Rubik’s Brands, owner of Erno Rubik's eponymous brainteaser, has lost its appeal to regain the EU trademark for the iconic puzzle.
The General Court of the European Union said the EU IP office was correct to cancel the Rubik’s Cube trademark in 2017 because it conflicts with EU law.
The Rubik’s Cube’s shape is the problem. The puzzle’s multi-directional twisting mechanism is dependent upon its cube shape, and therefore it conflicts with an EU law prohibiting companies from filing trademarks that would give them sole dominion over “technical solutions or functional characteristics of a product”.
“Given that the essential characteristics of that shape are necessary to obtain the technical result consisting of the rotating capability of that product, that shape could not be registered as an EU trademark,” the court said.
Under the law, any company should be allowed to create a twisting cube-shaped puzzle.
Rubik’s Brands was original given EU protection in 1999, but has lost then regained the trademark several times since. Germany toy giant Simba Toys launched a challenge in 2006 and has been fighting it ever since. In 2014 an EU court ruled in favour of Rubik’s Brands, but this was reversed after scrutiny and on the advice of a ruling from a higher court.
It’s the latest twist in a 13-year legal battle to uphold the EU-wide protection, but it may not be the final move. Rubik’s Brands can appeal the decision one final time before the case will be laid to rest.