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The Ampelmännchen is a beloved symbol in Eastern Germany, The East Berlin Ampelmännchen was created in 1961 by traffic psychologist Karl Peglau (1927–2009) as part of a proposal for a new traffic lights layout.

Heckhausen appealed to a Leipzig court in 2005 over the marketing rights, suing Rossberg for failing at making full use of his marketing rights; German legislature rules state that if no use of marketing rights is made for five years, the rights can be cancelled.

The court ruled in 2006 that Rossberg's right to use the Ampelmännchen as a marketing brand had largely lapsed and had passed back into the public domain.

Peter Becker, marshal of Saarbrücken, explained that lights of the East German Ampelmännchen have greater signal strength than West German traffic lights, and "in our experience people react better to the East German Ampelmännchen than the West German ones." Heckhausen continued to incorporate the Ampelmännchen design into products and had an assortment of over forty Ampelmännchen souvenir products in 2004, reportedly earning €2 million yearly.

In the meantime, Joachim Rossberg claimed to make €50,000 per year from merchandise.

East German street signs and traffic signs were dismantled and replaced because of differing fonts in the former two German countries.

The first solidarity campaigns for the Ampelmännchen took place in Berlin in early 1995.

The successful German daily Soap opera Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten used the Ampelmännchen lamp in their coffeehouse set.

"It is presumably their special, almost indescribable aura of human snugness and warmth, when humans are comfortably touched by this traffic symbol figure and find a piece of honest historical identification, giving the Ampelmännchen the right to represent a positive aspect of a failed social order." have since adopted the design for some intersections.

The animated Ampelmännchen stories raised international interest, and the Czech festival for road safety education films awarded Stiefelchen und Kompaßkalle the Special Award by the Jury and the Main Prize for Overall Accomplishments in 1984.

Following the German unification in 1990, there were attempts to standardise all traffic signs to the West German forms.

Markus Heckhausen, a graphic designer from the West German city of Tübingen and founder of Ampelmann Gmb H in Berlin, had first noticed the Ampelmännchen during his visits to East Berlin in the 1980s.