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Last Updated: Thursday November 13 2008 15:27 GMT

Toy wars over plastic Lego bricks

Lego bricks

Lego's famous tiny building bricks are at the centre of a big row between the Danish company that makes them and Mega Brands, who make a similar toy.

It's all about trademarks, which is an official thing companies use to protect their brands.

In 1999, legal experts for Lego went to court to try to protect the design of their famous bricks and stop other companies from making anything similar.

But Mega Blok's makers said that wasn't fair. Now a judge in Europe has agreed.

Lego stats
Lego (credit: The Little Artists)
Credit: The Little Artists
Kids spend 5 billion hours a year playing with Lego
More than 400 million people will play with Lego bricks this year
On average, every person in the world owns 62 Lego bricks
About seven Lego sets are sold every second
Lego is sold in more than 130 countries
33,824 Lego bricks are made every minute
Canadian toy firm Mega Brands, which make Mega Bloks, argued that the design and shape of Lego's plastic bricks shouldn't belong to just one company.

The judge's decision means they can carry on making their plastic brick toys.

But the row isn't over yet - Lego say they will go back to court to appeal the judge's decision.

History

Lego was created in Denmark in 1932 when carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen began making wooden toys.

Two years later he stumbled on the Lego name by putting together the first two letters of the words Leg and Godt, which mean "play well".

In 1947, he started using plastic to make the bricks before patenting the idea a year later, which means he officially claimed it as his invention so no-one could copy it.