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Dept. of Homeland Security Enforces Expired Patent 1006

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the tax-dollars-well-misspent dept.
Fouquet writes "Apparently the Department of Homeland Security does not have enough to do in keeping the US safe, and now is enforcing copyright law as well. The AP reports that a toy store owner in Oregon was requested by Homeland Security officials to remove a potentially copyright-infringing Rubik's cube-like toy from her shelves. The patent for Rubik's cube was issued in 1980, and so it is expired."
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Dept. of Homeland Security Enforces Expired Patent

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  • Fear of powers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:43PM (#10660086) Homepage
    In normal cases, people will just consult a lawyer (the shop owner did call her supplier, later), or at least ask for supporting documents before they complied to requests from officials. For example, you tend to ask for a search warranty if someone wants to search your house.

    However with all the terrorism and patriotism nowdays, peasants can't afford to not cooperate, "just in case" you got blamed for being terrorist or unpatriotic.

    Next thing we know, IRS burst into a kindergarten arresting several 5-year-old's for not calculating and paying proper tax while playing Monopoly, just to protect the integrity of the economy and nation's financial systems. "If they can't do tax at age of 5, will you trust them to pay tax 20 years later?!"
    • Re:Fear of powers (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:01AM (#10660184)
      These are US Customs agents. Customs agents enforce, among other things, import regulations against counterfiet goods.

      The Customs Service is now part of Homeland Security. Ergo, DHS agents were the ones who investigated this incident.

      (This is cut and pasted from below. It should be near the top... or in the summary)
      • Re:Fear of powers (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:27AM (#10660354) Homepage Journal
        Even if that's true, and it's somehow OK for customs agents to enter a business to stop their selling an item without a judicial process, and even if they distributor is somehow wrong that they are legally selling this toy, does that really sound like the kind of activity we need Homeland Security doing, when they're supposed to be catching terrorists? While they're screaming about otherwise imaginary terrorist threats to the election? Or is it exactly the kind of unaccountable abuse of government power, without due process, that will be excruciatingly bad when they come for an accused "terrorist" in a store, with the same disregard for due process?
        • Re:Fear of powers (Score:4, Informative)

          by rjkimble (97437) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:45AM (#10660459) Homepage Journal
          If you do a little research on the web, you can find this page [ustreas.gov], which explains that such work is the
          responsibility of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a part of the Department of Homeland Security. They received a trademark infringement complaint, and they followed up on the complaint. That's their job. Why are you getting your knickers in a bunch because some federal agents are doing their job? Nowhere does the inflammatory and poorly written article suggest that they accused the store owner of being a terrorist. Get a grip.
          • Re:Fear of powers (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bani (467531) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:59AM (#10660548)
            Why are you getting your knickers in a bunch because some federal agents are doing their job?

            Because they weren't doing their job. Their job was to determine the validity of the complaint, which they utterly failed to do. Hence, they failed to do their job.

            If anything, the infringer was the manufacturer -- not the retailer. They did not go after the manufacturer, they went after a retailer. Again, they failed in their duties.
        • Re:Fear of powers (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Krach42 (227798) on Friday October 29, 2004 @01:34AM (#10660705) Homepage Journal
          Ah, but has anyone noticed that the Slashdot article contains THREE DIFFERENT IP GROUPS in it?

          First, the title says "expired TRADEMARK", the article takes about the DHS enforcing COPYRIGHTS, then lastly it mentions that the PATENT for the rubik's cube is already expired.

          So, like... did anyone bother to go over this and at least make sure that the article was at least talking consistantly about the specific IP protection being applied here?
          • Re:Fear of powers (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday October 29, 2004 @02:01AM (#10660825) Homepage Journal
            I noticed it, as did several other posters in these subthreads. It's obvious to any regular Slashdot readers that the "authors" who actually accept submitted stories for publishing apply some cryptic, personal and inconsistent criteria to the selection process, which does not include fact or consistency checking. At least it's not a dup' of another story from a few days ago, which seems fashionable around here.
          • Re:Fear of powers (Score:4, Insightful)

            by EJB (9167) on Friday October 29, 2004 @03:57AM (#10661184) Homepage
            Have you read the article on Yahoo news? I know it's not typical for Slashdot readers to do so before commenting, but I'm just asking.

