Lego woman allowed to use name for commercial activities


The Supreme Court has allowed a woman called Louise Lego to use the name Lego in relation to commercial activities, despite a risk of immediate association with the well-known mark LEGO for toys (Case 117/2006, November 6 2007).

In 1934 Ole Kirk Christiansen started using the designation 'Lego' for toys. In 1954 the designation was registered as a trademark for goods in Class 28 and later on for goods in further classes. Since then the LEGO mark has been registered by LEGO Holding A/S as a word and device mark in most trademark registries and is among the best-known trademarks in the world. According to Superbrands, LEGO is among the 10 highest-ranking European trademarks.

Louise Lego Andersen was born in 1976. The names Lego and Andersen come from her mother's father, who in 1908 was baptized Ejgil Lego Andersen. Technically, Andersen was her surname, and Louise and Lego were considered forenames.

In 2003 Andersen opened an art gallery under the name Galleri Lego in Copenhagen to exhibit her paintings and drawings. She also registered the domain names '' and '' and used Lego as a megatag on her homepage.

She initiated legal proceedings against LEGO Holding claiming the right to sign her paintings 'L Lego' and to name her gallery Galleri Lego. LEGO Holding claimed that Andersen must cease using the designation 'Galleri Lego', the domain names and Lego as a metatag.

The Maritime and Commercial Court accepted Andersen's right to sign her paintings 'L Lego' and to name the gallery Galleri Lego. However, it ordered her to stop using the name Lego as a metatag and in connection with marketing on the Internet and to stop using Lego as her surname.

Andersen appealed to the Supreme Court. After the appeal was filed and following an amendment to the Act on Names on April 1 2006, Andersen was able to change her name to Louise Lego - using Louise as her forename and Lego as her surname.

The Supreme Court ruled in Andersen's (now Lego) favour and remarked that LEGO is an especially well-known trademark with a distinctive character. However, the Supreme Court noted that Lego was born Louise Lego Andersen and had now simply taken her forename Lego, which the family had been using for 100 years, as her surname.

According to the Trademarks Act, Lego was entitled to use her name commercially provided such use was in accordance with good marketing practice. Following this, the Supreme Court stated that the LEGO trademark is so well known that an immediate association was unavoidable. However, due to the difference in their goods, there was no real risk of confusion. As a result, Lego may use Lego as part of her gallery name, domain name and metatag, and as a search word on the Internet, as this activity could not be considered disloyal, improper or detrimental to LEGO Holding's trademark.

LEGO Holding was ordered to pay Dkr150,000 ($29,830) in costs.

Mads Marstrand-Jorgensen, Norsker & Co, Copenhagen

Unlock unlimited access to all WTR content