Last week during their Ubisoft Forward event, Ubisoft re-announced their upcoming game Gods & Monsters under the new name Immortals: Fenyx Rising. Game director Scott Phillips said that the team being given extra production time allowed them to expand the game’s scope, and the new title better reflects it. But trademark information uncovered by the Hoeg Law Youtube Channel and TechRaptor has revealed that the trademark for the original name was contested by Monster Energy for being too similar to trademarks owned by the company. While Ubisoft has not confirmed the legal challenge to be behind the name change, it is nonetheless ridiculous that Monster Energy would try to contest the name of a videogame in the first place.
Monster Energy’s opposition was justified by the claim that their brand has stakes in the videogame world. This is true; from gamer clothes, to esports sponsorships, and even a Monster Energy Supercross game, Monster Energy has been in the videogame industry for some time. The key to a successful trademark opposition is proving that two trademarks are similar enough and close enough in their spheres to confuse consumers. While it is true that Monster Energy is in the videogame industry, I had no knowledge of a Monster Energy videogame until today.
What’s even more perplexing than a motocross energy drink game that I’m positive did not exist yesterday is that Gods & Monsters shares only one word with Monster Energy. It’s even plural versus Monster Energy’s singular use. Of the 28 trademarks that Monster Energy said would be infringed by Ubisoft, none of them are plural. And trying to copyright the word “monster” in relation to videogames would be like doing the same with “super” or “shooter”; it’s such a broad term, and one that’s been used routinely in games stretching back to the ‘70s. If Monster Energy was serious about protecting its trademarks, why weren’t games like Monster Prom and Monster Hunter: World slapped with similar opposition filings?
It’s not just videogames either. There’s a lot of brands that have trademarks. Searching the term “monster” on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System netted 1662 active trademarks. It appears that “Monster” is a common word used by multiple companies across multiple sectors.
If Monster Energy’s opposition filing is what actually caused Immortals: Fenyx Rising’s name change, videogame titles may need to start getting more creative as non-trademarked words run out. While not a doomsday scenario for the industry, this situation sets a negative precedent for games with similar titles to contest each other. After all, “Scary Creatures of Various Sizes Hunter: World” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
You can see Hoeg’s Law in-depth legal look at the issue below.
Nicolas Perez is an editorial intern at Paste and opinion co-editor for New University. He’s rambling on Twitter @Nic_Perez_.