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Seven Towns vs. Dayan - Color Scheme Copyright Infringment

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Pixel 6

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Update Feb. 7, 2012: See this post.

Hi everyone,

I just received word that Seven Towns, the people behind the Rubik's Cube brand, have gone after Dayan for copyright infringement on stickers.

The color scheme that Rubik's has Copyrights to, is: White - Yellow, Blue - Green, Red - Orange. More specifically, when these colors are used on a cube, in the RWB clockwise configuration, it then represents the Rubik's copyright image. So the image (logo or brand recognized image) is what's the issue here.

If anyone recalls the Japanese color scheme, this issue has happened before. The solution at that time was to use the same colors as Rubik's, but configure them in a different order... Blue - White, Red - Orange, Green - Yellow. But now it looks like Dayan has chosen to comply to Seven Town's request to change their colors. Orange, will now be replaced with Purple.

Here's a quick video Ben and I put together on this topic:


Hard link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu160VfsaZk&feature=g-all-u&context=G210569fFAAAAAAAAAAA

So, it looks like they will now be stickering all their cubes with Purple replacing Orange. I'm not sure if Seven Towns has approached other companies with this same concern, but it looks like Dayan is not going to fight it.

Being that Dayan is quickly taking over the popularity of the cubing world, I think it's a good choice for them to comply, and keep their designs coming in.

So, what does this mean to cubing? Lots of questions to be answered.

Since Dayan makes the stickerless cubes, will they be coming out with a multi-color cube using Purple plastic rather than orange?

Will they still be manufacturing orange stickers that can be purchased separate to their cubes?

Will other cube companies succumb to this same issue?

Will the Japanese color scheme also remove Orange, and go with Purple?

This is not the first time a company has gone after Dayan, and I'm sure it will not be the last.

Please keep comments on this topic constructive, and try to come up constructive ideas, comments, and simply address the concerns that this issue may cause people.

- Pixel -

Edit 1: An interesting related article: Cube knockoffs
By JAMES HOOKWAY


Watch some of the top competitors at the 2011 World Rubik's Cube Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.

BANGKOK—World champion Michal Pleskowicz presents a puzzle to makers of the Rubik's Cube.

The Polish teenager recently won his title in Thailand, lining up all six colors on all six sides of the cube-shaped toy in an average time of 8.65 seconds. "We can't compete with that," griped Chrisi Trussell, vice president of Rubik's Cube's distributor, Seven Towns Ltd.

Enlarge Image

James Hookway / The Wall Street Journal
Rowe Hessler in Bangkok at the Rubik's Cube championship in October.

One reason Mr. Pleskowicz and a new generation of Rubik's fanatics can solve the notoriously difficult puzzle in record time: They don't use Rubik's Cubes at all, instead substituting souped-up Chinese knockoffs engineered for speed.

The spread of these black-market cubes challenges the London-based company with a marketing brain teaser. Should Seven Towns crack down on the pirated toys? Or piggyback on the phenomenon of competitive speed-cubing?

Hungarian inventor Erno Rubik's famous mechanical puzzle has gained a second wind in recent years. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have adopted it as a symbol of geek chic. Celebrities including Justin Bieber and Will Smith show off their cube-solving skills.

The crème de la crème of the new wave, though, compete to solve the three-dimensional puzzle in the fastest time possible. They rely on high-performance copies bought online from underground Chinese designers.

Seven Towns doesn't want these ersatz cubes elbowing into the broader market; the closely held company sells about 10 million Rubik's Cubes annually.

But the firm also sees how the spread of the turbocharged competition is boosting the popularity of the toy, which has sold an estimated 350 million units since it was introduced to the world in 1980.

The pirated cubes are almost frictionless and bear as much resemblance to genuine Rubik's Cubes as Nascar hot-rods to family sedans. The blocks are sanded or configured to barely touch. This avoids cubes getting stuck during competitions, a dreaded hitch known by cubers as getting "locked."

Many top competitors use cubes from Chinese designer Bao Daqinq. Online favorites carry such names as the Zhanchi, or "spread wings," and the Guhong, "Lone Goose." Aficionados eagerly review and debate attributes of the models online in sites devoted to the practice. Mr. Bao declined to comment.

