Rebellion Suing Stardock Over The Word ‘Rebellion’

By Craig Pearson on August 17th, 2012 at 12:19 pm.

Do not construe the raised fist as solidarity. It's part of the logo!
Rebellion are suing Stardock and Ironclad Games over the use of the term “Rebellion”. Ironclad’s standalone expansion pack for their strategy series was called Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, and the trademark suit claims that the use of the word has “deprived [Rebellion] of substantial sales of its products”. Blimey.

To further their argument, the court document provides a few examples of why Rebellion believe they’ve been hard done by. Exhibit B claims the box art for the game showed the word “Rebellion” was much larger than “Sins of a Solar Empire”, which is true, and that people buying it might believe they are getting a game from the developers of Sniper Elite V2 and Aliens Vs. Predator, which I have a hard time believing.

That claim is supported by the inclusion of a confused comment on a YouTube video: ‘The developers over at “Rebellion” talks to us about what to expect from their newest game. As a tech rebel or a tech loyal, you will get to command legions of warships into a galactic space battle. Check out the video for more’. As well as articles using the word “Rebellion” as shorthand for the game’s full title.

This is trademark law in action. People have to be aggressive in order to retain use of the name. That said, SoaSE’s plot did include an actual rebellion in its story, and describing a thing with an accurate term should probably be afforded some sort of protection. Rebellion are requesting a jury trial to sort it out. I hope it ends civilly, but it already has the smell of a scary fight. All over a word.

I’ve been on a jury – I was terrified and didn’t want to do it, but then when I had to it was oddly fun. I stopped a thing from escalating, but I’m not allowed to talk about it.

Via Gamespot.

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158 Comments »

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  1. razgon says:

    They should totally crack down on those pesky Lucasart folks as well…after all, they had a game called Rebellion out in 1998!

    • Anym says:

      …except for the UK where that game was called Supremacy. I wonder if that’s why.

      • thegooseking says:

        I always assumed it was something to do with the American War of Independence. I also assumed that was why Independence War was called I-War in Britain (even though that one was made in England).

        • bonglord420 says:

          Unlike America we don’t have an obsession with Independence Day (aka “the sole military victory we’ve managed to achieve on our own (ignore the french)”)

          • Eightball says:

            Still sore, eh?

          • beetle says:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Wars
            might want to brush up on your american history

          • tetracycloide says:

            Why would it be better to win more wars on your own?

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            I’ve never understood the weird dick-waving tribalism people feel in regards to their country. It’s a hunk of dirt you were born on entirely by accident. I mean, by all means relish the culture and the people, but why get all hot over how many people your distant ancestors killed or enslaved?

            It’s like top trumps for weird obsessives (and historians, who are awesome, obviously).

          • lionheart says:

            Do you mock people who are proud of their siblings, or parents, or grandparents achievements? No?

            some guy: I’m so proud of my grandfather, he was a world war 2 fighter ace who helped stop the Nazis and preserve the freedoms we have today.

            you: lols loser you weren’t even born when he did it, what does it have to do with you? Why do you even care?

            Pride in your country is just the same feeling people have about their families on a larger scale.

            It’s funny, the same people who decry patriotism are the same ones who seem happy to assign collective guilt, wasn; colonialism/racism/sexism awful, now westerners/white people/men have to make up for it.

            You can’t have it both ways, either people can’t claim any part in the good their countries/ societies whatever have done, and thus can’t be held responsible for any of the bad (i.e. through affirmative action/reparations to the third world etc), or they can be held responsible for the bad, but also have the right to claim collective ownership of the good. Still I imagine student level leftism doesn’t really focus much on logic eh?

            And the whole “I don’t care about my country” thing doesn’t make you big or clever, it just makes you ungrateful. Especially considering that anti-patriotic feeling seems to be strongest on the countries that have the most to be proud of and who give those born there the most opportunities.

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            @lionheart

            Thank you for proving my point.

          • Nick says:

            very few countries have much to be proud of unless you are highly selective in what parts of their history you choose to pay attention to.

