The Kingsley brothers and their long-running UK games firm Rebellion faced a backlash via social media last night over their attempts to trademark their brand.
Their application to the United States Patent & Trademark Office to protect the word 'Rebellion' has been successful and is due to be published on May 15th, unless there is significant opposition.
That opposition may come from a plethora of independent authors, who took to Twitter last night behind the hashtag #RebellionGate to complain about how broad the Kingsleys' application appears to be. As it stands, the trademark seemingly prevents these (or any) authors from using the term 'Rebellion' in the title of their books.
Within the list of goods and services protected, Rebellion has understandably specified businesses in which it already operates, including video games, virtual reality, downloadable software and a myriad of variations for those terms.
However, it also includes some odd inclusions such as for global positioning systems, music composition software, cinematic films, household and kitchen utensils, combs and sponges, unworked or semi-worked glass (except building glass), egg cups, household linen, and Christmas tree decorations.
Of more concern to authors is the protection of Rebellion-branded books, magazines and other publications, across both print and digital. This has been deemed as a similar move by writer Faleena Hopkins, who tried to claim the word 'Cocky' for all romance novels earlier this year - a move that provoked outcry across that industry.
People! Stop trying to own common words in the English language! What the hell is wrong with you? Trademark unique phrases only you and your business use. Make the TM limited to what your business entails and its usage. Stop the madness! #rebelliongate#cockygate— Chris Almeida 👩👧➡️🇧🇷|🏠➡️🇨🇦|❤️➡️🇮🇪|🏳️🌈 (@CAlmeidaAuthor) May 10, 2018
CEO Jason Kingsley attempted to assuage these fears, stressing that his company is "not going after authors who use the name Rebellion in a book title", instead clarifying that it has been registered with publishing operations in mind. Rebellion already owns several such companies and brands, including comics label 2000 AD and book publishers Solaris, Abaddon Books and Ravenstone.
He also clarified that, while much of the anger is directed at the Kingsleys specifically, they did not draw up the trademark application themselves. Instead, it was handled by an agent, and Jason will be investigating this morning as to why the application is so overreaching, suggesting it could be a "data dump type of mistake."
#RebellionGate rumbles on, however, as unfortunately Rebellion's track record is not on its side. Back in 2012, the publisher took legal action against Ironclad Games over its strategy game, Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. In 2014, Ironclad reported that it had been granted the right to use 'Rebellion' in its title, but the UK developer planned to oppose this.
Given that Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion is still available on Steam, it seems they were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the various outraged authors on Twitter have been using this as evidence of Rebellion's motivations for "IP land grab".
Rebellion has held the trademark in various areas since it first formed in 1992, and this latest application was presumably to add more protection in certain areas. GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to the Kingsleys for comment and clarification on what their next step will be.