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January 5, 2004

British Owner of Rubik's Cube Puzzle Files Suit Against New York Toy Supplier

CHICAGO — The trademark owner of the Rubik’s Cube puzzle, Seven Towns Ltd. of London, has filed a complaint against New York toy supplier Hazco Promotions, Inc. d/b/a Funco Promotions of Lynbrook, New York. The complaint alleges willful federal trademark and service mark infringement, federal trade dress infringement and unfair competition, and federal trademark dilution. In addition, it alleges violation of Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act; violation of the Illinois Deceptive Business Practices Act; and unfair competition. It was filed in the United States District Court in Chicago.

“Seven Towns is obviously disappointed at Hazco's refusal to cooperate and at its continuing violations of Seven Towns’ rights,” said Jerome Gilson, lead counsel for Seven Towns and a shareholder at intellectual property law firm Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione. “We have tried to remedy this outside of the courts, but Seven Towns was left with no option but to vigorously protect the intellectual property it owns.”

According to the complaint, Hazco had previously contacted Seven Towns to obtain a license to use the Rubik’s Cube trademark and the cube puzzle design trademark, service mark and trade dress. Hazco acknowledged the cube’s fame and popularity but, ultimately the negotiations broke down and it was not granted a license. Seven Towns later demanded that Hazco cease and desist, but Hazco refused.

Seven Towns seeks a jury trial and unspecified monetary relief, including damages, all profits received by Hazco from sales and revenues, attorneys’ fees and additional compensation for corrective advertising to remedy consumer confusion.

The Rubik’s Cube puzzle was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik in Budapest, Hungary. The first Rubik’s Cube puzzle was exported from Hungary in 1980 and more than 100 million cubes were sold in the following two years. Since at least as early as 1978, international toy developer Seven Towns, via its licensees, distributed and sold the Rubik’s Cube puzzle.

Founded in 1917, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione is based in Chicago with four other offices across the country and serves the intellectual property needs of clients from around the world. The firm is one of the largest IP law firms in the country, with approximately 150 attorneys who specialize in intellectual property litigation and all aspects of patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret and Internet work, unfair competition and technology and licensing agreements.