          • gwathdring says:

            @Lionheart

            I disagree. Over here in the States we have a large body of political thinkers (whom I disagree with about most things) we refer to as Libertarians. I’m not sure how common they are elsewhere … but one thing the more intellectual side of the movement likes to bang on about is the idea of subscription vs. conscription citizenship. And I think it’s a rather interesting thing to bang on about.

            Why do I owe anything to my country simply for having been born here? Does it make me ungrateful to be unpatriotic or to prefer some other hunk of land over this one simply because my lot and obligation in life are tied firmly to the place where my mother went to a delivery room? I was given no choice in the matter. Nor were my parents. Or their parents or their parents. Or on one side of my family their parents and their parents all the way back to the beginning of the country. And then, we still don’t really hit upon a choice–my family wasn’t part of the revolutionary movement and as far as we can tell were either loyalists or on nobody’s side. What we do know is that they’d been here for a while by that time and spent over a generation here and would have had a terrible and overly expensive time moving if they hadn’t wanted to be part of the new United States.

            I understand why governments conscript. And I disagree with those thinkers who believe it is immoral to conscript citizens and then impose laws and taxes on them (some equate this to acts of violence against the individual). We need some kind of structure, and there just isn’t room or time for us to wait for everyone to pick what they fancy and still have those structures function. Not unless we completely rework the fabric of States (which is a wonderful idea for several reasons, but alas takes a rather long time). But I also understand why it rings false for many people that States are still based on coercion. If you have enough time and money you can move to another system. And if you’re born in the right place you get a vote and get to make a lot of decisions that, collectively, matter. But you’re still under the power of a coercive system … and while I personally believe we have better things to worry about for now than fixing that, it’s a rather depressing reality.

            The alternatives are no less depressing. A subscription based system … that becomes all about resources. What you can offer. What you can afford. It’s the Gilded Age as a formalized system of governance. There are ways to scale it by income and what-not, but imagine for a moment if the free-market principles suddenly applied to government services. Imagine the salesmanship, the fine print. Imagine shopping for a country and trying to survive. It’s hard enough to pick out the right cereal box! But now that cereal box determines who puts out your house fire, whether or not you’re allowed to say this or that in public, where you can live, how and when you can vote, whether or not you can consume various substances, whether or not various substances need to be tested properly before being sold to you. It’s nearly impossible to make such a system accessible, fair, and anything other than a mad, confusing clusterfuck of jurisdictions, fees, and exhausted citizens. And where, pray tell, do you end up while you’re trying to decide where to go? What is this hell’s limbo?

            So I’m not advocating the dissolution of the current system. But don’t tell me I owe anything to the United States in anything other than the most practical of senses. Nations and governments are not entities unto themselves. They are entities composed of us. Even non-democratic governments are still, fundamentally, made up of people. I owe things to my fellow people for a number of reasons … but I owe nothing to my government or to my country beyond the sum of what I owe to myself and my fellow citizens. I do not begrudge other people their patriotism, but no matter how happy I am with my country and the things done in the name of it, I will never myself be a patriot.

          • onetrueping says:

            @gwathdring

            While I personally feel that this isn’t exactly the best place to discuss political philosophy (I prefer a lousy diner with bottomless coffee and comfortable seats), I can’t help but address a few points here.

            First, I’d like to point out that patriotism isn’t a matter of coercion, but rather a matter of voluntary action. A patriot is one who feels pride in a country that they feel they are a part of. This is really no different than pride in a company or community, or even in being a reasonable and level-headed commenter on RPS. What is coerced or subscribed is citizenship, which is another matter entirely.

            Second, I’m quite familiar with a number of arguments from the Libertarian and Anarcho-Capitalism movements. The primary problem with a nation in terms of coercive or subscriptive terms is the fact that a nation is tied to a plot of dirt. In reality, a government is more of a service, providing protections and benefits to its citizens in exchange for a certain sum of money. The problem is in the fact that, in being tied to land and borders, a government becomes an effective monopoly, subject to all the abuses that that entails. This is less a problem with government and more a problem of its current form, much like how the monarchy was seen as a problem with the War of Independence occurred.

