When you looked at the recent Need for speed games from EA subsidiary Ghost Games, you mistakenly thought that you actually bought a game in the long run Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series. No? Well, Ubisoft is afraid of you getting confused, now or in the future. Therefore, the company is officially opposing EA’s application to register the name “Ghost” with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
In a Notice of Opposition posted on the USPTO site, Ubisoft rightly points out that the name “Ghost Recon” has been in use since 2001, long before the first game released under the Ghost Games label in 2013. But Ubisoft further claims that ” the GHOST mark proposed by the applicant is nearly identical to the GHOST RECON marks used and owned by [Ubisoft]and that the new mark is “likely to…confuse, cause error or mislead”.
“Consumers probably mistakenly believe that the goods and services [EA] offers under the applicant’s brand are provided, sponsored, endorsed or approved by [Ubisoft]or are in any way affiliated, connected or associated with [Ubisoft]everything to the detriment of [Ubisoft]the submission argues.
Battles like this over the rights to common dictionary words as subsets of game titles seem to crop up in the industry all the time. In 2011, Bethesda’s parent company, Zenimax, threatened legal action roll creator Mojang on name similarities with The older scrolls series (the case was later settled). Then, in 2014, Candy Crush Saga creator King tried to claim exclusive rights to the word “Candy” in all of the games, even though hundreds of other games had previously used the word in their titles (King later dropped that vague claim).
More recently, Sony attempted to trademark the name “Let’s Play” popular with gaming YouTubers before the USPTO ruled that the term was in the public domain.
At this point, we should perhaps be thankful that Atari didn’t try to trademark the name “Adventure” and Nintendo didn’t try to trademark the word “Legend”.