community games industry

Trademarked game-names – Stick it!

Oh dear, Sheridan’s. Money talks? After winning so much (accidental?) respect in the games industry, for defending against The Wicked Edge of The West, you then had to go and sue developers for using the word “Stick” in the names of their games.

Reaction? Well … severe enough that this lawfirm just put out a press-release to defend itself.

IMHO, this one is a little shakey, but I’m no lawyer and TM law is notoriously strong … so it’s unlikely any of the current crop of defendants can afford the legal fees. If I had the spare cash and I were in their situation, I’d defend it vigourously – but only if I could afford to lose the money; chances of success wouldn’t be great. Maybe Stick Golf has enough cash from their Apple featured status (but doesn’t the fact they’ve been ignored for a year, despite being top of the App Store, rather weaken the TM attack a little?) The trademark certainly exists – but I can think of a lot of minor (and some not-so-minor) unlicensed uses of it over the past 10 years (yes, 10 – i.e. 5 more years than the trademark’s been around – so the TM isn’t perfect), and I bet a good enough law firm could make quite a fuss with it.

Hmm. It’s obvious this was going to cause a big reputational hit, and perhaps someone at Sheridan’s deserves a firecracker lit under them for making the call on this. At what point should a lawfirm decide to reject a client? IMHO, and IME, in any service industry you’re as defined by the engagements you refuse as by the ones you accept. “Ignorance” seems an unlikely defence here, given they’ve got Alex Chapman, who I’m sure had a good idea what might happen if they did this.

How bad? Well, Sheridan’s is big enough they probably don’t care about the indie-dollar; so, maybe it really won’t affect them. Except that a lot of us sooner or later hold senior corporate positions, and we don’t tend to forget companies that go around shafting our fellows. Althouh Sheridans already does badly on Google thanks to pure bad luck – Tommy Sheridan – once you filter out the story of the swinger getting sued, indie-rage starts to make big inroads into the other links. Oops.