Is the Rubik’s Cube likely to lose its trademark?




A trademark for the Rubik’s Cube shape was registered in the EU in 1999 but in 2006 Simba, a German toy company, decided to contest its existence. According to the Budapest Business Journal Simba believes that the toy should not be trademarked but patented due to the fact that it is a technical solution that makes the cube distinct in the marketplace.



The Rubik’s Cube was invented by Ernő Rubik in 1974  and is a three-dimensional puzzle that has entertained thousands since it was released into the market.


When Simba discovered that the Rubik’s Cube had been trademarked they pleaded with the European Trademark Office asking them to cancel the application as they believed that it would give the owner an unfair advantage in the marketplace, however their request was rejected.


During the proceedings in 2014, the court stated that only the grid structure and the black lines of the Rubik’s Cube are protected by the trademark. Therefore other companies can produce similar puzzles with a similar mechanism as long as they don’t make use of the trademarked elements. In fact, the V-CUBE 3D puzzles and the spherical Bolaris puzzles use a similar mechanism to the Rubik’s Cube and are popular in the marketplace. This response led Simba to appeal to the high court of the European Union.


Companies can file a three-dimensional trademark for the shape and design of their product or its packaging as long as it is distinct from the general form found in their marketplace. In addition the trademark must not give one company a technical monopoly. In the case of the Rubik’s Cube, if the trademark did cover the toy’s mechanism as well as the exterior design this would allow the company to have a technical monopoly in the marketplace and it could therefore have a negative impact on international competition.

Three-dimensional trademarks are the most difficult types of mark to successfully register as the criteria are so specific, however they do provide a significant level of protection for the brand. Popular products or packing types to trademark include perfume bottles, headphones and bottles (the Coca cola glass bottle was granted its three-dimensional trademark in the US in 1960).


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