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Rubik’s Cube brand in US trademark battle to end puzzling of customers

03-10-2017

The brand responsible for the world-renowned Rubik’s Cube sued two US companies in August, on the grounds that their product infringes on its trademark rights for the famous puzzle.

In the complaint, Rubik’s Brand Limited alleges that retailer Toys “R” Us and manufacturer Duncan Toys are infringing on its trademark and diluting its reputation with “an imitation twist puzzle cube”. It is seeking damages from the companies through the US court, and has requested that they are prevented from selling the toys.

Rubik’s claims that the Duncan Toys puzzle imitates the appearance of its classic puzzle, with only slight modifications. It is arguing that this is confusing to customers.

Duncan has responded to these claims stating they are “without merit”, and that it intends to defend itself in this case.

What is the significance of this case?

“It is important for Rubik’s to succeed in this action as the presence on the market of a similar type cube will negatively impact on the distinctiveness of their valuable trademark and ultimately their business”, explains Novagraaf’s Frances Harding. “We recommend not only that trademark owners ensure that they have proper protection in place but that they are also vigilant and act quickly in respect of any third party use that threatens to interfere with the distinctiveness of their trademarks”.

Strategies to ensure your trademark rights

A trademark gives its owner the right to exclude others from using the registered mark in the relevant territory and group of classes. As such, the emphasis is on the trademark owner to monitor for misuse and to enforce the right via infringement action where misuse is found. Following the strategies below will help you to protect and enforce your rights:

  • Conduct a thorough trademark search before using or seeking to register a new mark in your chosen territory or class, as there is a possibility that your chosen mark will be similar or confusingly similar to a mark that has already been registered in your markets of interest.
  • Make sure you have a trademark watching service. This alerts trademark owners to the unauthorised use or misuse of brand names, logos and trade names, including passing off (a UK action).
  • Act against infringement, ensuring that any action taken is both cost-effective and proportionate to the threat, by seeking advice from Novagraaf experts.

For further information on protecting and enforcing your trademark rights please contact us, or speak to your Novagraaf consultant.