Originally created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam, the dolls became popular in several European countries during the early 1960s, shortly before they were introduced in the United States. Dam, a poor woodcutter, could not afford a Christmas gift for his young daughter Lila and carved the doll from his imagination. When other children in the Danish town of Gjøl saw the Troll Doll, they wanted one as well and Dam began selling them locally. The originals, also called “Dam Dolls”, were of the highest quality, featuring sheep wool hair and glass eyes. Their sudden popularity, along with an error in the copyright notice of Thomas Dam’s original product, resulted in cheaper imitations and knock-offs which flooded the American and North American shelves.
The DAM company never stopped making the trolls in Europe, where they were always a popular item. In the late 1980s the DAM trolls started making another come back in North America. The E.F.S. Marketing Associates, Inc (located in Farmingdale, New York) was one of the few corporations which was granted permission to import and market the Thomas DAM trolls for re-sale in the United States. These DAM Trolls were marketed under the trade name of ‘Norfin (R) Trolls’, with the Adopt A Norfin Troll logo on the tags.
Some imitations, also known as Uneeda’s Wishnik Trolls, Treasure Trolls, Gonks, and other trade names, commonly shared the signature tall hair, lovable face and pot belly. It was not until 2003 that a Congressional law allowed the Dam family of Denmark to restore their original U.S. copyright and become the only official manufacturer once again. A division of Uneeda, a company that made millions of dollars various times by manufacturing Troll Dolls in the U.S., challenged the restoration of that copyright in court. They lost when the court ruled that the Dam Company was the sole owner (info from Wikipedia).