Rubik's Cube loses EU trademark fight over its shape
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Rubik's Cube, a multicolored three-dimensional puzzle, lost a trademark battle on Thursday after Europe's top court said its shape was not sufficient to grant it protection against copycats.
The toy, invented in 1974 by Hungarian Erno Rubik, is popular among young and old, with more than 350 million cubes sold worldwide.
British company Seven Towers, which manages Rubik's Cube intellectual property rights, registered its shape as a three-dimensional EU trademark with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in 1999.
But German toy maker Simba Toys challenged the trademark protection in 2006, saying that the cube's rotating capability should be protected by a patent and not a trademark.
Patents allow inventors to block rivals from making commercial use of their inventions without their approval for a certain period of time while trademarks give intellectual property owners' an exclusive and perpetual right to their designs, logos, phrases or words as long as they use them.
The German company took its case to the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) after EUIPO and a lower EU court dismissed its lawsuit.
ECJ judges agreed with Simba Toys' arguments. Their decision is final and cannot be appealed.
"In examining whether registration ought to be refused on the ground that shape involved a technical solution, EUIPO and the General Court should also have taken into account non-visible functional elements represented by that shape, such as its rotating capability," they said. Continued...