Ubisoft Entertainment SA (Ubisoft) is a major video game developer based in Montreuil, France, that has brought several popular video game franchises to the industry, including Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia, Far Cry, Rayman, Just Dance, and Raving Rabbids. Last year at E3, Ubisoft premeired a new open world, action adventure video game where you play a female heroine destined to rescue mythological gods from a yet unknown peril. That game was described as “an epic journey through the fantastical world of Greek mythology.” That game was titled “Gods & Monsters,” and there was some excitement about what looked to be a new IP from Ubisoft.
Six days ago, on September 10, Ubisoft premiered a new update to this game, but it was so much more than a graphics or gameplay update. The game now had a new title of Immortals: Fenyx Rising. The significant change in the title made a lot of people ask why the name change?
Well, we now know a driving factor behind why Ubisoft went with the name change. Monster Energy Company (Monster), the American company that makes energy drinks, filed a U.S. trademark opposition to Ubisoft’s registration of the title “Gods & Monsters” (see Trademark Opp. No. 91255142). To be more specific, Ubisoft actually has 7 trademark applications for the mark GODS & MONSTERS. The seven applications covered a wide range of goods including video games; jewelry; books; bags and other accessories; clothing; toys; and entertainment services. Monster filed its opposition against all seven of them.
In its initial filing papers, Monster says that it is opposed to Ubisoft obtaining a registration for this mark in connection with “clothing, bags, and other items,” as Monster states that is has been selling “beverages, beverageware, clothing, and other goods and services” under its MONSTER and other monster-related trademarks. Monster claims that “there is a large demand for clothing, bags, and other merchandise bearing” its trademarks, and that Monster specifically uses its mark in sponsoring professional gamers and gaming teams, specifically mentioning Team EnVyUs, Team Liquid, Team Evil Geniuses, and professional gamers and game broadcast commentators such as iijeriichoii, lolRenaynay, TimTheTatman, and Summit1G. Monster also cites monsterenergygaming.com, its website “dedicated to video game enthusiasts.”
Monster claims that it will be harmed if Ubisoft were allowed to obtained trademarks for GODS & MONSTERS, because it would cause confusion, mistake, or deception between that mark and all of Monster’s marks.
While Monster is not a video game company, and does not primarily work within the video game industry, it does sponsor certain gaming events, as well as certain individuals, teams, and commentators within the video game industry. The question is whether that connection is enough to support a legitimate opposition over use of the word ‘MONSTER’ between a video game developer and an energy beverage manufacturer.
While many would assume that long-time gamers most likely wouldn’t be confused between the video game and the mark for Monster energy drinks, Ubisoft still decided to announce a new title for the game in its recent update of the game. Why change the name of the game before the trademark opposition proceeding even concluded?
It could be that Ubisoft wanted to have a concrete name so that they wouldn’t have to worry about any potential legal issues before they released the game itself. With a release date set for December 3, 2020, it makes sense that Ubisoft would want its update of the game to have a title that matches the official, final title of the game. So in order to stay on schedule, they just changed the name of the game. With the game set to release at the end of this year, and its already September, if Ubisoft plans on sticking to releasing the game this December, this dispute didn’t give them a lot of time to secure the game’s title in a way that wouldn’t leave them open to any other future legal troubles.
It would have been a significant problem is Ubisoft stuck with the original name, but then lost the trademark dispute after the game was released. That meant that Ubisoft would have had to re-release the game under a new title (which would be highly unlikely), and might possibly be subjected to paying damages to Monster if they made any profits on the old title (especially after losing the trademark dispute). So it seems that in light of the release schedule of the game, changing the name was the safest route for Ubisoft.
Though, it will be interesting to see how this trademark dispute gets concluded. Will Ubisoft stop disputing this trademark opposition altogether? Will they continue to maintain their right to obtain a trademark for GODS & MONSTERS? What will Ubisoft do with the mark if they win this opposition and are eventually granted the trademark?