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1 December 2014Trademarks

Rubik’s Cube should stay trademarked, says EU court

An EU court has rejected claims that the renowned Rubik’s Cube toy should be denied trademark protection.

The General Court dismissed claims from German toy manufacturer Simba Toys that the cube should lose its trademark and be patented instead because its shape requires a technical function to create.

The decision brings an eight-year dispute towards a conclusion, with an appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union the only option left for Simba Toys.

In 2006, Simba Toys targeted UK toy developer and licensor Seven Towns at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) by trying to cancel its 3D Community trademark registration for the cube’s shape.

Seven Towns, which manages the IP rights related to the cube, had registered the trademark seven years previously.

OHIM then dismissed Simba Toys’s challenge to the trademark, causing the company to bring a lawsuit before the General Court seeking an annulment of the decision.

But, on November 25, the General Court dismissed the action and ruled that the registration of the shape of the Rubik’s cube as a trademark cannot be refused.

The court wrote that while the grid structure of the cube constitutes a decorative and imaginative element, it has also the effect of dividing visually each surface of the cube into nine equal square elements.

It added: “However, that cannot strictly speaking constitute a technical function for the purposes of the relevant case-law.

“The registration of that mark does not have the effect of protecting a rotating capability which the shape in question allegedly possesses, but solely the shape of a cube the surfaces of which bear a grid structure, which gives it the appearance of a ‘black cage’”.

Invented in the 1970s by Erno Rubik, the Rubik’s Cube is the one of the world’s best-selling toys with more than 350 million sold since its invention.

Simba Toys and Seven Towns did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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