Meet the Rabkin Behind the Rubik | Business
Ashby Ponds resident Dick Rabkin worked as a patent attorney who helped bring the Rubik’s Cube to America
(ASHBURN, VIRGINIA) – Dick Rabkin spent over 15 years working as a patent and trademark attorney for Ideal Toy Company, which manufactured and distributed toys, dolls, and games beginning with the Teddy Bear in the early 1900s. “I had toys and games all over my office,” said Rabkin. The Ideal Company’s largest competitors were Hasbro and Mattel before the company was dissolved in 1985 a few years after being purchased by CBS. Some notable toys produced by the Ideal Toy Company include Mr. Machine, Chrissy, Betsy Wetsy, the Magic 8-Ball, and the Rubik’s Cube.
The Rubik’s Cube was invented by Erno Rubik of Hungary under the original name of The Magic Cube. In 1980, the toy was renamed for its inventor just as it made its worldwide debut. The Rubik’s Cube received formal protection from the U.S. in 1983 with the help of Dick Rabkin. Rabkin traveled to Hungary to negotiate with the Communist government on obtaining the rights for the invention. “It was hard to do business with them,” said Rabkin. However, after developing a rapport with the government representatives, he arrived back in the U.S. with the legal rights and a license to begin producing the Rubik’s Cube at the Ideal Toy Company. As of 2009, over 350 million Rubik’s Cubes had been sold.
Rabkin was born in New York in 1928. He obtained a degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University and went on to earn a law degree from The George Washington University. He is an emeritus member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a life member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Bar Association. Rabkin moved from New Jersey to Ashby Ponds retirement community in Ashburn, Va. in May 2009.