The company is waging a complex cat-and-mouse legal battle with its Chinese competitors, spending $500,000 a year in legal fees to defend its global trademark and stop unauthorized cubes from reaching brick-and-mortar stores.

David Hedley Jones, the company's business development director, belongs to a European Union-China group on copyright infringement, trying to slow the spread of contraband cubes in Europe. "We really spend a lot of time on this," he said.

Seven Towns sponsors the speed-cubing world championships—an evolving showcase for knockoffs—to generate publicity for the real deal. "There's a balance to be struck, but I think it's working," said Mike Moody, Seven Towns' managing director.

Many competitors fiddle constantly to build up dexterity and wear down stock cubes so they turn faster. "It takes about a month to break in a brand-new Rubik's Cube," said 23-year-old Australian Tim McMahon. Veterans describe a repetitive strain condition as "Rubik's thumb," developed from trying to speed-solve standard-issue cubes.

In the early days of speed-cubing—the 1980s—pioneers first pried open cubes, sanded corners and greased joints with globs of petroleum jelly to allow faster, smoother moves. The Internet opened new possibilities.

"The ones you buy online come with springs and screws so you can adjust them," said former world champion Breandan Vallance from Scotland, who took up cubing to travel the world. "There's less friction because there is less contact area between the surfaces, even if they do sometimes fall apart."

One price of speed, apparently, is reliability. A competitor at the Bangkok championships suffered a major breakdown when his cube "popped" in one heat, scattering dozens of pieces across the stage.

Competitors prepared for the Bangkok finals like professional athletes. During the contest, many avoided eye contact with rivals and fidgeted with their speed cubes, building up rhythm and speed as they rattled through 50 or more memorized sequences of moves. There are, say mathematicians, 43 quintillion possible combinations.

Some wore headphones and listened to techno music. Mr. Pleskowicz, the 19-year-old world champion, prefers Metallica. "It helps build up the speed," he said.

There are deviant competitions, including five-by-five and eight-by-eight cubes. Some compete blindfolded, one-handed or try to see who requires the fewest possible moves. Researchers using computers at Google Inc. last year calculated the absolute minimum was 20 moves.

Istvan Kocza from Hungary employed 22 moves at a contest in the Czech Republic last year. "That was due to a very fortunate scramble that nobody had ever seen before," he said.

In Budapest, meanwhile, the reclusive Mr. Rubik, 67 years old, is working on a new solution to the marketing problem—his own version of the speed cubes to compete with the Chinese.

No rush, though. "We've been working on it for five years," said Janos Kovacs, chief executive at the puzzle-master's Rubik Studio design firm.
Edit 2: From the Rubik's cube website: Protecting Rubik's intellectual property
Protecting Rubik’s intellectual property
The RUBIK'S CUBE® in its three dimensional form and any graphic or photographic representation of it, in any configuration, coloured or uncoloured, whether it carries the RUBIK'S CUBE® name or logo, is protected by intellectual property laws throughout the world.
"You must contact Seven Towns Ltd for permission prior to any use of any of Rubik's intellectual property."
Seven Towns Ltd owns all the international rights in the RUBIK trademarks and in the overall image of the RUBIK'S CUBE®. The copyright belongs to Ernő Rubik, the originator of RUBIK'S CUBE® who has given Seven Towns Ltd full and exclusive authority to license and administer his rights, and to pursue by whatever legal means necessary any infringement of such rights.
You must contact Seven Towns Ltd. for permission prior to any use of any of Rubik's intellectual property.
Seven Towns Ltd is determined to stop any unauthorised use of its intellectual property and will pursue infringements of its rights in the image of the RUBIK'S CUBE® throughout the world by all legal means at its disposal.
Edit 3: From the Rubik's cube website: Copyright Notice, Disclaimer, Privacy
Copyright notice
Rubik® and Rubik's Cube® are registered trademarks throughout the world of Seven Towns Limited. Seven Towns Limited is the exclusive worldwide licensee of copyright in the Rubik's Cube puzzle and is the registered proprietor of European Community Trade Mark registrations in the images of the Rubik's Cube puzzle and the puzzle itself.
Seven Towns Ltd will prosecute unauthorized reproductions of the Rubik's Cube Puzzle, the Rubik's brand or any other intellectual property rights identified above. Such reproductions may also be seized and destroyed by customs authorities throughout the world.
© Rubik's/Seven Towns. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer
Rubiks.com contains links to external websites. These websites are not operated by Rubiks.com and Rubiks.com does not control, and disclaims any responsibility for, the functioning and performance of these sites and any content on or available through such sites, including advertising, links to other sites, or comments or other communications between users of these sites.
If you have any legal queries, please contact us.
Privacy
Seven Towns Ltd. is committed to providing a fun, safe and secure website, www.rubiks.com for people of all ages. We are committed to maintaining high standards for protecting your privacy. We provide this Privacy Policy to summarize how we collect and use personally identifiable information we obtain when you visit our Website and explain the choices you can make regarding that information...
View our full Privacy Policy »
 