            The Yahoo news article is consistent. "Immigration and Customs Enforcement" only claimed that they were protecting a trademark. The manufacturer of the Magic Cube _also_ claims that the patent on the Rubik's cube has expired, which is interesting but not very relevant.

            Only the Slashdot article submitter throws in the word "copyright", which is completely wrong and not relevant to the article. It's a bit sad that CowboyNeal didn't catch this before putting the article on Slashdot.

            - Erwin
        • Re:Fear of powers (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CaptainFrito (599630) on Friday October 29, 2004 @09:57AM (#10662587)
          The Department of [Whatever] marching in and "requesting" that someone do something or not do something 'just in case' is itself a form terrorism, by definition. People are genuinely afraid of what might happen if they don't fully comply, regardless of morality or legality. Many suppose that by 'going along to get along', they'll be rewarded with special favor.

          This is exactly what you get when you trade freedom and liberty for the illusion of security. Security is always a future risk issue, and only a fool thinks the future is can be controlled by people. Of course there are general precautions, but history has shown that the most effective methods are simply to treat your neighbor as yourself, then only the profoundly selfish, sadistic and crazed are at issue. In which case, you're sunk anyway.

          For example, why not empower the State to do daily inspections of every single home to root out 'terrorist cells'? Of course, if this were to be undertaken some "cells" would be found, but the proven reliable sociological effect would yield only the sadistic domination by the very 'security' people responsible for the enforcing the policy. And from the evidence I've seen this behavior cannot be predicted by any level of psychological screening. It's a matter of flawed human nature. And the effect is seen in less than a week, so for all those who think this is slow and unusual and is easily managed, you're simply wrong -- the effect propagates through all echelons of such organizations and is quite thorough and complete.

          For those of you following along with the true issues involved, liberty has been redefined by Presidential decree three times in the last 50 years (see EO13083, et al). Of course, the US consitution itself hasn't been changed, but the dictionary used to decode it sure has.

      • by khasim (1285)
        From the article:
        After the agents left, Cox called the manufacturer of the Magic Cube, the Toysmith Group, which is based in Auburn, Wash.
        So it wasn't imported. It was made in Amerika.
        • So it wasn't imported.

          Of course it was. They don't make stuff like that in America - spelled with a "c", by the way, for the benefit of illiterates who fancy themselves clever - any more, because it's the sort of thing you can get in China for a fraction of the price that a domestic manufacturer would charge you. But don't take my word for it - "Founded in 1981, Toysmith [toysmith.com] is an importer/distributor of toys, gifts and novelties from all over the world."

      • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:44AM (#10660445) Homepage
        95% of shipping containers coming into this country aren't being inspected, yet we have law enforcement agents to spare to make sure Pufferbelly Toys pulls those subversive Magic Cubes off their store shelf? Has our government gone completely f'ing insane?

        It's a matter of priorities and if this our current administration's idea of a law enforcement priority, then we need change really, really bad.

    • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:03AM (#10660202) Homepage
      For example, you tend to ask for a search warranty if someone wants to search your house.

      My search warranties always seem to expire right before I really need them.
  • go figure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Izago909 (637084) * <tauisgodNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:44PM (#10660097)
    He told her to remove the Magic Cube from her shelves, and he watched to make sure she complied.
    She's lucky that she wasn't declared a terrorist and her all human rights voided on sight.
    "One of the things that our agency's responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation's financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications," she said.
    God forbid some terrorists fly some Boeing knock-offs into buildings instead of legitimate ones.
    "Aren't there any terrorists out there?" she said.
    The war is not meant to be won....
  • So which is it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fossa (212602) <(ten.xmg) (ta) (7tap)> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:44PM (#10660099) Journal

    Trademark in the title, copyright in the summary, but a patent on the Rubik's cube. These are all different you know...

  • by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:45PM (#10660104)
    Ahh, America -- land of the moron. Where the nation's anti-terrorism forces bravely persecute toy-store owners for "violation" of expired patents.
  • by Coneasfast (690509) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:45PM (#10660105)
    wait up a second, are you telling me, that the homeland security agents have nothing better to do than take off a rubiks cube clone? surely there must be something.

