“Rubik’s Cube“ Continues to Receive Trademark Protection
In April 1999, the shape of the “Rubik’s Cube” was registered as a 3D Community trade mark with the EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in Alicante by the company managing its intellectual property right (Seven Towns) as illustrated below:
In its decision the General Court dismissed an action of the German toy manufacturer Simba Toys that filed a request for declaration of invalidity of the contested mark. The toy manufacturer argued that the sign offers a technical solution regarding the rotation capability of certain elements of the Cube. Hence the protection of the Cube would not be a matter of trademark but patent law.
However, the Court found that the external surface of the cube as graphically represented bears no obvious features which can be turned or switched. The essential features of the sign in question are the cube itself and the cubical grid structure. But neither the grid structure nor its black lines refer to an ability of rotation of the Cube’s single parts. The mechanism inside the cube that leads to a rotation cannot be seen in the graphical representation of the sign. Hence the sign as such does not offer a technical solution.
Furthermore, the Court decided that the elements of the contested community trade mark are of sufficient distinctive character.
Therefore the General Court affirmed the trade mark protection of “Rubik’s Cube“ in the European Union.