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New Twists and Turns In Rubik's Cube Trademark Battle

Iconic
Iconic

Anyone can make and sell a colorful, cube-shaped 3-D brainteaser with six twisting faces covered by nine square stickers — just don't call it a Rubik's Cube.

The Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice weighed in Wednesday on an intellectual property case that has puzzled Europeans for years, with a formal recommendation that "shapes with essential characteristics which are inherent in the generic function or functions of the goods" cannot be trademarked, La Stampa reports.

British firm Seven Towns manages rights for the original Rubik's Cube, which was invented by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik in 1974. Originally called the Magic Cube, the toy relies on an internal pivot mechanism to wind its color blocks in different directions. In 1999, Seven Towns secured a non-conventional trademark for the game's shape, which Germany's Simba Toys first challenged in 2006.

A final EU trademark decision is expected to confirm Wednesday's decision. But be forewarned, just because any old "Joe's Cube" may finally hit the market, it won't be any easier.

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Geopolitics

Smaller Allies Matter: Afghanistan Offers Hard Lessons For Ukraine's Future

Despite controversies at home, Nordic countries were heavily involved in the NATO-led war in Afghanistan. As the Ukraine war grinds on, lessons from that conflict are more relevant than ever.

Photo of Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Finnish Defence Forces in Afghanistan

Johannes Jauhiainen

-Analysis-

HELSINKI — In May 2021, the Taliban took back power in Afghanistan after 20 years of international presence, astronomical sums of development aid and casualties on all warring sides.

As Kabul fell, a chaotic evacuation prompted comparisons to the fall of Saigon — and most of the attention was on the U.S., which had led the original war to unseat the Taliban after 9/11 and remained by far the largest foreign force on the ground. Yet, the fall of Kabul was also a tumultuous and troubling experience for a number of other smaller foreign countries who had been presented for years in Afghanistan.

In an interview at the time, Antti Kaikkonen, the Finnish Minister of Defense, tried to explain what went wrong during the evacuation.

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“Originally we anticipated that the smaller countries would withdraw before the Americans. Then it became clear that getting people to the airport had become more difficult," Kaikkonen said. "So we decided last night to bring home our last soldiers who were helping with the evacuation.”

During the 20-year-long Afghan war, the foreign troop presence included many countries:Finland committed around 2,500 soldiers,Sweden 8,000,Denmark 12,000 and Norway 9,000. And in the nearly two years since the end of the war, Finland,Belgium and theNetherlands have commissioned investigations into their engagements in Afghanistan.

As the number of fragile or failed states around the world increases, it’s important to understand how to best organize international development aid and the security of such countries. Twenty years of international engagement in Afghanistan offers valuable lessons.

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