Apr 10, 2017

Are You Feeling Lucky, Cyberpunk?

CD Projekt Red, the video game developer, publisher and distributor behind 'The Witcher', made a move that angered their fans last week.

CD Projekt Red claim to be the 'industry leader in creating role playing video games', this is part of the reason why their new up and coming franchise, Cyberpunk 2077, has been so highly anticipated. It came to light this week, however, that the gaming franchise has applied to trade mark the name 'Cyberpunk'.

For those that aren't familiar with the term 'Cyberpunk', it is a word used to describe a particular genre of science fiction. Cyberpunk fiction is based on a near future society being "high tech low life", the genre juxtaposes significant technological advances alongside a breakdown in society – think 'Blade Runner', 'The Matrix' and 'RoboCop'.

Understandably, fans of the genre were angry that CD Projekt Red had applied to trade mark the name 'Cyberpunk' as they feel they are trying to take control of a term used extensively to describe a general genre. Fans have likened the trade mark application to trying to trade mark "romantic comedy" and are ultimately worried that, should the trade mark be granted, CD Projekt Red will use their power unfairly against smaller creators.

Aware of the anxieties amongst fans and fellow 'Cyberpunk' enthusiasts alike, CD Projekt Red addressed these concerns last week in a statement on Twitter by stating, "We want to protect our hard work and we don't plan on using the trademark offensively—it's a self-defence measure only". They further went on to explain that the reasons behind applying for the trade mark are purely for "protecting it's own use of the name" and so that, theoretically, if someone wanted to create something called Cyberpunk 2078, they couldn't.

CD Projekt Red claimed in addition to this, that they would only enforce the trade mark in the situation that there is confusion amongst customers so therefore if someone decided to name their game, "John Smith: Adventures Set in a Cyberpunk Dystopian Society", then they would not consider this as an infringement of the 'Cyberpunk' trade mark.

Part of the reason why fans are so annoyed stems from the fact that the 'Cyberpunk genre' is a genre based on firm morals; the free movement of information and the distrust of corporations. It seems rather ironic that a company is trying to restrict the use of such a word and this demonstrates the importance of considering the public perception of any brand moves.

Posted by: in: News, Trade Marks

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