MANHATTAN (CN) – The makers of the Rubik’s Cube are using illegitimate trademarks to squeeze out the competition, a competing puzzle-cube maker claims in a federal complaint.
Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik invented the three-dimensional puzzle cube that made his last name famous in 1974, but attorneys at Barton LLP argued in a Feb. 2 complaint for Cubicle Enterprises that “certain, and perhaps all, of the Rubik’s patents have expired.”
Cubicle filed its suit in Manhattan, the same court where Rubik’s Brand Ltd. brought a trademark action against it October 2017, only to voluntarily dismiss the claim without prejudice on Jan. 25.
The 30-page complaint accuses Rubik’s Brand of fraudulently procuring new trademark registrations in recent years that it has used “to ‘tie-out’ Cubicle’s products from the market.”
Claiming that the effect of these activities puts an unfair strain on the market, amounting to monopolization, Cubicle wants four Rubik’s Brand trademarks canceled for utilitarian functionality and genericness.
“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,” the complaint states.
“Additionally, owing to the flooding of competing cube products into the market, consumers do not recognize Rubik’s as the sole source of puzzle cubes; that is, Rubik’s puzzle cube design has come to refer to puzzle cubes themselves rather than to the source of puzzle cubes.”
Cubicle also argues that Rubik’s attempt to control the speed-cubes market has hindered competing companies from sponsoring speed-cube events, preventing the proliferation of events that would cater to a growing subculture of gamers.
Representatives for Rubik’s did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Cubicle is represented by Barton attorney Maurice Ross.