The Mind-Boggling Rubik’s Cube
I’m sure most of us would have certainly asked our parents for the Magic Cube to play with, as a child. Whether we solve the puzzle or not, as kids, we would have been enchanted by the colorful cube and twisted it (and probably broken it to pieces) in all possible ways to get it right.
The Rubik’s cube is an invention from Hungary by Erno Rubik. I recently came across the same ‘Rubik’s Cube (which I like to call ‘magic cube’ though all the magic to solve it lies in our own head!) and began wondering about its underlying Intellectual Property rights.
3D mark of Rubik’s Cube – What ECJ had to say
Incidentally in a judgement in November 2016, the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled against the famed Rubik’s cube. Following a long trademark battle between Rubik’s cube and the toy company Simba Toys GmbH, which ultimately reached the doorsteps of European Union Court of Justice, the ECJ had ruled against the Rubik’s Cube’s 3D mark ‘ three dimensional puzzles,’ broadly put, observing that the said cube imbibes functional elements which precludes it from becoming a valid trademark.
Generally, marks which consist of features that contribute to technical functions/utility are not considered valid trademarks and this verdict shows that the ECJ is of the opinion that the Rubik’s Cube also falls only under the said category. This would naturally which is a blow to Rubik’s cube has been vigilantly protecting its IP rights, given the immense popularity of the ‘Cube.’
The German Toy Company Simba GmbH had filed for cancellation of the said Rubik’s cube mark on the premises that the same imbibed technical solutions/functionalities and hence did not qualify as a valid trademark. However the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the General Court held a different view. In 2014, the toy company Simba Gmbh suffered a loss at the General Court where the latter upheld Rubik’s Cube as a valid trademark, which in turn set the Appeal in motion.
Trademark Applications in India
Out of curiosity, I conducted a search in the Indian Trademark Office’s online records for the Rubik’s cube applications and found a couple of trademark applications made for the Rubik’s cube including two-dimensional marks of the Cube. The applications are at present at a preliminary stage and have a considerable way to travel before getting to registration.
How will this puzzle unfold!
The Rubik’s Cube, as a trademark and brand, is widely known and recognized. Thus, there can hardly be any doubt that the decision of the ECJ brings a significant impact. It is the ‘how’ here which is to be seen down the line. Meanwhile let me try solving the Cube!