EU Court not puzzled

Rubik's cubeThe European General Court upheld the 3D trademark of the famous Rubik’s cube.

The case started when the European trademarks office (OHIM) rejected the claim of a German toy manufacturer, that argued the trademark of the Rubik’s Cube should be canceled.

Last week the Court ruled that the manufacturers of the world famous Rubik’s Cube could continue to receive trademark protection for the EU. The intellectual property rights of the Rubik’s Cube are managed by Seven Towns, a UK company.

German toy manufacturer, Simba Toys, had argued in a case brought to the OHIM back in 2006, that it was the toy’s technical rotating capability that made it unique. A technical solution. And since trademark protection excludes all technical aspects of a product – for this we have patents – its registration should be cancelled, according to Simba Toys.

However, the court ruled that the “essential characteristics of the 3D mark, are the cube per se, and the grid structure which appears on each of its surfaces.” Also, the court notes that a key part of the mark are the bold black lines crisscrossing the surfaces of the cube, which “are not suggestive of any rotating capability of the individual elements of the cube” and therefore do not represent a technical solution.

Furthermore, the internal mechanism is invisible underneath the graphic representations.

Finally, the court states that the Rubik’s Cube trademark does not limit other manufacturers from creating and marketing three-dimensional puzzles with rotating mechanisms. It only protects the shape of the cube bearing a grid structure. Well, that pretty much covers all Rubik’s cube look-a-likes.

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Erwin Hauër

“Hope is not a strategy.”



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