    "One of the things that our agency's responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation's financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications,"

    a Rubiks Cube Clone??? Seriously, i could eat a bowl of alphabits and crap a better Bullshit argument.
    • by Stevyn (691306) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:57PM (#10660168)
      It's probably a typical case of government spending. If you don't spend the funds allocated to you this year, you don't have them next year. This perpetuates so much government waste. So they probably ran out of leads on terrorist cells and went after this person so they have a reason to request another million dollars in extra funding next year.

      What makes this so sad is that slowly the terrorists are winning. I don't mean that as a joke. Their goal seems to have been to make our lives as shitty as theirs and they're are making progress.

      And no, John Kerry in office isn't going to change anything because you still have Republicans in the house and senate. And yes, I am a Republican and no I don't agree with everything that they do.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:46PM (#10660111)
    Dept. of Homeland Security Enforces Expired Trademark
    Apparently the Department of Homeland Security does not have enough to do in keeping the US safe, and now is enforcing copyright law as well.
    The patent for Rubik's cube was issued in 1980, and so it is expired."

    So, are we talking about a copyright, a trademark, or a patent?

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Loconut1389 (455297) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:13AM (#10660267)
      more a problem with the article than a problem with the government's account of the event...

      Either way, it really bugs me that homeland security is even thinking about anything besides terrorism. Why the hell are we paying agents to fly out to bumsville for a da## rubiks cube.. And if we're paying them to do that, why aren't we paying them to research things first? Perhaps the same researchers that decided there were WMD's in Iraq (though I think there must be somewhere.. still intelligence was bad enough we cant find them if they are there)..
      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

        by bluekanoodle (672900)
        St. Helens, OR is not far (about 20 minutes) from the Port of Portland. These agents were from Customs, which has an office near the port. The article sensationalizes the fact that these were DHS agents, which Customs is now part of. Nobody mentioned it was in anyway related to terrorism until /. got a hold of the story.
  • rUSsiA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sn0wflake (592745) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:46PM (#10660112) Homepage
    USA seem more and more like a police state. Once I wanted to visit USA but now I wouldn't dream of setting foot in the states. I'd probably be arrested if I said something wrong.
    • Re:rUSsiA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by boredMDer (640516) <pmohr+slashdot@boredmder.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:51PM (#10660131)
      You think that's bad?

      Check this [livejournal.com] out.

      Excerpt:

      A couple of weeks ago, following the last presidential debate, I said some rather inflammatory things about George W. Bush in a public post in my LJ, done in a satirical style. We laughed, we ranted, we all said some things. I thought it was a fairly harmless (and rather obvious) attempt at humor in the face of annoyance, and while a couple of people were offended, as is typical behavior from me, I saw something shiny and forgot about it, thinking that the whole thing was over and done and nothing else would come of what I said.

      I was wrong.

      At 9:45 last night, the Secret Service showed up on my mother's front door to talk to me about what I said about the President
      • Re:rUSsiA (Score:5, Interesting)

        by OneArmedMan (606657) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:09AM (#10660243)
        a buddy of mine just came back from Canada, via USA

        Zandecks [easyjournal.com]

        **Snip--From the end of the Blog**

        After about half an hour of searching they let me go and everything was ok. The customs girl who searched me was really nice and I've got nothing against her, but now there is a file on me that they found traces of cocain in my bag. I thought about how the hell this could happen, and when I got home I realised that the lock on my bag was missing (I had noticed earlier but forgot when I was being searched). I opened up my bag again and found a note from US customs. Apparently they had broken open my bag to search it. I guess ing these fuckers searched my bag and accidently contaminated my bag with some cocain they found on an ealier search. Thanks guys...

        **Snap**
      • Re:rUSsiA (Score:3, Informative)

        by mlyle (148697)
        Here's the post [64.233.167.104] from google's cache that prompted the secret service-- get it while it's still hot.

        From the post:

        Please kill George Bush. I hate him so much. I think he is a giant dick and I want terrible things to happen to him. I'm not really big on the specifics of how he dies, but if you could at least arrange it so that the authorities find his dead body on top of an underage black male prostitute surrounded by a mountain of cocaine and child pornography, that would really be super-awesome. And mayb
    • Re:rUSsiA (Score:5, Funny)

      by myowntrueself (607117) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:59PM (#10660175)
      The only reason I would go to the USA would be to help in the next revolution.

