EU Court decides on Rubik’s cube trademark fate

At the request of Seven Towns, the UK company which manages the intellectual property rights for the Rubik’s Cube, the EU’s Trademark Office (OHIM) registered the products distinctive shape as a three-dimensional community trademark.

Invented in 1974 by Hungarian inventor Erno Rubik, the Rubik’s Cube is a multi-coloured puzzle that can be twisted and turned around without falling apart. The aim is to make each side of the cube a single colour.

Although it has kept many hands busy throughout the years, its grid structure was bought into question in 2006 by German toy manufacturer Simba Toys.

The company applied to the OHIM to have the three-dimensional mark cancelled, claiming that its rotating capability should have been filed as a patent rather than a trademark.

The case was finally closed on Tuesday when the General Court dismissed the actions of Simba Toys.

The ruling was “crucial for us because trademark protection is significant for the Rubik’s Cube because the main patent lapsed a few years ago,’’ said Seven Towns.

According to the Court, “the black lines and, more generally, the grid structure on each surface of the cube in question do not perform, or are not even suggestive of, any technical function. It’s capability is the result of an internal mechanism which is invisible on its graphic representations.”

The cubic grid structure in question also differs considerably from the representations of other three-dimensional puzzles available on the market.

But the Court noted that the proprietor’s marketing monopoly should be limited to three-dimensional puzzles that have the shape of a cube which bear a grid structure.

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