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EU court could scrap Rubik’s Cube trademark

The trademark for the shape of the Rubikʼs Cube, a Hungarian invention, should be abolished as it is essential to the functioning of the Rubikʼs cube puzzle, and makes it more suited to patent protection, European Court of Justice Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said yesterday according to reports.

The opinion of the EU court adviser came after an almost ten-year-long battle over the trademark for the shape of the Rubik’s Cube, issued by the EU’s trademark office in 1999. The battle was launched by German toy manufacturer Simba, which asked the office to cancel the trademark issued to U.K.-based Seven Towns, a firm solely managing the intellectual property rights of the Rubikʼs cube, according to reports. Simba said the shape of the cube involves a technical solution that provides the puzzle with rotating capabilities, and such capabilities should be protected by a patent not a trademark. After the trademark office rejected the request of the toy manufacturer, Simba took the case to the EU’s high court. 

“In order to carry out a proper analysis of the functional features of the shape, the general court should have first taken account of the function of the goods concerned, namely the three-dimensional puzzle, that is to say a brain-teaser consisting of a logical arrangement of movable elements,” Szpunar wrote, according to courthousenews.com. “Had the general court taken account of that function, it could not have rejected the appellantʼs claim that the cube in question will be perceived as consisting of movable elements divided by black lines,” Szpunar added, according to the portal.

Szpunar said that the trademark for the cube harms international competition as the trademark holder could “extend its monopoly to the characteristics of goods which perform not only the function of the shape in question but also other, similar functions”, according to the portal.

The European Court of Justice, which has been deliberating the case, is not taking the opinion of Szpunar as binding, according to reports.