Fans Trademarking Video Game Content

so. apparently an online game-playing guild has trademarked their guild name. the syndicate® now actually officially belongs to an organization.

neat, huh? a few passionate gamers just taking the next step.

well. the bizarre part comes into play when they or others are using that in game. a few crazy questions.

  1. what are the legal ramifications of the name showing up in world of warcraft? blizzard doesn’t own the trademark, so, do they have to get explicit permission to display the name to other players? it is their game which is conveying the message.
  2. what about other players in wow? can the syndicate sue other players in world of warcraft if they use the name in game without their permission? is blizzard responsible since they ‘own’ the other players in the game?
  3. can they force other guilds to change their name in other games?
  4. do they send the cease and desist letters to other game makers or the players?
  5. can they demand identities of other players using their trademark? similar to the tactic the riaa is using with isps?
  6. what about world of warcraft’s npc group called “the syndicate”? what about other entertainment properties?

where does all of this end? what sort of legal precidents will come out of this?

truly one of the most interesting turns in the “who owns the content” battle just on the horizon.



wow. just went and actually read their take on the trademark. makes me kinda shudder.

In gaming terms, the trademark enables us to approach Game Publishers, Game Developers, Internet Service Providers and any gaming related sites/services and require that they deny use of The Syndicate® to any other group but ours. The sole legal right to use The Syndicate® for all Online Gaming uses resides with us. Any other uses of it are in violation of the law.

arm barring game developers into complying? sounds like a reason for the “banhammer” to me.  what happens, tho, when a guild has more members than a game can afford to lose? erg.  unionized players?

Blizzard was extremely supportive and helpful with enforcing our mark on Day 1 of their final. A guild tried to take our name and we quickly sent off a letter to the powers that be at Blizzard with issue along with supporting information for our mark. On launch day, where a million people were trying to get into the game, within an hour of the email going out, wheels were already turning and our trademarked guildname was soon awarded to us. That level of customer service is simply amazing and we were very grateful to Blizzard for taking such a strong, immediate and active interest in enforcing our trademark.

god bless market forces, i guess.



7 comments so far

  1. gaminghobo on

    It’s a wierd and occaisionally wonderful world we live in. I suppose if your name is as important to you as this then it seemed a logical step.

  2. Voorshwa on

    My guess, is that companies will just ban the use of that name altogether and not award it to anyone. Makes for a lot paperwork for everyone, and they don’t have to worry about any legal headaches.

    Because in actuality the reason for this is to find some game that won’t enforce their copyright, and they can sue. I mean really, are they actually going to go after some group of people using it as a guild name? Nope.


  3. Curt on

    Hmm, did anyone actually check and make sure it is indeed trademarked? As a rule of them the (r) symbol merely means you have applied for trademark – essentially anyone can put that out there. If they were actually granted the trademark it would be a ™ symbol.

    I have no clue what the trademark office would have to say on getting a tm for something like a guild, but i wouldn’t assume having the (r) means a thing…

  4. m3mnoch on

    i believe it goes like this:

    ™ is for during the 2 year waiting period after you file.

    ® is when it actually ages and becomes a registered trademark.

    they talk about their trademark registration numbers and actually defending their mark here:


  5. Curt Fluegel on

    Wow, sorry, you are correct, i got it backwards, and it was only 8pm…


  6. m3mnoch on

    heh. that’s alright. personally, i try to not start hitting the scotch ’til at least 8.

    oh. wait. you said PM.

    uh… nevermind.


  7. Brandon on

    wow this is disgusting. so if i have a character with that name from years back can they come to me and demand that i remove it? scandalous.

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