            Until this issue is resolved, the fact remains that nations are ultimately BOTH coercive and subscriptive, as they allow others to voluntarily become citizens. In fact, the subscriptive side of nationhood is exactly why the more prosperous nations are frequently swamped with migrants; people seek to become a part of a nation that is strong, rich, or free, or some combination of these qualities.

            In the meantime, and more to address your personal complaint of “owing” a nation, you are correct. There is no bill for past services rendered, only for current services, despite the fact that, until you reached a working age, you benefited from those services for free, paid for by the others in the nation. Rather than a feeling of indebtedness to the nation or government, you should instead feel some gratitude towards your fellow citizens for helping you become who you are, a reasonably intelligent person who is capable of contemplating political realities without your head spontaneously combusting.

          • Solar says:

            Do we do rep here? +1 to @onetrueping

  2. Jason Moyer says:

    I guess if you can’t make good games anymore, you might as well resort to trademark trolling.

    Maybe Lucasarts should sue Rebellion.

    • discordance says:

      trademarks require you to sue anyone who might be infringing even if its not clear. Trademark law sucks. Their brief is kindof spurious but unless Rebellion all suddenly came down with a case of the Douchebags they won’t be particularly bothered about winning. They are required to take the case to court to protect their mark but that satisfies their requirements under the law to hold a trademark, they can happily lose now, and will probably want to lose fast before the publicity gets too bad.

      • Premium User Badge

        Llewyn says:

        This is arrant nonsense. Trademarks need to be protected primarily because a failure to do so potentially makes it easier for a future infringer to argue that their use was tolerated by the holder, but there’s no reason that this has to be through litigation. Indeed, in a case such as this one where infringement is far from clear, it would generally be better to avoid litigation because of the risk of losing, which could substantially weaken the holder’s position in future cases. For this reason they certainly won’t be looking to lose, quickly or slowly, but they will probably aim to settle.

        The sensible approach, from a protection point of view, would have been to approach Stardock quietly and agree a licensing deal for a nominal amount. Rebellion act to protect their mark, Stardock will almost certainly agree to license for $10/year to avoid this situation, nobody really loses.

        This, though, is either just a cheap publicity stunt or a cheap cash-grab.

      • Arkh says:

        I partially agree with Llewyn, but I also believe this whole case is preposterous.
        Rebellion is an english word, much like the word “Scrolls” and the whole Mojang case. If I made a game called The Elder Tree and Bethesda sued me for it, that would be in the same level of bullshitness.
        “But they trademarked the english word rebellion!”

        Okay, so I’m going to open a game studio called War and su anyone putting war in the name of their games, because that’s willtotally be my word.

  3. Gnoupi says:

    Those poor kids. All they wanted to buy was a shooter game in which you see with extreme details the path of bullets through skulls.

    And they got a Strategy/4X game. Oh the poor brain cells! Will someone do something to prevent that from happening ever again!

  4. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    *facepalm*

    • sneetch says:

      The people at Facebook and Palm Technology have joined together to sue Hmm-Hmm claiming that his use of the word “Facepalm” has damaged…

      • Grygus says:

        The Estate of Theodor Geisel filed suit today, claiming that “sneetch” is a “Seuss-like” word that creates expectations of whimsical rhyme.

    • Geen says:

      PALMFACE

      • Premium User Badge

        amishmonster says:

        Palmolive’s face-friendly soap, Palmface, is a registered trademark of the Colgate Corporation. Please cease and desist from using our trademark to refer to accurate reactions to copyright law.

  5. roryok says:

    Hopefully David Braben will now sue them for the use of the word Elite in Sniper Elite.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      I expected to get to experience the journey of a lone stealthy long-range shooter through space! I demand compensation!

      • The Random One says:

        Without any resistance to slow down the bullets, you assassinate targets from lightyears away. Instead of wind you have to pay attention to the subtle gravity pull of asteroids and faraway planets. It takes you an average of ten years to learn if you’ve succeeded.

  6. Windscar says:

    I guess that the Ironclad rebels must pay for their sins…

    Lame jokes aside, jehoshaphat, when will this end? I mean, really?

  7. pakoito says:

    They are suing Stardock, so it’s a win-win situation for me.

    • Stromko says:

      Aww, Stardock used to be great though at least. They’ve made some bad games lately, but they used to stand up for gamers’ rights and they used to release some great games. GalCiv 2 hasn’t aged too well I think, but it was fantastic at the time, and they were holding up the banner for smarter, less cheaty AI in a 4X game.

      Elemental is still a fiasco, but they’ve gone to great lengths to try to make up for it. Just for buying it on release they’ve entitled me to Fallen Enchantress, which given the time span and the amount of changes and fixes is practically a new game. Still not a very good game, in fact the march of time and advancing standards is probably its harshest critic but … Ambition and effort have count for something. I think they have their hearts in the right place.

      Sins of a Solar Empire is actually pretty good, too, though RTSes just don’t snare me for long and I haven’t taken a gander at the expansions / sequels.

      • Premium User Badge

        RaveTurned says:

        Don’t forget the selling of Impulse to Gamestop. All those gamers who bought into Stardock’s record of standing up for gamer’s rights, delivered into the hands of one of the industries most exploitative retail chains.

        • pakoito says:

          Demigod is my hate game for Stardock.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Gotta love a game where you have to sign up for their account-based DRM just to play the demo.

            Sorry Stardock. Valve had just enough oomph to get away with that, what with Half-Life 2 being such a major, major point in gaming history. You don’t.

          • Grygus says:

            @LionsPhil – Actually I think that move cost even Valve a lot of sales and goodwill… there still exists a large pocket of gamers who hate Steam for what it used to be.

      • mckertis says:

        “Stardock used to be great though at least.”

        I dont believe they’ve made a singe interesting game, ever. That “we make random decorative crap for windows” mentality must be the reason.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Fences rocks, and that management program they’ve been working on for Win8 looks ace.

      • Bakuraptor says:

        GalCiv2’s actually aged a lot better, at least for me, with the expansion packs (arnor and the other one) – although the biggest reason for that is the nuanced AI more than anything else.

      • killias2 says:

        I actually think GalCiv 2 holds up surprisingly well. What space TB 4x has really surpassed it? Endless Space is fine and all, but it’s nowhere near as deep or satisfying as GalCiv 2 yet. Hell, has any TB 4x really been better than it besides, obviously, Civ 4? Civ 5 was totally blah. SotS II bombed (though I never played the first). As you noted, Stardock’s own Elemental: WoM bombed. Legend of Pegasus looks like another massive failure. Star Ruler is okay. Distant Worlds has potential, but it’s -way- overpriced and still rough around the edges. None of the HoMM games have been good since 3, and, despite the critical praise, I’m not really a fan of the new King’s Bounty games. Warlock is a fun, quick game, but it’s more a 4x-lite than a full 4x game (ditto Endless Space). Warlock plays more like a souped up Advance Wars or something than, say, a fantasy Civ 4. Honestly, I think it’s been a bad-to-mediocre 5 years or so for TB 4x games, and, besides Civ 4 and GalCiv 2, not a terribly great decade.

        Have you played Elemental: FE? I’m -very- curious about it. The buzz is fairly positive, although I see occasional negative commentary. I blame them for screwing up WoM, but I think they’ve genuinely tried to do the right thing and make amends. I can’t get mad at them for selling Impulse, when it basically became a question of “Impulse or Making Games.” I get the sense that the sale to GS was really the only way they could develop FE.

        I also really like Sins of a Solar Empire, even if it’s actually developed by Ironclad (published by Stardock, although I think they’ve played some minor developmental role). Still, I haven’t played the expansions or the recently released expandalone. As with Warlock, Civ 5, and ES, it just comes off a little “light” in comparison to how I prefer my 4x games. Instead, I’ve been spending time with Paradox’s games, and replaying Civ 4, Alpha Centauri, and GalCiv 2.

        • pakoito says:

          Sword of the Stars?

          • killias2 says:

            I haven’t played it, though I’ve heard great things. I actually have both SotS Complete (whatever the final Complete version was called) and SotS2, though I haven’t tried either.

            At the end of the day, it sounded like a small studio doing a space version of Total War. It sounded cool in theory but incredibly hard to pull off in practice.

          • Eightball says:

            Play SOTS 1 but don’t play SOTS 2. If for contractual reasons you must play SOTS 2, don’t let it stop you from playing SOTS 1.

          • Soulless says:

            Actually Sots 2 is in much better shape these days. I’d say it’s closer to being, or is better than Sots prime now.

          • TheTuninator says:

            SotS1 is legitimately great and well worth your time.

            I will remain skeptical of SotSII, because even if they fix all the bugs, I can’t imagine a lot of the core mechanics (insanely in-depth station management, for example) changing.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            SotS1 = great game
            SotS2 = garbage

            There are elements of a great game in SotS2, but there also a lot of elements of a crappy game, and the whole thing is still unfinished and unbalanced with little to no AI.

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          I can confirm that things have much improved in Fallen Enchantress, even when judging from two beta phases back.

        • Malk_Content says:

          The latest and final big beta update just came to Fallen Enchantress and I’ll be fiddling with it today. Mostly they’ve just streamlined all the crap that didn’t really work or was annoying, diversified the races alot more (especiallly in beta phase 3) as well as general polish. Apparently they’ve tweaked the AI I bit now so that tactical combat is a bit better and the enemy will try to get the first hit when possible, rather than just charge you blindly.

          I’ve enjoyed all the beta process so far, and the game has come on leaps and bounds. Though even if it was only a slight improvement I couldn’t complain, afterall I’m getting it for free.

          • killias2 says:

            I am excite. After WoM’s terrible reviews, I actually never played it, but I’ve been following FE closely for the better part of a year. If this beta gets good reviews, I may break down and finally buy the damn thing.

        • TheTuninator says:

          HoMM V was actually made a pretty great game with the addition of TotE. It’s no HIII, but it’s plenty fun and has a lot of variety.

          As for Fallen Enchantress, it is quite an enjoyable game. I do have to give Stardock props for doing right by their customers in that department and actually fixing the mistake they made by releasing a crappy game. If only more companies rectified their mistakes in that matter.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Dammit, Rebellion!

    Can’t you just continue publishing 2000AD without branching out into this sort of silly nonsense

  9. MichaelH says:

    I guess this opens the door for Zombie studios to sue Rebellion. http://www.zombie.com/

    • Stromko says:

      Man I hope the suits just loop around until everyone’s suing everybody and they run out of copyright lawyers.

      • JackShandy says:

        Ingenious! If we have too many copyright lawsuits, copyright lawyers will stop existing!

      • roryok says:

        I don’t think you understand how it all works. If they run out of copyright lawyers, they’ll feed the lawyer queen until she lays more lawyer eggs. what needs to happen to end it is someone needs to copyright the process of suing people.

        • The Random One says:

          Patent 4136121025-B: A Method Whereby One Can Make Money Without The Expenditure of Any Actual Effort

      • wu wei says:

        The truth is really a lot more simple: it will continue for as long as it remains profitable and it will stop the moment it’s not.

        • Grygus says:

          The existence of casinos suggests to me that this is not the case. I think it will continue as long as the gamble is relatively risk-free; even if it is a money loser most of the time, people will still try it, hoping for the jackpot victory.

          • kalirion says:

            What are you talking about? Casinos are VERY profitable – that’s why they exist :)

          • Premium User Badge

            FriendlyFire says:

            In that analogy, the casino is the lawyers and the gamblers are the companies suing.

            Yes, it’s immensely profitable for the casino, but not for the vast majority of gamblers.

  10. rustybroomhandle says:

    But where can I go to buy a rebellion?

  11. Casimir Effect says:

    Those guys in Syria are in for a nasty shock then

  12. Dana says:

    Trademark ALL THE WORDS !

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      Just trademark “sue” and everybody’s happy.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Dear Dana

      Widespread use of the “WORDS” trade mark has been made, to the extent that this trademark has acquired an extensive reputation and goodwill. The “WORDS” trademark is, accordingly, also a well-known mark for all relevant purposes of trademark law.

      In the circumstances, your use of the “WORDS” trademark will constitute an infringement of our registered and common law rights.

      In the circumstances, we demand that you immediately:

      1. cease all use of the trademark “WORDS”;

      2. deliver-up for destruction all material to which the “WORDS” trademark or any other mark confusingly or deceptively similar to our trademark has been applied;

      3. withdraw, cancel and/or delete any corporate names, domain names, trademark applications and/or trademark registrations for or including the “WORDS” trademark;

      4. undertake, in writing, never in future to make any use of the “WORDS” trademark without prior written authority from us, whether within any corporate name, trading name, trading style, domain name or otherwise.
      This is written without prejudice to our rights, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.

      Yours faithfully,

      NinjaFoodstuff

  13. Flint says:

    If they manage to scroll past the lawsuit, would it take the edge out of any future lawsuits of this kind?

  14. Tyrmot says:

    Wow… this is seriously one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. What are we going to do when every word in the English language is trademarked?

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Not use them as the names of our competing products, of course. Leaving aside desperate IP trolls like Rebellion, trademarks don’t generally cause any notable complications to our daily lives.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Why, we’ll pop down to the local shop for a cool refreshing glass of “HXfds0012″ and then kick back and play the latest game: “~@£ HJO 2″ because all the real words might cause someone else to “lose sales”.

        Excuse my french but this is fucking moronic. Anyone who pursues this sort of claim should feel utterly ashamed of themselves.

        • Squirly says:

          Ha. “Shame” he says. Wot’s that?

          • SanguineAngel says:

            Good point. Allow me to clarify: if they had souls or were in any other way worthwhile human beings

  15. Didden says:

    Not a chance. Its far to common a word in other contexts. Money for the lawyers.

  16. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    They are clearly standing on the edge of a precipice.

  17. Erik Aurum says:

    But, one is a game developer/publisher, the other is a stand alone expansion game…
    I don’t…. what?

  18. mrwout says:

    This makes the “scrolls” lawsuit seem sensible…

  19. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    REBELLION: SCROLL’S EDGE

  20. roryok says:

    I’ve actually lost all respect for rebellion. They literally own 2000AD and the rights to all those amazing characters and what have they actually made in the last ten years?

    1 x Judge Dredd game
    1 x Rogue Trooper game
    2 x original IP games

    11 x Licensed IP games
    7 x Ports, Sequels or Spin Offs of other IPs

    They sold out. I want a Sinister Dexter game. I want a Strontium Dog game (like Prey 2). Nikolai Dante. Durham Red. Where are these games?

  21. Premium User Badge

    harvb says:

    This is so stupid, it’s just games companies hurting each other. No-one wins.

  22. Bob says:

    I think I’ll make a game entitled Edge of Rebellion. Throw it on Kickstarter and lobby the legal profession for money. It should be a raging success shouldn’t it?

    • Grygus says:

      For maximum effect, create the Kickstarter for the express purpose of paying legal fees. Stretch goals could include advertising the game more aggressively to make sure that the wrong people notice it.

      • Bob says:

        Hehehe!

        I used to be a game’s publisher ’til I got a writ in the mail.

  23. mckertis says:

    This is what happens when you cant make a living by developing good games but still want money.

  24. Luke says:

    “I’ve written the word “Rebellion” so many times it has lost all meaning”

    You might want to add an actual “Rebellion” tag as well :)

  25. Tom Walker says:

    This is a brilliant idea. I’m going to trademark the colon symbol and sue every games publisher in the world.

    • Saldek says:

      Sorry, beat you to it :) Also: You are in violation. Ergo: Stop right there, Criminal Scum™!

  26. Magnusm1 says:

    At least I don’t have trouble deciding if I want to buy Sniper V2 anymore.

  27. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    As the article says, “this is trademark law in action”. Expect to see a settlement, and Rebellion to license the name to Stardock and Ironclad Games for an undisclosed amount (i.e. nothing, with costs covered by Rebellion). To everyone else, nothing has changed, and Rebellion can show they have protected their trademark. Everyone wins, especially the lawyers.

  28. Premium User Badge

    PoulWrist says:

    Well, Apple won a trial vs. Samsung that because they made a competing product, Apple didn’t sell as much. So why shouldn’t we have those here?
    I’m just waiting for Activision to sue EA because BF3 caused some people not to buy MW3.