      And that wouldn't look good on a visa application...

    • Re:rUSsiA (Score:3, Insightful)

      by crashfrog (126007)
      Once I wanted to visit USA but now I wouldn't dream of setting foot in the states. I'd probably be arrested if I said something wrong.

      Oh, for god's sake. It's not that bad. If it were, there's about 200 newspapers that would be shut down already, for endorsing the political opponent of the president. You can still stand on the street corner and hold up a big sign that says what a dickless coward you think the president is; I know, because I see people doing it all the time here in Columbia, Missouri.

      Wher
      • Re:rUSsiA (Score:5, Informative)

        by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Friday October 29, 2004 @02:11AM (#10660858) Homepage Journal

        Can I point out two things?

        1. The country code in his URL is .dk. Would it be so hard to look up the ISO country codes before going off on your anti-German rant? Because Denmark suffered as much as the rest of Europe under the Nazis. You know you are not helping if you perpetuate the stereotype of the ignorant American, no?
        2. The German anti-Nazi laws are pretty strong, yes. Guess where they got them from? They were dictated to the German Federal Republic by the Allied Powers, and given the relative power levels in those days, that means by the United States of America.

        Here's a clue boy: go get yourself an education, you seem to need it.

        Mart
  • Just Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ryvar (122400) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:47PM (#10660116) Homepage
    Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agents went to Pufferbelly based on a trademark infringement complaint filed in the agency's intellectual property rights center in Washington, D.C.


    "One of the things that our agency's responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation's financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications," she said.


    This sounds like really great news. What next? Every person who downloads MP3s is automatically branded a 'terrorist' because they might be threatening the integrity of the economy? Even if they own the CD in question (which is analogous here, because legally there's nothing wrong with the Majick Cube either now that the Rubik's patent has expired)?

    --Ryvar
  • Confusion (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:48PM (#10660122)
    The title says, "trademark", the blurb says, "copyright" then takes about "patent". These terms are not interchangeable. The article clearly says this is a trademark issue.

    Customs is part of Homeland Security and customs has been enforcing these laws for as long as I can remember. These are imported goods.

    • Re:Confusion (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ron Bennett (14590)
      Speaking of confusion ... why is does the Dept of Homeland Security include numerous functions that have little to nothing to do with homeland security? That's really the crux of the issue.

      DHS should be an organization designed to focus on real terror threats, and leave the rest to other separate agencies - yes, communication can be a problem between agencies, but misallocation of resources by an oversized organization is likekly to be an even greater problem ...

      DHS likely will be split up eventually ...
  • Uh huh (Score:5, Funny)

    by mr.henry (618818) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:48PM (#10660124) Journal
    This is a surprise? Here [dailytexanonline.com] is a nice quote on abuse of the Patriot Act:

    "Within six months of passing the PATRIOT Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases," said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. "They say they want the PATRIOT Act to fight terrorism. Then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens."

    • Re:Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LardBrattish (703549) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:59PM (#10660176) Homepage
      Fahreinheit 911 had a good take on the Patriot act with that Senator going "we don't have enough time to read all the bills" etc. I'm sorry but THAT'S YOUR FUCKING JOB. That's why it's called "a reading" before the law is passed - YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO READ IT. During the "reading" if it turns up late and if it takes a week to read it, fine, that'll teach the legislators to publish the draft bills early enough to get them thouroughly read before the reading.

      Democracy is quietly dying because a buch of lazy people will happily pass the "Happy fluffy bunny (you'd be a nasty pinko liberal for not passing this) bill" without actually reading it and finding out that it disbands senate & congress and leaves all legislative & executive power in the hands of the president who now has an extended (life) term of office.
      • Re:Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MalachiConstant (553800) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:35AM (#10660405)
        Fahreinheit 911 had a good take on the Patriot act with that Senator going "we don't have enough time to read all the bills" etc. I'm sorry but THAT'S YOUR FUCKING JOB. That's why it's called "a reading" before the law is passed - YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO READ IT.

