A game developer is learning to be very careful of your game’s name even if it is remotely close to an in use trademark. A game developer’s attempt to register its GAME OF TROLLS mark for an in development game was opposed by HBO setting the stage for a dragon-sized legal battle.
Jumpstart Games, Inc. produces children educational and entertainment games that are distributed through the jumpstart.com website. Some of the games feature sponsorship with the NFL and the Madagascar line of movies. In April 2015, Jumpstart filed an intent to use trademark registration for the GAME OF TROLLS mark to cover online video games. Since this is an intent to use mark, the GAME OF TROLLS game is not yet being distributed. When the mark was published for opposition, that’s when HBO game storming the castle.
The Game of Thrones television show is, of course, based on the series of books by George R.R. Martin but HBO owns several marks, and enforces them, related to the distribution of the show. Recently, we have seen HBO get into a trademark battle over the GAME OF DRONES for a drone fighting league. Last week, HBO formally opposed the registration of the mark claiming that the GAME OF TROLLS mark is confusingly similar to its GAME OF THRONES mark. If a proposed registration is confusingly similar to an already in use mark, the Trademark Office will not grant registration of the trademark. Without any specifics, HBO simply claims that consumers are likely to find confusion between the marks. That is all. Just one sentence claiming the confusion without any further facts. HBO also adds another sentence claiming the mark would dilute the distinctiveness of HBO’s mark.
While HBO must protect its mark, I am sure there will be accusations of “troll” behavior. Seems like HBO is staking out its territory on any mark that contains “Game of” between this opposition and the “Drone” one. Jumpstart, since the game is in development, can just change the name of the game or fight for the registration of the mark. If the game is released using the GAME OF TROLLS mark, the company could also be hit with a lawsuit for trademark infringement We shall see if Jumpstart wants to do battle with HBO or accept defeat.