Close
Are you sure? Are you sure you want to report this comment? I understand, report it. Cancel

Law firm explains defence of 'stick' trademark

Fri 04 Feb 2011 4:33pm GMT / 11:33am EST / 8:33am PST
LegalDevelopment

Sheridans: Stick Sports situation "very different" to Edge Games or Doodle Jump cases

Sheridans Solicitors

Leading Entertainment Law Firm based in London

sheridans.co.uk

Sheridans Solicitors, the firm that helped developer Mobigames in its battle against Tim Langdell's trademarking of the word 'edge', is now assisting Stick Sports' attempt to prevent other games from using the word 'stick' in their titles.

The firm also advised a number of developers who battled Doodle Jump studio Lima Sky over the usage of the word 'doodle'.

However, Sheridans believes there's a key point of difference for new client Stick Sports, which is right to have warned Apple and several other developers that the release of other games with the word 'stick' in their title infringes its UK trademark of the word. Sheridans and Stick Sports feel that this represents "passing off and unfair competition."

Stated Sheridans' Alex Chapman: "We have advised Stick Sports that its case is very different to those that have received public criticism before and it is therefore disappointing that the initial reaction of many has been to jump to same conclusion as was reached in respect of those other claims.

"For example, when Lima Sky tried to enforce its Doodle Jump mark in respect of games using the word 'Doodle' its trade mark was for 'Doodle Jump', not 'Doodle'. Therefore because its games and other games using the word 'Doodle' are based on or characterised by their doodle graphics there was no likelihood of consumers being confused into believing that the games originated from Lima Sky."

In the case of disgraced Edge Games boss Tim Langdell, his rights to the word 'edge' were rendered "invalid through non-use."

But according to Sheridans, Stick Games' situation is different because it "owns a registered trade mark for 'Stick' and has established substantial goodwill and reputation in that name, particularly when used in combination with sports games.

"It has worked hard and spent many years, since 2004, building its unique brand and developing games around it. Its games have had over 1 billion plays and well over 50 million unique users and as a result its 'Stick' brand has become widely recognised in the field of sports based games."

Chapman added that unlike 'doodle', 'stick' is "not descriptive or devoid of distinctive character. Put simply those games are characterised by their use of a 'stickman' and the reference to 'stick' in the name does not denote a characteristic of the game."

A number of Stick Sports' games feature thin, long-limbed characters, but they are not explicitly identified as 'stickmen'. To that end, the company is only concerned with games using the 'Stick' brand; there is no objection to any game using the word 'Stickman' instead, for example.

18 Comments

Christopher McCraken
CEO/Production Director

106 240 2.3
Seriously?

...And lawyers wonder why they are considered bottom feeders.

Posted:3 years ago

#1
Lets give em some stick!

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Sam Brown
Programmer

237 163 0.7
I can't remember, did we ever not have lawyers? And was it the utopian golden age that I envisage?

Posted:3 years ago

#3
"According to Sheridans, Stick Games' situation is different because it "owns a registered trade mark for 'Stick' and has established substantial goodwill and reputation in that name, particularly when used in combination with sports games."

Wasn't Edge trademarked? As Sheridans well know, just because something's been registered doesn't mean it's not open to challenge, especially if it's generic. Are they going to complain about a game called Sticks and Stones? And "particularly when used in combinations with sports games"? Aren't they JUST sports games?

As for the four comments above, *like*, *like*, *like* and *like*.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 4th February 2011 6:21pm

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Stephen McCarthy
Studying Games Technology

205 0 0.0
i have no idea where the world is going to be in 4 years if i keep seeing things like this...

Posted:3 years ago

#5
@ stephen Stick & stones wont break my bones, but Solicitors sure as hell can :)

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Darren Adams
Managing Director

188 332 1.8
I have talked with Alex Chapman before and he seems like a good guy who obviously wants to make money like everyone else and would probably take any job that comes along providing it has something to do with the games industry. But, to call all solicitors 'bottom feeders' is really what we as an industry want people to stop doing to us; stereotyping.

Not to say all solicitors are good guys and don't play the system for their own gain, but like every industry there are some good apples and bad apples.

As a wise man once said 'I have horrible the idea that one shall do to me that which I do to others'. Dr Duran :p

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 4th February 2011 7:13pm

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Alex Chapman
Partner - Head of Interactive Media

7 0 0.0
This clearly needs more explanation. We had hoped that helping Stick Sports out would help illustrate the difference between what is fair and lawful and what isn't, so perhaps this will help.

As most readers will know we helped Mobigame out on the "Edge" matter - successfully. We also helped a number of developers out in relation to the Lima Sky "Doodle" matter. The point there was that they didn't have enforcable claims. In a lot of cases we also did this work pro bono. You won't of heard about them but there are many apps up because we stepped in to help the developers out.

In this case we are helping a client because it has a valid case. Stick Sports is an indie who has spent 7 years building its brand and has now found that there are others using that brand for their games. So what is Stick Sports to do? Forget about all that effort and ignore it or do something about it.

