Successful game for all ages promotes three-dimensional thinking
30 wooden cubes 5 centimeters in length and 5 marbles are included in “cuboro basic,” enough to build countless ball tracks by combining the different elements. Dozens of additional elements mean that there are no limits to players’ imaginations. Even levitating bridges can be created using magnetic cuboro elements. “The system promotes three-dimensional and intuitive thinking in children, because construction includes both visible and hidden track sections,” says Matthias Etter, who developed cuboro in 1976, then as a simple educational game for working with children at special needs schools. Gradually, he expanded the game and introduced it to the market in 1985 as a “game for all ages” with 12 basic elements. Supplemented by thematic elements in additional boxes, more than 100 different elements are currently available. He and his wife Barbara continue to manage the company, domiciled in Hasliberg Reuti in Bern.
A Swiss masterpiece of precision and material consistency
The highly complex quality product is produced by the family joinery Nyfeler Holzwaren in the Emmental/Oberaargau region–- made of untreated, non-toxic Swiss beech wood, which is stored and dried in a breezy environment for over a year before being processed and finally assembled. Many steps are done by hand. The cuboro cubes are a masterpiece of precision and material consistency. All of the elements are made with extreme precision. “Switzerland as a production location is a necessity for us to be able to offer our customers a high-quality product,” says Etter.
Big export success attract imitators
Over the years, cuboro has grown into an export hit. In 1994, cuboro’s export share was 12 percent; last year it was 85. This attracts imitators: in China for example. When users searched for the cuboro ball track system on Taobao, Alibaba’s leading Chinese online marketplace, counterfeits began to appear. For this reason, Matthias Etter secured trademark protection for his product in China and also had the word trademark protected in Chinese characters. S-GE assisted cuboro, organized an accomplished lawyer who also works for the Swiss Embassy, and established contact with Alibaba executives at a seminar in Switzerland.
S-GE provides assistance with trademark protection in China
Together they developed a strategy to combat counterfeiting on the online platform.
“Alibaba has been supporting us ever since, though the situation remains difficult,” says Etter. “But thanks to the help of S-GE, I now know how to intervene.”
In Japan too, cuboro’s most important export market, the Swiss SME was struggling with trademark problems. And once again, it received support from S-GE. In Russia, experts from S-GE assisted cuboro with the credit check of a partner company.
With a protected trademark and many ideas for the future
42 years after the first version of its ball track system, cuboro has launched a second product line: “EDITION cuboro.” It includes industrially manufactured board and strategy games produced in Austria and Croatia. They are made of “Fasal,” a wood composite material that consists mainly of certified wood and other renewable resources. “We have no lack of ideas,” says cuboro founder Matthias Etter. “We still have a lot in the pipeline.”
If you have any questions about trademark protection in China, please get in touch with our Senior Consultant for China, Daniel Bont. Get in touch now!