. EUIPO did not examine the appropriateness of the application of the exception invoked by LEGO and did not take into account all the appearance characteristics of the brick. “
EUIPO sided with German company Delta Sport in 2019, arguing that the design of LEGO bricks was dictated solely by their technical function and therefore only protected for a limited period of time by their design patent – a rule designed to prevent monopolization.
Not just another brick
The brick in question, however, is newer than most LEGO fans know and was not registered for design patent protection until 2010. The flat plastic plate is three studs wide, but these only run down the center of the plate, with the surface on either side being smooth, so the design is clearly not limited to a technical function – a trick that LEGO has used to complete its building kits in order to keep potential imitators away.
The company registered the new brick after the court and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2008 and 2010, respectively, that the classic LEGO brick does not enjoy patent protection because its design is dictated by its function. technical.
“This decision confirms our firm belief that the original design must be legally protected against copying,” LEGO wrote in response to a question from German news agency dpa.
A court decision could signal the end of competitors’ products
The court ruling could soon mean that smaller companies such as Delta Sport, Qman, Blue Brixx, Wange and Cobi will be forced to stop selling their products as originally designed.
The court ruling means that EUIPO must now review an exception clause declaring that “combined parts” with “innovative features” which are “a major marketing factor” can be protected even if they are of a technical nature.
The decision is not the last word on the matter, with Delta Sport having the right to appeal to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court. LEGO critics say the company is using its considerable size and wealth to crush rivals.
Some, however, like Thomas Panke, who was sued by LEGO for using his name on his YouTube channel on toy building blocks, see a bright spot: “Letter from LEGO lawyers can boost sales by 20 to 25 percent. ” Panke says the Danish firm’s attacks on its competitors only give smaller players more press.
js / sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)