The History of Rubik’s Cube

Many of us who were around in the 1980s will have grown up with a Rubik’s Cube, and will remember how difficult and frustrating they are to solve.

Rubik’s Cube originated in the mind of Hungarian designer Erno Rubik in 1975. Erno was an instructor of Interior Design and
Architecture at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Hungary.

The story goes that Erno Rubik created the puzzle, not as a puzzle per se, but rather a method of creating blocks that could move independently of each other without the entire model falling apart. He coloured each side of his prototype a different colour, and after some time of moving the independent cubes from their original position, realised he could not get it back to the original colour coded starting position. Rumour has it that it took Erno over four weeks to finally ‘solve’ his own puzzle.

Rubik may have been living in a communist country at the time, but he certainly understood the importance of patent protection, having been granted a Hungarian patent HU170062 for his ‘cube’ in 1975. Unfortunately, he did not gain patent protection beyond Hungary. Rubik 2

The first ‘toy’ was sold in Hungarian toy stores in 1977, but by 1979 Rubik had signed a deal with an international toy company, ‘Ideal Toys’ to market the toy around the globe.

The original ‘Rubik’s Cube’ only adopted that name in 1980. Prior to that it was called the ‘Magic Cube’. The trade mark is still registered in a large number of countries including Japan, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France, Canada, Hong Kong, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy and the USA. Interestingly, the mark ‘Rubik’s Cube’ has never been registered in Australia, although the mark ‘Rubik’s’ is (528156).

In 2010, Seven Towns Limited (who manages the Rubik’s Cube brand) secured registration in Australia of the shape mark 1302648 for ‘Three dimensional puzzles; cube shaped puzzle games’.

Rubiks cube

More recently in January 2013, the Israeli Trademark Office allowed the registration of the 3D (three dimensional) shape of the Rubik’s cube for ‘puzzles’ in Class 28.

The original ‘Rubik’s Cube’ has inspired many similar toys and puzzles over the years, but none have emulated the success or indeed mass frustration as Erno Rubik’s ‘Magic’ cube.

Timeline of Rubik’s Cube

1974 Erno Rubik creates first prototype
of the ‘cube’
1975 Erno Rubik obtains Hungarian Patent for the ‘cube’
1977 First ‘Magic Cube’ sold in a Budapest Toy Store
1979 Distribution License signed
1980 ‘Magic Cube’ is re-branded ‘Rubik’s Cube’
1982 1st International Rubik’s Cube Championships are held 1990 Erno Rubik becomes President of the Hungarian Engineering Academy
2015 Adults and Children around the world are still frustrated that they can not solve it.

BAppSc(AppChem) FIPTA

Rodney is the Manager and Team Coordinator of IP Organisers Pty Ltd. He is also a Principal of Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick.