Rebellion Sues Over Rebellion

Andy Chalk

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Rebellion Sues Over Rebellion


Sniper Elite studio Rebellion claims that Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion infringes on its trademark.

The byzantine glory of trademark law has once again reared its ugly head in the case of Rebellion Developments vs. Stardock Entertainment and Ironclad Games, a lawsuit that was actually filed back in June over the Sins of a Solar Empire standalone expansion Rebellion. Rebellion originally asked Stardock to stop using the name back in April, but Stardock refused, leading to the legal action.

The suit claims that the commonly-used shorthand for the game, including Stardock's own description of it as simply Rebellion on its website and in promotional materials, could lead consumers to confuse it with the studio. In fact, Rebellion claimed it's already happened at least once, citing a Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion video on YouTube with the description, "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!"

Rebellion claims that Stardock's use of the term is a violation of its trademark that has caused it "substantial harm, which cannot be remedied unless Defendants are enjoined from use of the 'Rebellion' trademark." The suit calls for a trial by jury and seeks triple damages (the amount of which is to be determined at trial), plus legal fees, punitive damages, interest and whatever else the court figures it can throw onto the pile.

I'm in no position to judge the legal merits of Rebellion's case, but on principle I find it a little uncomfortable. "Rebellion" is just a word, after all - kind of like, say, "edge" - and Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion is, by all appearances, about a rebellion. Concerns about the possible confusion of the studio with the game may very well be legitimate, but is this really the best - or even the only - way to go about resolving them?

Source: Gamespot [https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_zz3inaULaXa2Y0bExwN3RZZ00/edit]


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newwiseman

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Aug 27, 2010
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Sigh, while I understand the issue from a legal perspective my usual satirical self is half expecting someone to file a lawsuit against the English language for not having enough words with identical meanings that everyone can use their own.
 

mirage202

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Lets see, a game with the subtitle Rebellion where the entire premise is the very definition.
Vs.
A studio that uses the word without any context because it sounds cool as a name.

Think I'll root for Stardock/Ironclad on this one.
 

Twilight_guy

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Nov 24, 2008
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Hum.... I can see how using a short hand like that might be confusing. All they need to do though is make there shorthand into SSE: Rebellion and then things will be resolved.
 

nodlimax

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Now that would be very bad if a company like rebellion with a metacritics rating of 57 would be mistakenly connected to a game from a company with a rating of a solid 77

http://www.metacritic.com/company/stardock
http://www.metacritic.com/company/rebellion

This would be so bad for their image......

They can't make good games but at least they can sue other companies...
 

rofltehcat

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I'm so sick of stuff like this. It is the whole "EDGE vs. EDGE" thing all over again. Copyright and trademark laws really need a rework.
 

Uber Waddles

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Ah, Trademark disputes are always the best.

When stuff like this happens, its usually the legal team seeking to scare a smaller company into a settlement and forking over some money over what's often not an issue.

In a case like this, they're going to have to prove that "Sins of a Solar Empire" willingly violated their copyright to make a profit off of their materials. And thats where this is difficult to prove.

Like this article says, Rebellion is just a word. Within the context of the gaming world, game that have a longer name followed by word are often abbreviated or just called by that last word. (Example: World of Warcraft is WoW, and all of its expansions are abbreviated when talking about them directly - BC, WoLK, and Cata. A different example is the Halo franchise - most people just call Halo Reach, well, Reach. Atleast in my experiences).

Proving that they were using Rebellion as a way to slingshot their name forward (or to cause harm to Rebellions studio name) is really hard, especially with a name as simple as Rebellion. Is "Sins of a Solar Empire" similar to any of Rebellions work? Do they share a common audience? Could this cause a potential gain or loss of customers from one company over the other because of this name? Logically, no. But Lawyers tend to have a field day with this stuff.

My prediction: the judge says "lol gtfo", or nothing happens. Its like that thing with Bethesda and Notch, its a legal team swinging a branch around, screaming "I am the alpha male" while pissing on everything.
 

Berithil

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Mar 19, 2009
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That moment when you step back and think "People are suing over basic words now. What is wrong with society?"

I can't believe people actually think that they "own" words. You can't own a word!
 

jurnag12

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I have pretty much zero knowledge of lawsuits, but couldn't they use the Edge case as a precedent to tell Rebellion to go shove it?
 

DuskServent

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Let's hope the judge is smart enough to say "It's a word, get over it! Case dismissed."

I am reminded of what happened with Scrolls, but whats this thing about Edge? Haven't been on the escapist for a while. Anyways, why are they making a big deal out of this? Some people in that place must be thinking that there is something wrong if they are suing over a WORD!
 

Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
Ugh, stupid damn companies, I hope Rebellion gets their asses handed to them.
 

rcs619

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Kwil said:
What's scary is because some idiot from IGN was a moron and didn't think about what he was writing, the Rebellion studio has a small chance of winning this, as they can demonstrate confusion between their mark and Stardock's use of the word.

Link to the video in question is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGNSLdbfJVk

Saving grace is that the video write-up does put "Rebellion" in quotes, which tends to indicate a product, not a studio. Still, personally, I feel IGN should feel some pain for this.
One reviewer on one website does not "substantial harm, which cannot be remedied unless Defendants are enjoined from use of the 'Rebellion' trademark" make.

This is a tremendous legal stretch at best, and a completely frivolous lawsuit at worst. Personally, I hope Rebellion gets penalized for wasting everyone's time once the court rules in favor of Stardock. Once you can start copyrighting individual words, no matter their context, we might as well stop naming *anything* because everything will be in violation of someone else's copyright.

I can't help but feel that this is some kind of publicity/cash-grab stunt. I mean... when has Rebellion last made a game that sold well? The only big-release game I remember from them recently was Aliens vs Predators and it didn't exactly do well (bad enough for any future patching and content to be shut down very quickly). I think they're just trying to do what they can to make a little money and/or get their name out in public so that they seem relevant.
 

Tiamat666

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And Lucas Arts watches on and sues "Rebellion" for infringement of their trademark "Star Wars: Rebellion" which existed way before "Rebellion" even existed!

It makes my head spin.
 

NLS

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Jan 7, 2010
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I must admit though, that logo looks like:

[small]Sins of a Solar Empire[/small][HEADING=1]REBELLION[/HEADING][small]Some more unreadable text[/small]

What was the name of the game again? Oh, Sins of Solar Empire...
 

2fish

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Sep 10, 2008
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VS


Who will win?


Well who has titan class ships and starbases?

I hope the courts don't find in rebellion's (companies) favor on this.

 

BloodRed Pixel

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Jul 16, 2009
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Just to make that clear:

Rebellions official company name is "Rebellion Developments Limited"

and Stardock are not selling "Sins of Solar Empire: Rebellion Developments Limited"

case closed.