Earlier in the year, I received an email from the CEO of Industry Entertainment, Nemanja Bondzulic. The sole purpose of the email was to promote Industry Entertainment’s upcoming space game, Astroids: Space Game of The Year, an ambiguously-titled game that involves flying a spaceship through an asteroid field.
Immediately I was confused, believing I had somehow missed the standard release that typically comes before a Game of the Year edition. So I did some searching, and it turns out that the developers were actually calling their yet-to-be-released game, the “Game of the Year”. The phrase “game of the year” was actually its own bullet, on the bulleted list attached to the press release. I noted the fact that the developers were based out of Serbia, so I dismissed the questionable title as an attempt at humor which was lost in translation.
Atari, on the other hand, wasn’t cool with the title. A recent email from Bondzulic explains that Atari, likely in the defense of their classic Asteroids property, is requiring that Industry Entertainment rename Astroids: Space Game of the Year to something else.
Now before everyone grabs their pitchforks and heads out to smite the big guys, let me post, verbatim, the description that Industry Entertainment is using to describe their upcoming game.
“Astroids is a 3D space video-game where player in its spaceship has to shoot everything that’s standing on its way. In a manner of the best visual games, this is a spacecraft with lasers, rockets and other weapons in a space combat. Defending himself from asteroids that are flying around, player has to take care of explosions, asteroid particles and other spaceships. Player can only count on his own reflexes, speed, weapon destruction power and the shield to protect himself.”
Apart from mention of rockets and shields, that sounds exactly like a 3D version of Atari’s existing property. Even though the two games are spelled differently (Astroids vs. Asteroids [the correct spelling]) the games do not vary enough for Atari to be comfortable with the little variation in the name.
And frankly, I don’t blame them, and neither does Industry Entertainment.
“We will respect Atari’s request but that leaves us without a name for our beloved game,” Industry Entertainment explains on their blog. “So, we have decided to organize a mini competition for choosing the best name for our game.” Visit their blog to add in a suggestion for a new title.
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the whole trademark thing is supposed to play out, —fair, and painless.