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Pixel 6

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This is really stupid...
I hope this doesn't happen to other cube companies, as I wouldn't want to have to replace the stickers on one side of every cube I got.
It wouldn't change your right to have a cube stickered in any fashion you want... But they can stop the manufacturers from stickering them that way. At a competition for example, you would still be allowed to use the Rubik's copyrighted color scheme.

This is still early, but what about 5 years from now if this sticks... Is it worth simply changing? or trying to get orange replacement stickers every time you order a cube?

- Pixel -
 
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iEnjoyCubing

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I think it's slightly ridiculous. People have become so accustomed to that color scheme solving wise that switching it to purple can throw off peoples' times slightly. The only thing that this will do is increase the sales of extra/orange stickers from places like CubeSmith.

An alternative for cube shops could be including an extra orange set of stickers with the cube stickered with the non-infringement color scheme. That way, the buyer could make the choice (it does increase costs for the shops, however).

Hmm, V-Cube will have to deal with this too (if they expand who can't use the scheme). Except this time, they are on the receiving end.
 
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Hershey

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Well, time to peel off blue stickers...
Russian style (color scheme)!

All jokes aside, this is ridiculous.
 

qqwref

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They do indeed have a copyright (or is it a trademark?) on the IMAGE of the cube - a 3x3x3 Rubik's cube, with those six colors on it. You can see it if you check the packaging of an official Rubik's cube carefully.

I don't see this as a big deal at all, personally. Eastsheen has been using purple stickers for many, many years and the cubing community didn't really suffer from it; recognition wasn't significantly hurt (I'd know, I used Eastsheen 5x5s as my main cube for a long time) and anyone who cared enough would get Cubesmith stickers anyway. In fact, I'm glad about this, because the deal basically means that Rubik's knows about Dayan but will allow Dayan to continue to exist and make cubes. So if they go through with this then we basically wouldn't have to worry about them being put out of business.

PS: Since it's the image of the cube itself that is at issue here, offering a set of normally colored stickers along with the cube should still be fine. So that makes it even less of a change for us cubers.
 
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Specs112

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PS: Since it's the image of the cube itself that is at issue here, offering a set of normally colored stickers along with the cube should still be fine. So that makes it even less of a change for us cubers.
What about people like me who can't put stickers on something without failing?
 

qqwref

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What about people like me who can't put stickers on something without failing?
If you can learn to consistently solve a cube in under 20 seconds, I'm sure you can learn to apply stickers :p All you have to do is line the sticker up and go from one side of the sticker to the opposite one to avoid bubbles. They even have sticker application things so you can put on a whole side at once.
 

mrpotatoman14

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Meh, it's understandable if they own the image.And really you can just spend like a dollar and get orange stickers from cubesmith which will last longer anyway.
 

freshcuber

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I feel like this will create two generations of cubers. All of us, who mostly use the standard color scheme. Or at least have orange. And all the newer cubers in a few years who will have purple. Even that's unlikely because most people start on a Rubik's brand anyway. Idc about restickering one side of a 3x3. It takes all of what? Two minutes?

I don't think it's that big of a deal but even if it is a legitimate legal claim it just seems petty of Seven Towns.
 

Noahaha

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I don't understand why this stops DaYan from sending out their DIY cubes with orange stickers, because then they're not specifying a color scheme. The stickerless issue is upsetting though...
 
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