Ubisoft Loses Watch Dogs Trademark to “Fraudulent” Abandonment Request
Ubisoft is finding itself in a rather unusual position just a few months away from the anticipated release of their new franchise, Watch Dogs. It seems as though the publisher has abandoned the trademark for the upcoming game but Ubisoft bosses claim that the abandonment of the trademark was not of their doing and that the game is still going to come out.
Over the last few months, Watch Dogs has been the subject of many rumours and much speculation. The game’s late delay fueled speculation that the game was set to be cancelled outright. Recently, the Wii U version of the game has been subject to rumours that Ubisoft could be cancelling it despite the publisher being one of the console’s biggest third-party supporters. And that doesn’t even cover fan belief that the game ties into the Assassin’s Creed franchise/universe.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Ubisoft filed for an “express abandonment” of the Watch Dogs trademark and had that abandonment granted on February 1st.
For their part, Ubisoft claims that the abandonment request was fraudulent. The company issued a statement saying:
“On February 1, 2014, Ubisoft Entertainment received an email from TEAS@uspto.gov notifying Ubisoft Entertainment that a Request for Express Abandonment had been filed in connection with Application Serial No. 85642398. The Request for Express Abandonment purports to be signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft Entertainment, Yves Guillemot. Mr. Guillemot, however, did not sign the Request for Express Abandonment, nor did Ubisoft Entertainment file the Request for Express Abandonment. The Request for Express Abandonment is fraudulent and was not filed by Ubisoft Entertainment or its representative.”
I don’t know enough about US trademark law to know the implications of the abandonment or if Ubisoft will be able to reverse the abandonment, whether or not what they say happened is true. It’s not a good position for Ubisoft to not hold the trademark for their next big triple-A franchise. Beyond people being able to blatantly rip-off the title Watch Dogs without consequences, they should be worried about knock-off merchandising eating into their revenue as well.
Ubisoft says that the game is currently being polished and rumours suggest that the game has a targeted release date in the last week of April / first week of May. We’ll have to see if their trademark trouble affects that in any way.