The issue here is why are the other games called "Stick Tennis", "Stick Golf" etc.? Is it because the they feature stickmen? If so why aren't they called "Stickman Tennis", "Stickman Golf" etc. The fact that they choose use "Stick" and not "Stickman" is the problem because there isn't really a good reason other than the fact that the "Stick" brand has a value and will increase sales. The reason it has a brand value and will increase sales is because Stick Sports have spent 7 years promoting its games with over 1 billion gameplays etc. It has had over 50 million users and those "fans" may believe these games are realted to our client. These games also stand in the way of our client getting its products on the app store.

So what Stick Sports have to do is say to those people who are using "Stick" "please stop" and if they don't then they need to go further. In this case they are saying that it is totally fine to call your game "Stickman Tennis" or "Stickman Golf" but our fanbase think that your game is connected with us and that is affecting our business and our ability to put our games on the App Store.

Hope that helps clear things up but I guess I may have to do a more in depth article - which I will be happy to.

Posted:3 years ago

#8
Alex, does that mean they don't have an issue with non-sports games having stick in the title? Sticks and Stones, etc? Stick Hangman, say? Or does Stick Sports now claim the sole right to use the word Stick in ANY games title?

That's a genuine question btw.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Alan Pierce
Programmer

63 19 0.3
"The fact that they choose use "Stick" and not "Stickman" is the problem because there isn't really a good reason other than the fact that the "Stick" brand has a value and will increase sales."

Other than the reason that Stick Tennis is better sounding than Stickman Tennis.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Alex Chapman
Partner - Head of Interactive Media

7 0 0.0
Fran - that is right, no intention of doing anything about them.
The issue is with games that may lead people to believe that they are associated with Stick Sports - see [link url=http://www.sticksports.com/
]http://www.sticksports.com/
[/link]
These are good, honest and hard working guys who are in a very competitive space. Its hard getting attention on the App Store and when you see that someone else is using your brand and getting the coverage you should then you have to do something - especially as an independent dev with staff and bills to pay.

Posted:3 years ago

#11
Well then, might be worth making clear they're talking purely about sports games. I think one of the issues people had about Edge was that it could be applied to anything - highlighted by the whole Mirror's Edge fiasco. Their whole website get up revolves around sports, so that would be reasonable enough. I suspect if they started claiming sole right to the word Stick in video games titles then they'll have a PR problem on their hands, among the development community at least.

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Christopher McCraken
CEO/Production Director

106 240 2.3
The issue, Alex...is the attempt to defend a trademark for a *common* word. Stick is about as common as you can get. The issue here is, and Fran and you partially addressed is this: Trademarks have to be defended against dilution. Saying you wont attack someone who makes a game called "Stick Hangman" is all well and good, but to be honest...how does that fly? Typically, trademark dilution is considered within an industry, not a genre. That's definitely been my experience.

So, I find your explanation a little thin. Even *if* your explanation of the situation is valid....I find trying to trademark common words reprehensible at best...bottom feeding at worst. The Edge debacle notwithstanding...if you want to trademark...trademark something unique. Don't gobble up commonalities from the dictionary. From where I sit, its a slippery slope from stick to various other very general very common words. This is the same as if Square tried to suddenly trademark Fantasy.Imagine that one if you will. Imagine it further if they tried to use your excuse..."just in the realm of RPG's" Imagine what an uproar there would be...It might seem trivial to you, you might even think you're justified...

(Before you slide that example off the table: Square has probably spent billions more than your client promoting their brand. Final Fantasy. Imagine for just a moment, if they started suing any RPG maker who used the word Fantasy in their title. Fantasy is a pretty common word. )

...but in a world of trademark and patent trolling: what you're doing is a horrible use of the trademark protection. It's reprehensible, and while it will be sorted in a court, and may even be stamped as legitimate by a judge...but from where I sit, you're undoing the good you performed on behalf of Mobi.

Posted:3 years ago

#13
Alex you might have a point if the trademark was like "Wabbflooble Tennis" or "Wabbflooble Rugby" under the general brand called "Wabbflooble Sports". But it isn't Wabbflooble, it is a generic word "Stick". The general rule of thumb being that if someone wants to really build a brand and protect it with a trademark then they should do it with a combination of words that is either unique or hardly used.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Martin Piper on 5th February 2011 8:00am

Posted:3 years ago

#14

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

477 434 0.9
There's certainly a big difference between this and the Edge case, where the trademark owner had basically done nothing with the word for over a decade apart from sue other people for using it, and there was no chance of anyone mistaking the products he was suing for his own. But apart from the fact that apparently the Doodle guys trademarked Doodle Jump instead of just Doodle, there's no real difference between this and the Doodle case. Both are common words, both are descriptive of the art style, both have successful games to their name, apparently, and in both cases other people are putting that word in the title of their own games in a blatant attempt to cash in on their success. While Stick might have a stronger case, that's because they've taken out a more wide ranging, generic trademark. Painting them as the good guys and the creators of Doodle Jump as bad guys is somewhat disengenuous.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

714 496 0.7
Let's give 'em some boomstick!... Oh, wait, sorry, please don't sue me...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 5th February 2011 1:51pm

Posted:3 years ago

#16

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

929 150 0.2
Oh for goodness sake...seriously?

Posted:3 years ago

#17

David Bachowski
VP Business Development

66 0 0.0
The fact is there will always be developers trying to piggyback off of another studio's successful franchise by creating games with similar titles. It reeks of bad character, but I am not sure if it should be punishable by law...

Posted:3 years ago

#18

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now