        I think this is a bit simplistic. The senate had 735 Bills [state.mo.us]last year according to that site, with language such as:

        "A producer member shall submit to the authority an application for the tax credit authorized by this section on a form provided by the authority. If the producer member meets all criteria prescribed by this section and is approved by the authority, the authority shall issue a tax credit certificate in the appropriate amount."

        Imagine trying to understand 735 documents composed of such language, some of which can be many many pages, or make "small" adjustments to current laws. Some bills, I'm sure, are written and titled to purposely obfuscate their true intentions as well.

        My guess is that's why senators and house members have staffs: to read the bills and tell them what they mean. There's not time enough in the day to read and understand fully all those bills.

        But...

        I certainly agree that each bill should be fully understood before it's voted on, which would mean a LOT more time between introduction and passing, which would mean fewer bills being passed, which is fine with me except in emergency situations (like aid to hurricane victims, etc.).

        Democracy is quietly dying because a buch of lazy people will happily pass the "Happy fluffy bunny (you'd be a nasty pinko liberal for not passing this) bill" without actually reading it...

        No, democracy is dying because of fundamental flaws in large scale republics and american culture, and lack of interest and education of Americans.

        (Disclamer: I'm an American and I dislike both of the major candidates, but I hate Bush more. Remember though, the DMCA was passed under Clinton.)

  • Of course! (Score:5, Funny)

    by theparanoidcynic (705438) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:49PM (#10660126)
    Puzzles are an atempt to destroy our national security! If our children had puzzels they, they might become smart, and ask questions. We can't have children asking questions now can we? They'll never make good sheeple that way!
  • by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:53PM (#10660144) Journal
    The American Federal government already has a law enforcement agency, that being the ever-venerated FBI. In addition, the Secret Service also acts in some cases as a law enforcement agency, providing protection for the President, government buildings like the U.S. mints, and, of course, as the chief investigator of counterfeiting schemes.

    Now the DHS seems to see its role as more than a simple anti-terrorist investigative agency. They think of themselves as another arm of Federal law enforcement. To some extent, they are correct. The role they play is vital to American national security, and to reach the goals of the agency it is mandatory that they have the ability to use law enforcement tactics.

    However, to stretch the fairly narrow initial charter of the DHS to include such things as "defending the national economy" is nothing short of stupid and dangerous. When the DHS was formed, their purview only included possible terrorist attacks. Now it is expanded to include just about any crime that someone deems undesirable.

    The government should not have many overlapping law enforcement agencies. Indeed, this is what led to the massive intelligence failure on 9/11 with the lack of communication between the various government agencies. The DHS would be better absorbed into the FBI as a anti-terror division than to continue expanding its powers unabated.
    • The Secret Service is security for Treasury. Since they're the only "police" authorized to shoot fleeing suspects on only "suspicion" of guilt, rather than higher standards of evidence or eyewitness, they are used to protect the president. Department of Homeland Security has been given such broad powers, with so little accountability, that they are being used to enforce even nonexistent IP rights. That's why today's lawyer politicians are always talking about getting legal "tools" from Congress. Once they h
    • Now the DHS seems to see its role as more than a simple anti-terrorist investigative agency.

      The DHS was never intended to be just an anti-terrorist agency and it never had a narrow charter. The whole idea was to put everything relating to domestic security under one roof. Among the many [dhs.gov] former departments and agencies that it includes are Customs, Immigration, the Coast Guard, and the Secret Service.
  • But wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04&highpoint,edu> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:53PM (#10660145)
    ...expiration violations aside, shouldn't the order be to stop manufacturing them, not to stop selling them? Also, isn't the owner of this (expired) patent responsible for enforcing it instead of Homeland Security just hunting them down?
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:54PM (#10660146) Homepage
    "Aren't there any terrorists out there?" she said.

    Terrorists? Do you think we'd be mucking around in Iraq if we knew where to find terrorists??

    Now just put down the cubes and nobody gets hurt.
  • Nothing to see here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sulli (195030) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:55PM (#10660153) Journal
    These are US Customs agents. Customs agents enforce, among other things, import regulations against counterfiet goods.

    The Customs Service is now part of Homeland Security. Ergo, DHS agents were the ones who investigated this incident.

