The Rubik Cube and freeriding

In 1974 Erno Rubik develops a 3D puzzle, a cube with 6 coloured surfaces. The mechanism is protected by a Hungarian patent. Each infringement of the invention can be prevented in this way, regardless of the print on its surfaces. Only after some years the cube becomes a success. Soon all kinds of varieties appear on the market, like the Sudoku Cube and the Kamasutra Cube. Rubik wants to act against these free riders, but how? The patent is already expired.

For this reason, he initiates actions claiming copyright. However is that possible, given the fact that the cube is a technical invention and therefore belongs in the regime of patents? The court sees the cube as an invention and judges the mere shape, without colours, is not worthy of copyright protection. The use of the contrasting colours on the surfaces however is copyright worthy. Therefore, cubes with similarly coloured surfaces are infringing the Rubik Cube and should be destroyed. However, the Kamasutra Cube and the Sudoku Cube give a sufficiently different overall impression and are allowed.


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MENTOS has been selling chewing gum under the name MENTOS PURE FRESH for several years. In order to protect her rights MENTOS has registered the following trademarks: the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH, the logo MENTOS PURE FRESH 3 and a figurative depiction of the word PURE. Defendant sells chewing gum under the trademark DENTYNE PURE and has registered its logo as a trademark. Infringement or not?
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