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Wasteland Inxile forces One-Man Studio to Change the Name of their game

Kem0sabe

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From RPS:

Goshdarnit, inXile, not you too. You were the ones who gave the people the elaborate, old-school, spiritual-sequel RPGs they’d long desired, not the ones who chased down unrelated games with vaguely similar names to their own. I know, I know: absurd legal complexities mean that sometimes firms are forced to strong-arm other firms into changing the names of things, otherwise they risk losing their long-held trademarks. But that doesn’t change the fact that this has been abused in the past, and to many of us simply looks like The Man bullying the little guy.

In this instance, the Wasteland 2 devs have, after attempted amicable resolutions failed, done a legal frown at one man studio Dan Games, developer of a shooter named The Alien Wasteland. Or ‘Action Alien,’ as it is now unhappily named. They do claim they will help to promote the game if Dan so wishes, however.


The cease and desist bomb was dropped because their most recent completed game was, of course, the post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 2, and they have registered the trademark ‘wasteland’ as part of that. I.E. they are attempting to claim ownership of the common English word ‘Wasteland.’ Oi, Fargo, T.S. Eliot wants a word.

However, the way trademark law works, as I understand it (and I probably don’t), is that trademarks need to be actively protected, otherwise any old opportunist can go make something with the same title as your thing, and even try to snag the trademark for themselves. So, abstractly, inXile may need to do this in order that they can call their next post-apocalyptic RPG ‘Wasteland 3′, and so that they don’t end up in a situation where they’re being forced to re-title Wasteland 2 because someone else has won ‘wasteland’ at the USPTO.

It is all properly cuckoo, yes.

On inXile’s part, they claim that Dan Games refused to reach “an amicable resolution without involving lawyers”, instead asking for money if he was to change the name of his game.

In a statement, a representative wrote “We do not know if the developer of Action Alien was aware of our Registered trademark when he initially named his game and bear absolutely no ill will towards the creator of Action Alien or the game. We always look for amicable win-win solutions in these cases, where we seek to protect our mark as any prudent business would do, while also helping the other party promote their game and provide a bigger reach than he otherwise would get, so that both parties benefit. In fact, that offer still stands now.”

Dan Games, aka Devdan, claims in a Steam update that “because both games have almost nothing in common and no case of confusion was ever reported for almost two years since my game was first announced, I have been calmly explaining through long emails why we should have no worries about this.”

The eventual result was a cease and desist letter, and Dan Games electing to change the game’s name rather than lawyer up.

It’s all the more sad because inXile, a dev comprised of assorted Black Isle and Interplay refugees, are more accustomed to losing their game-babies than most. Fallout is in Bethesda’s hands and Wizards of the Coast won’t let go of Planescape: Torment – but did let inXile use ‘Torment’ for their upcoming spiritual sequel Torment: Tides of Numenera.

It’s a messy business that no-one comes out of particularly well, and as in the case of Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls vs Mojang’s Scrolls shines a grim light on why trademark law desperately needs to be changed. This world has far more people and far more products in it than it did at the time those laws were devised: it is flat-out crazy to maintain that words from the dictionary can be the sole province of one company or another.

I guess the good news for Dan Games is that, suddenly, a whole bunch of people are talking about Action Alien. Hopefully he’ll take inXile up on their offer to help promote it, too.

The bad news for me is that, had this happened just a few days earlier, I’d have been able to make an ‘April is the cruellest month’ pun.

:nocountryforshitposters:

Luckly local gaming journalist/historian felipepepe was at hand to try and dig fundo into this story...

t0r0VrO.jpg
 
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pippin

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They have the right to protect their property. Private property is the most important principle of western civilization. Does anyone really have a problem with that? It's not like they are going to kick him out of business, and it's also very clear he was trying to fish for some clicks using the name. It doesn't matter what the dev says, you just can't say you didn't knew about it.
 

Lucky

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This isn't the first time they did this. Nuclear Throne used to be called Wasteland Kings. The difference is that this the developer didn't acquiesce and lawyers got involved.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-09-30-vlambeers-wasteland-kings-renamed-as-nuclear-throne

They have the right to protect their property. Private property is the most important principle of western civilization. Does anyone really have a problem with that? It's not like they are going to kick him out of business, and it's also very clear he was trying to fish for some clicks using the name. It doesn't matter what the dev says, you just can't say you didn't knew about it.

Unlikely. There's no point in clickbaiting for a game the mainstream has already forgotten.
 

Siveon

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Shadorwun: Hong Kong
You guys really need to stop reading RPS, the writer is a bit of a retard.

Honestly, inxile should only really care about other RPGs using the word, not a couple of unrelated action games. If it was a made-up name I would say otherwise, but c'mon now.
 

pippin

Guest
Unlikely. There's no point in clickbaiting for a game the mainstream has already forgotten.

It doesn't work like that. The game was released a long time ago and it's considered to be an extremely important and popular production of the genre, and this only means you had like 30 years to realize you can't use the name in your game because it has been registered by someone else.
Take a look at any mobile app stores to realize how people try to fuck you up with product names.
 

Angthoron

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Maybe Activision King subdivision should make Wasteland Candy and Crush Wasteland match 3 games.
 

Lucky

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It doesn't work like that. The game was released a long time ago and it's considered to be an extremely important and popular production of the genre, and this only means you had like 30 years to realize you can't use the name in your game because it has been registered by someone else.
Take a look at any mobile app stores to realize how people try to fuck you up with product names.