  • by the_other_one (178565) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:55PM (#10660157) Homepage

    Terrorist suppliers cannot be allowed to sell the tools of evil with just one click.

    The terrorist must always click twice.

  • Useless summary. (Score:5, Informative)

    by praksys (246544) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:57PM (#10660170) Homepage
    Trademarks don't expire. Trademark, copyright, and patent are entirely different things. Reading the summary you can't tell which of these areas of law was involved and you get the impression that the action was taken on expired IP.

    The article states that the action was taken on the basis of a trademark. With a name like "Magic Cube" if the toy is anything at all like a Rubic's Cube then it almost certainly does infringe on the Rubic's Cube trademark.

    And why all the fake wonderment about the department of Homeland Security handling the case? In case anyone missed the press release the department is not some niche organisation that deals specifically with terrorism. It's a big tarball of a whole bunch of departments and old law enforcement angencies that used to deal with all manner of federal law enforcement issues. They do lots of things besides deal with terrorism.
    • Mod parent up! I think this one poster has summarized the ACTUAL story, not the civil liberties, big-brother-is-watching story that this bad attempt at journalism by the /. editors would have you believe.

      The AP story very clearly states :

      "Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agents went to Pufferbelly based on a trademark infringement complaint filed in the agency's intellectual property rights center in Washington, D.C."

      These agents, working for Customs enforce

    • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:15AM (#10660281) Journal

      With a name like "Magic Cube" if the toy is anything at all like a Rubic's Cube then it almost certainly does infringe on the Rubic's Cube trademark.

      Yeah, cause how dare they call a six-faced object with square faces a "Cube". I mean, they even capitalized the C!

  • I want one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gooman (709147) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:57PM (#10660171) Journal
    Oh man, I want one of those Magic Cubes so bad, which is funny, because I hated the Rubiks Cube (not because it was hard, it was just too popular).
    So how about it ThinkGeek? I want "the toy the government doesn't want you to know about".
    How cool would that be.

  • by The_Real_Nire (786847) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:00AM (#10660181)
    Perhaps all newer true Rubix cubes are embedded with some sort of micro chips/sensors, (perhaps even microphones and/or cameras!) which can detect if and how long it took a person to solve it, then these individuals are added to some sort of watch list, because they arent the typical dumb sheep the government wishes to rule. But I digress
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:05AM (#10660216) Homepage
    Homeland Security raiding toy stores because they've run out of terrorist threats, or the fact that they can't tell the difference between a patent and a copyright. And we're surprised other countries think we're idiots.

    You have a chance to do something about it next Tuesday. Go vote.

    We're going to have to change our name to the country formerly known as the land of the free.

  • Abuse of Power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:05AM (#10660217) Homepage Journal
    Tom Delay, (R-TX), is under indictment in Texas for abusing his power as leader of the majority in the House of Representatives (ie, a powerful man) to sic Homeland Security on a group of Democrats state assemblymembers as part of a bitter redistricting battle. Regardless of the merit of the Democrat strategy, Homeland Security was clearly not appropriate, though Delay was able to use them for his purposes, without any security component.

    If we let these powermad tyrants have power, they will abuse it, and maybe apologize later, after the damage is done. We have to get rid of this unaccountable department immediately, and use our National Security system to protect us. Anyone know what is the difference is between "National" Security and "Homeland" Security? Or the Department of Defense, for that matter? We're turning into squalid East Germany, where every fifth German was a "security" henchman, controlling their neighbors through surveillence and intimidation.
    • Re:Abuse of Power (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thing 1 (178996)

      We're turning into squalid East Germany [...]

      Agreed; I even found the fact that they used "Homeland" which sounds so much like "Fatherland" to be mildly entertaining.

