Trademarks: Corporate Undone

By%3A+Ben+Barrett

By: Ben Barrett

Many people not only use their smartphones for it’s initial functions, but also as a way to pass the time.

Video games have been on cellular phones for many years, but didn’t become mainstream until smartphones came on the market.  With both Android’s Google Play and IPhone’s iOS App Store putting out approximately three hundred apps a day, it isn’t to hard to find something to fiddle with. The bad thing is that with all of those apps releasing daily, the chances of your app becoming the next Candy Crush or Words with Friends is very slim. It’s a very cut throat world within the application market, yet there are still big corporations that will do anything to keep their products safe from upcoming developers. They’ll even go so far as to trademark the most common of words.

Xreal is an indie studio currently working on “Fortress Fallout” a gaming app slated for release this year for iOS. Xreal has stated that they have been working on their game for at least two years. The company has even built its own community of fans to help with input on the game.

Having thousands of followers on all the socal medias and a successful crowd funding had this game set on track to becoming a huge application release. Little did Xreal know that a cease and desist letter was on it’s way from Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda is a major development company that is wildly known for their video game series Fallout. In order to, “Avoid confusion of the two games” Bethesda told Xreal that they had to change the name of the game.

The sliver lining here is the fact that the two games aren’t even the same. Fortress Fallout is a 2D, single-screen, iOS tower defense, while the Fallout games are all 3D RPG shooters. The indie company had only two choices: fight the lawsuit or change their name. Howard Marks, the founder of Xreal told many gaming blogs that it would simply drain all the money they had to finish the game then went on to call Bethesda a “litigious” corporation. “It’s pretty silly. Congratulations Bethesda. You won. You beat us. You showed us who’s boss,” Marks stated in his developer Youtube video. Now Xreal is letting the community help decide the new name and is just trying to move past this nightmare.

As silly as it is to think million dollar companys can copyright common words, this isn’t Bethesda’s first lawsuit (or gamings for that matter). Bethesda made waves in 2011 when the corporation sent a cease and desist letter to Minecraft developer Mojang, asking them to stop developing a project under the name “Scrolls”. Bethesda’s legal team went to say that it owned the rights to “The Elder Scrolls” name, and that Mojang’s project was going to taint their trademark. This lawsuit went on for many months that ultimately came to a settlement between the two companies.

The biggest, and most well known, lawsuit came in the form of another greedy company named King. They are the company who developed Candy Crush Saga, making the company huge amounts of profits from the millions of players daily. One day another indie company went through the same steps as Xreal did in gaining notoriety among the gaming community. The problem was that game had the word, “Saga” in the title and King did not like it. They sued the indie company for everything they had unless they changed the name of the game.

Social media was baffled at the fact that a lawsuit can even go through over such common words as Saga. With months passing and with the lawsuit gaining more and more attention, the indie company changed their name. King went on to trademark Saga as well as Candy to “…avoid any other confusion in the future.”

With many places like Kickstarter, Steam Green ight, iOS, and Google Play it is easy for a group of friends to get together and program their own games for people to play. It is every developers dream to have their games played and grow a fanbase because of their ideas. However, with the almost three hundred of the daily apps being 70% of  gaming, game companies have to work hard in order to keep IPs safe.

It is fine to want to keep your investments safe, however when you have to bully the new comers in order to stay safe then the gaming community has a real problem coming in the future. If you are interested in investing in gaming companies check out Gala Games review for more information.

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