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Stardock sued for trademark infringement
Stardock sued for trademark infringement
August 16, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

August 16, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
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    21 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



NeverDead and Sniper Elite developer Rebellion has filed a lawsuit against Stardock Entertainment and Ironclad Games, as it takes issue with the title of the companies' recently released Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion.

In a claim filed in June, the UK-based Rebellion alleged that the subtitle on the new Sins of a Solar Empire expansion violates its studio trademark, and could lead the public to believe that Rebellion and this new game are somehow related.

Rebellion specifically called out a number of promotional materials, reviews, and videos that refer to the new Sins of a Solar Empire game as "Rebellion." The studio worries that this naming convention is further confusing both the public and the press, and notes that the whole ordeal creates "unfair competition" between Rebellion and the game's developers.

In addition, Rebellion claims that it sent a cease and desist letter to Ironclad Games in April, though it says the studio refused to change the game's title. Gamasutra has reached out to Rebellion, but has yet to hear back as of press time. Stardock and Ironclad, meanwhile, both declined to comment.

As it turns out, Stardock entered another legal battle earlier this week, when it sued a former employee who allegedly destroyed marketing materials and impaired the launch of Elemental: War of Magic.

This Rebellion case, on the other hand, is somewhat similar to the suit Besthesda filed against Minecraft developer Mojang in 2011. Bethesda claimed that Mojang's upcoming Scrolls infringed on a trademark and could cause confusion with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. After a few months of legal tension, the companies reached a settlement in March.


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Comments


Aaron Frink
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Really? Perhaps they'd like to go tell LucasArts to retract the name of Star Wars: Rebellion as it might confuse fans.

Wolf Wozniak
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Edge.

Robert Fearon
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Funnily enough, like the rest of the human race, I don't get confused between a game developer and a subtitle on a game.

Massive reach, Rebellion.

Kenneth Baird
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Way to feed the lawyers. Settle it the Notch way with some quake and save some money.

Jakub Janovsky
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Another useless lawsuit.

Game need to have some name.... so IMO Rebellion should STFU.

Tom Baird
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They don't even have a similar logo connection (Reference: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/).

Here's a suggestion, if you don't want to get your name confused with another product, don't name yourself a singular common word.
I bet they wish they could time travel and sue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_Rebellion.

Evan Combs
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Hopefully it gets thrown out immediately.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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Well aware of the game, only peripherally aware there was a developer with that name. You shouldn't be able to trademark something like that, anyways.

Simon Ludgate
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I wonder what happens when we run out of untrademarked names and we have to refer to all companies and products with unique identification codes. "Hey, join me for a match of X7G42J7?"

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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Getting there...

Sarah Johnson-Bliss
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Mojang is making a game called 0x10c... I think we're already there.

Maria Jayne
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Has there ever been a studio named after one of it's games?

Michiel Hendriks
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Titus interactive has a game named after the company featuring the fix in its logo. But then again, the company is called Titus Interactive and the game is called Titus the fox, so it's not exactly the same.

Danny Bernal
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I think "capcom" is short for "Captain Commando".

Jacob Barlaam
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The game is called Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, not just Rebellion. There is enough of a difference and NOBODY will confuse the two honestly. Awesome 4XRTS game vs a lesser known developer.

Kevin Cardoza
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I think the type of gaming consumer who would confuse Rebellion the developer with SOASE: Rebellion has heard of neither so the point is moot.

Don't see why they would be worried in the first place. At this point, you would think Rebellion would welcome any association with a quality product they could get.

Dave Long
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This - this is just ridiculous. Really makes you wonder what kind of management are looking after Rebellion. Surely focussing on quality product or effective marketing would be better for their business than a frivolous lawsuit based on association with a higher-quality product. Sounds like there's a lawyer or two at Rebellion with not much on their plate, trying to justify their existence...

Matthew Doss
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I don't think that it's really an issue with their management per se. The real issue is the rise of the patent troll. When patent trolls became common place, now every company seems to think that it's acceptable to sue anytime there is even the smallest thread of a connection... like a similar word.

There ARE plenty of things released with the same or similar names all the time. Get over it. I seriously doubt that remote connections like this will not get you a quick payoff unless the judge is incompetent.

Paul Donald
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If you name your company a single word from the english language you have to deal with the fact that other people are going to use that word in other contexts. You can't own a word!

I hope the judge laughes at them and tells them to get the hell out of his court room!

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I haven't seen this angle brought up much (ever?) regarding trademark, but another concern that I have is that the title of a game is inescapably a part of its artistic value and experience (one of the first thing the user would experience). It sets expectations regarding mood and theme, and lingers during the course of the game. I'm for trademark protection against obvious cases of trying to profit off of the good will built up by a company, but we need to keep our artform protected from lawyers as much as we can while respecting the goal of honesty in advertising.

Joshua Hawkins
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Unlike copyright law trademark law needs to be actively protected by the owner or they risk losing it. Most the time in these cases they're just trying to protect their trademark and aren't actually looking for any form of payment, or legal C&D. In some cases patent trolls are just trying to make a quick buck off companies that don't want to fight in court, or judges that don't know the game industry. Of course in the this case Rebellion was looking for a C&D, and they're probably looking for a handout right about now.


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