  29. Craig Stern says:

    This is not merely trademark law in action: this is trademark trolling in action. The law is designed to allow people protection against goods and services named so as to foster a significant likelihood of confusion among consumers. In other words, it’s designed to protect both the trademark-holder and the buying public.

    In this case, it’s patently idiotic (no pun intended) to think that anyone would confuse Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion with Rebellion Developments. (A) one is a game and one is a studio; (B) the game has the well-known Stardock trademark “Sins of a Solar Empire” in it, and just uses rebellion as a subtitle; (C) Rebellion has been ignoring games with the name “rebellion” in it for decades (see: http://www.mobygames.com/search/quick?q=rebellion&x=11&y=9), which means that Stardock will have a metric shit-ton of evidence they can use to show that none of those other games caused any consumer confusion.

    Not only are Rebellion *incredibly* unlikely to win this particular battle, they’re actually putting their own trademark in jeopardy by arguing that people are likely to confuse games containing the word “Rebellion” with a game studio named “Rebellion.” As people pointed out above, there are games pre-dating Rebellion Developments with the name “rebellion.” Under U.S. trademark law, if you register a trademark but someone else actually started using that mark in commerce before you, your trademark can be canceled. Now, I wouldn’t normally think that a game title would preclude someone using that same word in a studio name, but they’re essentially waiving their right to argue that because they’re claiming that game names and studio names are for the same good or service.

    I could continue ranting about this case, but I’ll leave it at this: Rebellion are complete morons for doing this. Don’t blame trademark law; blame them.

    • UncleLou says:

      Well I wouldn’t call them “trademark trolls” because that term has a different definition, but I agree with most of the rest of your post.

      It’s unfortunate for the reputation of trademark law that it’s always these cases that get publically noticed. If it wasn’t for trademark law, you’d find “Sons of a Solar Empire”, “Suns of a Solar Empire”, and dozens of similar games on the shelves, and on the “Steam”, “Stame”, “Stream” and whatnot stores. :p

      • Grygus says:

        The action they claim to be taking (protecting their trademark) does not require an actual lawsuit. If they had a legitimate claim, this would have been settled behind the scenes and we never would have known about it. They know their case is weak, but are suing anyway in hopes of a big payday in cash and/or PR. That’s trolling.

    • roryok says:

      I’m not sure I like the phrase ‘metric shit-ton’. couldn’t we just stick with metric tonne or shit-ton?

      • Chris D says:

        But if we don’t specify metric shit-ton it could be confused with the imperial shit-ton and then George Lucas might sue us.

        • Valkyr says:

          Brilliant.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Well, it seems he’s more reasonable than Rebellion as he hasn’t sued Stardock over Stardock nor over Sins of a solar empire.

  30. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Well this is fucking idiotic. It’s actually even worse than the Scrolls thing because that name was generic and gratuitous, but in this case it’s an accurate description of the contents. I’d say the original problem is having a company named Rebellion when there are already thousands of products using the word.

  31. frightlever says:

    “I stopped a thing from escalating”

    Was it an escalator? Cos that would be a bad thing to do.

  32. Shooop says:

    Words can’t describe how I feel about this so I’ll just roll on the floor laughing myself sick.

  33. thegooseking says:

    If TSR hadn’t threatened to sue Infocom back in 1978, Zork would still be going by the depressingly generic title Dungeon. The originality of Zork’s title probably generated more interest in the game, and, because this was still the 70s, in gaming in general. The success of the games industry is therefore based on people suing each other for using words, and long may it continue!

    (I might be being a little bit facetious here. That might be an understatement.)

  34. Cyanyde says:

    This is getting silly.. I think I’ll make a game called The Elder Rebellion of the Scrolls. Think I would be ok? ;P

  35. BubbaNZ says:

    I hadn’t heard of Rebellion(TM) before but after I read Rebellion(TM) was suing Stardock over the word ‘rebellion’ I looked Rebellion(TM) up. So arguably I only found out about Rebellion(TM) because of Stardock’s Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion(TM), so maybe Stardock(TM) should countersue Rebellion(TM) because of the legions of people like me who have been distracted from buying Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion(TM) by looking up Rebellion(TM) because of the suit.

