Tales of the Sausage Factory: Homeland Security and the Rubik's Cube

While busier than I could have imagined, I just have to share this.

According to the Daily Oregonian, the Department of Homeland Security is now keeping us safe from Rubik’s Cube Knock-Offs. What next threat to our national security will they foil? Perhaps they will save us from those counterfeit “Garfield” dolls with suction cups? (Does anyone even _buy_ Rubik’s Cubes anymore?)

Stay tuned . . .


  1. To be fair, one of the departments that was gobbled up by the Department of Homeland Security was Customs, the folks that used to chase after the faux Mickey Mouse T-shirts and whatnot. So, yes, the DHS is tasked with tracking down Al-Queda *and* rogue Rubik’s cubes.

    It’s unclear to me whether this was actually a valid enforcement act or not. The patent on Rubik’s Cube ran out several years ago (issued in 1981, according to http://www.calormen.com/Twi…), and the accused cubes weren’t claiming to be by Rubik, so there was no trademark violation. However, the cube the DHS agents wanted removed was called the “Magic CUbe” and the initial version of Rubik’s cube was called “the Magic Cube” in Hungarian, but it wasn’t apparently ever trademarked as that elsewhere in the world. Therefore, the visit by the DHS was likely unwarrented (err… no pun intended).

    You have to wonder if maybe in one huge megadepartment, where the focus is so much on one thing, anti-terror, if the subsidiary functions are going to start slipping. At a guess, the DHS got a call from some lawyers who are either inept or are hoping that the DHS isn’t really on the ball anymore when it comes to customs, and got them to put the smack down on totally legit merchandise.

    It also shows how a concentration of power can cause concern. If the toy owner heard that Customs agents wanted to see her and talk about something she had on her shelves, she may have asked for some documentation of their claims. As it was, when she heard that the DHS was coming, which implies to most people something involving anti-terrorism, she didn;t question them at all.

    I also did see someone on the subway a while ago playing with a Rubik’s (or knockoff) cube, so apparently there might be some retro interest in 80’s puzzle games.

  2. I never understood why the rubic’s cube went out of style. My wife owned a toy store in the late 80’s/ early 90’s, and I really wanted to carry the cubes, as they are the coolest thing ever invented.

    The only ones we could find were the micro ones on key chains. The big ones had gone “out of style.” To me, that was as if, I don’t know, balls or soap bubbles had gone out of style.

  3. thanks john u rock the world out

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