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Video game forced to change name by trademark controversy

An intellectual property claim over the use of the word "rage" in video game titles could have ramifications for developers in California and beyond. Although the case was resolved without the necessity for legal action, it presents significant issues that must be resolved.

A major video game developer released a game called R.A.G.E. in 2011. However, it did not trademark the word "rage" at the time. In 2014 a small video game studio from Costa Rica released a game called Fenix Rage, which was not in any way beholden to the earlier game for ideas or marketing. The larger company took no action at that time, but in early 2015 it registered a trademark for "rage".

In late 2015 the Costa Rica developers announced their intention to create console ports for their Fenix Rage game, which had been originally designed for PC gamers. It was at this moment that the large company intervened, sending a cease and desist letter to the Costa Rican company demanding that it change the name of the new version. It was not asked to change the name of the old version, but it could not market the new ports with the name of the old version. Rather than risk an expensive court battle, the smaller company capitulated and changed the name to Fenix Furia.

Intellectual property disputes over trademarks can be extremely hard on companies regardless of their size. In many cases the owner has spent considerable time and expense in developing a brand. Businesses who believe that they have been the victim of infringement may want to have the assistance of legal counsel in attempting to reach a resolution of the matter.

Source: Tech Dirt, "Rage Against The Convoluted 'Rage' Trademark Dispute", Timothy Geigner, March 4, 2016

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