    I’m a bit tired now and will have a wee nap.

  36. woodsey says:

    It… IT’S A FUCKING NOUN!

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorManiac says:

      It does seem ridiculous that a company is allowed to use and copy-write a single word.

      Even more so, when they try suing someone for using that word in context.

  37. Skabooga says:

    Man, if we’re using Youtube comments as evidence in court cases now, everybody is in a lot of trouble.

  38. therealspratt says:

    Y’know by this point I would think that putting the Rebellion name on the box of a game would cause people to stay the hell away from it.

  39. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Well… respect has been lost. Good job Rebellion.

  40. cHeal says:

    If they have failed to upload the trademark in the past then they haven’t a hope in hell of winning this case.

  41. The Random One says:

    Man, this really ruin this project I’ve been working on. It would be a series about a rapper who joins a rock band, but then becomes unable to sleep and starts having fever dream hallucinations. The first game would be about a medicine that claims to “cure” free will, being forced to people by a shady government trying to make everyone “fine”, but people who take it appear to be more in control of their lives. As the dream becomes more surreal by the end it’s discovered that a double dose of the medicine becomes an antidote and allows people to refuse to obey even natural laws, like gravity.

    I call it Naughty Dog, Insomniac Rockstar, in Volition Remedy Paradox: Double Fine People Can Fly

  42. thegooseking says:

    I don’t think Rebellion should be allowed to sue Stardock over use of the word ‘rebellion’. But doesn’t that logo look remarkably similar to the variant of the clenched fist motif used in the marketing of Red Faction: Guerrilla? THQ should totally sue.

    • Elltot says:

      That clenched fist symbol has been around since the early 20th century and is hardly original. However the word Rebellion has been around for longer than that and you can sue, so maybe I’m wrong?!?! On second thoughts my name is Daniel Stardock, I should totally sue.

      • thegooseking says:

        Yes, but it shares a greater similarity with the RF:G clenched fist than it does with any other clenched fist motifs used throughout history (or even with the other clenched fist motifs used throughout the Red Faction series). That’s why I focused on Guerrilla specifically and not the whole franchise.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I think Buddha should have a word with his legal team though gooseking… http://www.amazon.com/The-Golden-Goose-King-Buddha/dp/0964436205 ;)

      • thegooseking says:

        Buddha and I are currently in talks over the matter, and I am not permitted to say any more than that.

  43. Hug_dealer says:

    when did rebellion have a game named rebellion……………..ah they didnt and nor will they come out ahead in this endeavor either. Rebellion is soon going to blame stardock for the poor performance and sales of all their existing games.

  44. Robin_G says:

    This is silly, there are publishers and developers called “Epic” and “Guerrilla” , Epic Mickey and Red Faction Guerrilla were not sued. If your studio is named a real word it’s bound to pop up in the titles of games at some point.

    I don’t even see the relation in mind share between a franchise subtitle and a developer. I don’t think the mainstream even pay that much attention beyond the game title. Especially to a studio on the level of Rebellion. (No offence)

  45. MythArcana says:

    More problems for Stardummy this year, like they need it. I guess Fallen Enchantress will be delayed even more with this going on for 2 years in court.

  46. BurningPet says:

    Suing seems to be what the cool kids do this days. i too wonder when will be the day i could sue someone, it always sounded so much fun. and profitable.

  47. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Copyright law is getting so out of hand. It’s time to stop, really. Nothing worth protecting is protected anyway.

  48. ScubaMonster says:

    I’m trademarking the word “The”. Anyone using “The” in a title will be sued.

    • Dizzard says:

      I will go ahead and use “The” in my title. I have also trademarked the word “Sue” and any similar words in all languages.

      Just to make things extra awkward. Good luck trying to ??? me.

      Maybe I should trademark question marks too…….or maybe I should trademark questions themselves. Everyone will be forced to ask things in the form of a statement, it will be brilliant!

  49. The Innocent says:

    It seems the ghost of Tim Langdell’s goatee has found a new host, and hungers for nouns.