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Rubik’s cube image copyright

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I have a page in my book about thinking through problems and asking for help if needed.  The illustration has a puzzle cube in it, and I am concerned the Rubiks Cube folks would sue if I publish the work. Their website certainly makes it sound like they could.  Do I need permission to have a puzzle cube in the illustration?
#1 - July 11, 2021, 12:06 PM

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Hello Jeffrey,

I posted a similar question a few days ago about mentioning Coke and Lifesavers in my middle grade novel. Vijaya offered some fantastic links in her response, they might be helpful in answering your question:
https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=91892.msg1128403#msg1128403

I also posted my question on Twitter, and agent Uwe Stender tweeted this link about trademarks in fiction. It was written by an intellectual property attorney:
https://www.sidebarsaturdays.com/2017/05/20/httpwp-mep7vddb-hr/

By the way, someone DM'd me on Twitter about a picture book that includes Jello: Birdy’s Smile Book by Laurie Keller. I'm not sure if the Jello is an illustration, but it seems likely that it would be. The publisher may have requested permission from Jello (Kraft-Heinz), but it may have fallen naturally under trademark rules of "fair use," as explained in the articles, and perhaps no permission was needed.

I'm not an attorney, just sharing recent research and wishing you the best!
 :star2


#2 - July 11, 2021, 02:28 PM
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Hi Jeffrey

Is it a puzzle cube or a Rubik's cube? And is it the only thing on the cover or is it in amongst other objects. Generally what you have to determine is whether using that image gives you a commercial advantage and if the cube is incidental to the art .

But asking a lawyer is best.
#3 - July 11, 2021, 05:53 PM

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I decided the safest thing to do was seek permission. From the makers of Rubik’s cube. The legal department was very responsive and sent me a contract within 48 hrs for permission.  I have to pay $100 and document somewhere in the book that permission was given.
#4 - July 13, 2021, 12:59 PM

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If you're self publishing, go for it. If not, hold onto this until you have a publisher lined up and let them know you have it taken care of. They may agree to pay the fee. In general, attorneys at publishing houses look for such things.
#5 - July 13, 2021, 06:18 PM
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