Oh yes, so unique. Hey Brother None, Ubisoft holds the rights to the Heroes Chronicles titles among which is "Warlords of the Wastelands." The nerve, right? Time to get those lawyers working, I'm sure Ubisoft will be much impressed by a cease and desist.
 

Kem0sabe

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It doesn't work like that. The game was released a long time ago and it's considered to be an extremely important and popular production of the genre, and this only means you had like 30 years to realize you can't use the name in your game because it has been registered by someone else.
Take a look at any mobile app stores to realize how people try to fuck you up with product names.

Oh yes, so unique. Hey Brother None, Ubisoft holds the rights to the Heroes Chronicles titles among which is "Warlords of the Wastelands." The nerve, right? Time to get those lawyers working, I'm sure Ubisoft will be much impressed by a cease and desist.

I dont think Ubisoft has anything to worry about, inxile will only pick on developers that are smaller than them.

I wonder if Fargo will sue FX for the show Fargo... "the story is about greedy cunts and im a greedy cunt called Fargo!"
 

Kem0sabe

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They have the right to protect their property. Private property is the most important principle of western civilization. Does anyone really have a problem with that? It's not like they are going to kick him out of business, and it's also very clear he was trying to fish for some clicks using the name. It doesn't matter what the dev says, you just can't say you didn't knew about it.

the word wasteland shouldn't be the exclusive right of anyone, the game isnt even an rpg.
 
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Roguey

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I wonder if Fargo will sue FX for the show Fargo... "the story is about greedy cunts and im a greedy cunt called Fargo!"

In fact, the city was named for William G. Fargo, a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and co-founder of Wells Fargo Express Company.

They're just promoting his brand (he's part of this family). :M
 

Lucky

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I dont think Ubisoft has anything to worry about, inxile will only pick on developers that are smaller than them.

I wonder if Fargo will sue FX for the show Fargo... "the story is about greedy cunts and im a greedy cunt called Fargo!"

You're absolutely right. Brother None, I understand that Ubisoft might be a bit too much for you. How about starting with Bethesda for the Fallout 4: Wasteland Workshop DLC as a warmup?
 

ZagorTeNej

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I dont think Ubisoft has anything to worry about, inxile will only pick on developers that are smaller than them.

Of course, you pick your battles. It's the way it works unfortunately.

I wonder if Fargo will sue FX for the show Fargo... "the story is about greedy cunts and im a greedy cunt called Fargo!"

Fargo isn't a trademark, Wasteland is. If they don't aggressively defend their trademark it could come to bite them in the ass in the future. If say a few years from now someone does develop a blatant Wasteland ripoff (an isometric party based game with turn-based combat with Wasteland in the title with a similar setting) InXile/Fargo would have a weaker case if in the meantime numerous games (no matter if they're low-budget indie trash) came out with names like Sons of Wasteland, Alien Wasteland, Vampire Wasteland, San Francisco Wasteland, Wasteland Bros etc.
 

WhiteGuts

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Fargo was singing a different song the last time somebody used "Wasteland" as a title :



I wonder why Inxile didn't sue Bethesda. Hmm.
 

Lucky

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Fargo was singing a different song the last time somebody used "Wasteland" as a title :



I wonder why Inxile didn't sue Bethesda. Hmm.


My apologies Brother None, I see that you're aware already. I bet you've got them sweating bullets, right? Time to move on to Activision then for Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. Shouldn't be a problem after manhandling Bethesda like that.

Fargo isn't a trademark, Wasteland is. If they don't aggressively defend their trademark it could come to bite them in the ass in the future. If say a few years from now someone does develop a blatant Wasteland ripoff (an isometric party based game with turn-based combat with Wasteland in the title with a similar setting) InXile/Fargo would have a weaker case if in the meantime numerous games (no matter if they're low-budget indie trash) came out with names like Sons of Wasteland, Alien Wasteland, Vampire Wasteland, San Francisco Wasteland, Wasteland Bros etc.

Not to get into a trademark debate, but this tends to get heavily overstated. You don't need to defend your trademark as extremely as companies publically portray themselves as being required to.
 

pippin

Guest
You don't need to defend your trademark as extremely as companies publically portray themselves as being required to.

You do need to do exactly that, though. Imagine I make a site Codex of RPGs, and let's assume nobody does anything about it. Then another site comes and names it Grand Strategy Codex,to say something. This time, people from RPGCodex sue Grand Strategy Codex because of the name. Grand Strategy Codex could point out RPGCodex didn't do anything against Codex of RPGs, and they'll be right. I dunno how Bethesda registered the use of the name Wasteland, though, but I think they can claim it has been used in the contect of the lore and not as a distinctive brand name. Same could go for UbiSoft.
 

Lucky

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You do need to do exactly that, though. Imagine I make a site Codex of RPGs, and let's assume nobody does anything about it. Then another site comes and names it Grand Strategy Codex,to say something. This time, people from RPGCodex sue Grand Strategy Codex because of the name. Grand Strategy Codex could point out RPGCodex didn't do anything against Codex of RPGs, and they'll be right. I dunno how Bethesda registered the use of the name Wasteland, though, but I think they can claim it has been used in the contect of the lore and not as a distinctive brand name. Same could go for UbiSoft.

You're talking about copyright, not trademark. There's no trademark on RPG Codex. Former still wouldn't end up that way so it doesn't matter.
 

Angthoron

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Someone made a "Fallout 3" shitty knock-off already and nobody batted an eye, I don't see how Alien Fallout would hurt the Fallout series further.
 

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