      But they took it from a long US playbook, which includes the late Senator Thomas J. Dodd (D-CT) checking the 1938 Nazi gun control laws out of the Library of Congress immediately prior to writing the US's 1968 gun control laws--which look surprisingly [jpfo.org] like [lewrockwell.com] the 1938 version! (In fact, barring translation issues, they're almost word-

    • Re:Abuse of Power (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:52AM (#10660500)
      Here's a list of abuses from just this week alone. [everythingisnt.com]

      >If we let these powermad tyrants have power

      We did. They won a long time ago. Thanks to things like the "culture war," conservative media passing itself off as "fair and balanced," Reaganomics, the marriage of Christian fundies to the GOP, etc. The damage that has been done will take decades to fix, if not generations.
  • POE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by paulydavis (91113) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:06AM (#10660221)
    I was watching a movie on the american poet Poe and he was impoverished most of his life becasue he was so vocal about copyright (pro copyright) that knowbody would hire him. We have come full circle.
  • by EMN13 (11493) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:11AM (#10660255) Homepage
    The slashdot story confuses copyrights, trademarks and patents: at issue is trademark infringement (or so it seems). Copyrights have nothing to do with the story, and the patent on rubiks cubes was only mentioned by the copycat manufacturer to clarify that the patent had expired.

    Specifically, the trademark probably hasn't expired (in principle trademarks don't while you defend them); A rubiks cube (or anything similar) can't infringe upon copyright (unless you're crazy enough to consider it a medium for information).

    I don't like whining about bad slashdot stories; but this really is poorly presented...

    --Eamon
  • by clusterix (606570) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:13AM (#10660275)
    What the hell? Trademark, copyright, and patent must all be the same according to the submitter. Hmm, why are they called different things then?

    OK, so US Customs is enforcing a trademark violation. Fine.

    What is wrong is that Customs does not have jurisdiction inside the US only coming and going from it. Once in the US, it is a civil case that would need at least a hearing or court order to remove merchandise from the store. More than likely, an authorized local authority would then execute the court order(not actual agents).

    It is disturbing that Homeland Security did think that Magic Cube and Rubik's Cube are similar in name or that they don't understand what a trademark is. Most disturbing is that Homeland Security obviously does not understand the laws they are trying to enforce or how to legally enforce them.

    The only 'wrong' thing going on is that Rubik or whoever reported it is intentionally damaging and interfering with Magic Cubes and Pufferbelly Toys businesses. Homeland Security should immediately return the items to Pufferbelly Toys and apologize. I don't think there is much Pufferbelly Toys can do for restitution directly against Homeland Security. It would be nice to be able to sue the government for incompetence, but then there would be no government left.

  • by cpu_fusion (705735) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:22AM (#10660324)
    The article fails to mention that three of the six sides were arranged to spell out "WMD."
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday October 29, 2004 @02:38AM (#10660951) Homepage
    There really is a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center [ice.gov] in the Department of Homeland Security. They even have a convenient online form [ice.gov] for reporting "intellectual property violations".

    This is part of the Cornerstone Initiative [ice.gov], "Protecting the Homeland through Economic Security". Their site is "being revised", but their newsletter [ice.gov] lists what they're up to.

  • by Vo0k (760020) on Friday October 29, 2004 @04:16AM (#10661232) Journal
    Everyone knows Rubik's Cube is a smart toy that helps kids train thinking and generally extends intelligence.
    Now, if kids start using it, they grow smart and intelligent. And intelligent people start to question questionable orders from the government, protest against warfare, lobby towards upbringing that makes smart kids, may listen to reason instead of blindly following propaganda...

    This toy is definitely danger to homeland security.
    (but such reasons can't be stated clearly so the dept had to think of some other bogus reasons like the patent or such...)
  • by geg81 (816215) on Friday October 29, 2004 @04:31AM (#10661266)
    The summary is going all over the place, talking about "enforcing copyright law", "expired patents", and "trademarks".
    • the three kinds of IP are based on entirely separate bodies of law
    • trademarks don't expire
    • copyrights do, but not for a long time

    Please try to keep the three concepts apart. One thing is clear: the DHS should have no business enforcing any of them.
  • Civil vs Criminal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zerofoo (262795) on Friday October 29, 2004 @07:47AM (#10661799)
    I'm no attorney, but it appears any department enforcing patents, copyrights, and trademarks like this is overstepping their jurisdiction.

    These laws are written to protect products and ideas in CIVIL cases. If your protected idea or product is infringed upon, you go to CIVIL court, sue someone's ass off, get a cease and desist order and walk away with a nice fat stack of cash.

    Disobeying the court's ruling might land you some criminal charges, but that requires a court order and cops.

    If my understanding of this is wrong, hopefully an attorney will correct me.

    -ted

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