New Jersey observers of the world of intellectual property may be aware of the existence of trademark bullying. This is a case where a larger company registers a trademark and uses its legal rights to prevent other companies from using words or phrases that have only the most tenuous relationship to the trademark. A recent example of this practice has emerged from the world of video games, where an established video game company trademarked the word “rage” and attempted to take legal action other video games that happened to have that word anywhere in their title. Their enforcement of this trademark appears to be both inconsistent and arbitrary.
A small development group in Costa Rica developed a game called Fenix Rage in 2014. It was designed for PC systems and contained no similarities whatsoever to an existing game called R.A.G.E. Shortly after the creation and marketing of this game, the parent company of the R.A.G.E. game trademarked the word, but it did not attempt to take any action against the Costa Rica firm at the time.
It was not until the small company tried to redistribute its game through console video game systems that the larger company stepped in and insisted that the new port was a threat to its trademark. Rather than risk a court battle against a larger and more legally prepared company, the makers of Fenix Rage chose to change the game’s name to Fenix Furia. It was not asked to change the name of the original game.
Enforcement of trademark ownership rights in cases such as these require a thorough understanding of trademark law. An attorney who has intellectual property experience can often be a helpful resource in negotiations as well as in court proceedings if judicial enforcement is necessary.
Source: Tech Dirt, “Rage Against The Convoluted ‘Rage’ Trademark Dispute”, Timothy Geigner, March 4, 2016