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Puzzle Maker Sues Over Rubik's Cube Trademark

Did you see the kid who did a Rubik's Cube in less than five seconds?

That's faster than most Corvettes can do zero-to-sixty. That's faster than a Wall Street crash.

And that's about how long it took -- give or take a week -- to sue the Rubik's company after it dismissed a lawsuit against a competitor. In Cubicle Enterprises, LLC v. Rubik's Brand Limited, the New York-based puzzle maker claims Rubik's patents have expired.

Patents Expired

Erno Rubik invented the puzzle in 1974, but Cubicle's lawyers say that "certain, and perhaps all, of the Rubik's patents have expired." If so, the plaintiff certainly took a long time to make the claim.

But there is more to the story. Rubik's sued Cubicle last October, then dismissed without prejudice last month.

In the new case, Cubicle says Rubik's fraudulently procured trademarks to tie up the market. As a result, the plaintiff says, the game's name is has become generic for cube puzzles.

"The introduction of numerous competing cube products into the market has caused the puzzle cube design depicted in the Rubik's Trademarks to (a) become the generic designation for puzzle cubes consisting of a black cube with right-angled smaller internal cubes that can twist and turn with matching color patches, and/or (b) otherwise lose its significance as a mark," according to the complaint.

Speed-Cubes

The Rubik's Cube became a phenomenon as consumers played -- and competed. Speed-cube events, a subculture of gamers, have proliferated around the world.

Cubicle argues that Rubik's has tried to control that market, too, preventing other companies from sponsoring similar events.

Rubik's has not filed a response in court, but is expected to review the complaint it dismissed on Jan. 25.

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