Trademark Denied to Rubik's Cube Shape

Ruling "sets a damaging precedent" said company's brand manager

rubiksLUXEMBOURG - The European Court (ECJ) of Justice ruled that the shape of the Rubik's Cube is not a trademark.

The European Court of Justice stated that the Cube's ability to rotate should be protected by a patent and not a trademark, which means the shape of the cube alone is not enough to protect it from being copied.

Invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, the multicolored, 3D puzzle has sold more than 350 million, to date, worldwide.

Last November, the puzzle lost its key trademark battle after a 10 years legal battle. The ECJ struck down the trademark of Rubik’s cube, which was owned by a company, stating that the toy's shape was not sufficient enough to grant it protection from copycat versions. The trademark was a three dimensional EU trademark on the shape of the cube which was registered by the UK company Seven Towers, which manages Rubik’s Cube intellectual property rights in April 1999.

"We are disappointed by today’s decision by the CJEU," said David Kremer brand manager for Rubik's in a recent statement. "While the Rubik Brand is fortunate in having other trademarks, copyright, passing off and unfair competition to rely on which will continue to ensure its exclusivity, this judgement sets a damaging precedent for companies wishing to innovate and create strong brands and distinctive marks within the EU, and is not what European lawmakers intended when they legislated for 3D trademarks."

Kremer added, “We agree that a 3D trademark should not infer functionality as that would restrict free trade and misuse the protection, however there are identically functioning puzzles on the market which are not similarly shaped to the well-known Rubik Cube with its distinctive grid pattern (for example spherical twisting puzzles with an identical number of elements), and there are identical looking products to the Rubik’s Cube without any rotating or puzzle functionality, such as a stress relieving soft and squeezable version. Therefore we are baffled that the court finds functionality or a technical solution implicit in the trademark.”

The 3D puzzle is distributed in the U.S. by Hasbro and Winning Moves.

Playthings Staff | Playthings Staff

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