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Cyberpunk Namer Wishes CD Projekt Red Would Contact Him Over Trademark

Bruce Bethke coined the term 'cyberpunk' before you were born. Unless you're old like me.

News by Mike Williams, .

Last week, CD Projekt Red addressed concerns that its trademark on 'cyberpunk' would lead to creators in the genre being unable to use the term. Despite that, the legal situation isn't making everyone happy. Bruce Bethke coined the term back in 1980, as the title and focus of a short story he wrote. Bethke has seen attempts on the trademark come and go and he remains skeptical of CD Projekt Red's claim on the term.

"My understanding of American trademark law is that trademark depends on context," Bethke told World Trademark Review, which is a real site all about trademark news. "[So] while you can trademark a logotype or a unique variation – eg, as I recall, R. Talsorian Games' trademark was specifically for a role-playing game named 'Cyberpunk 2020' – you can't just trademark a word for all purposes everywhere. Hence when some company back in the 1980s tried to claim a trademark on the word 'cyberpunk' because they were publishing a Cyberpunk comic book, well, tough – it didn't hold up."

Bethke, like a number of other folks out there, still has a few concerns about CD Projekt Red's use of the trademark. He's still a working author, so he'd like for the term to be free to use in other creations outside of CDPR's watchful eye.

"I do rather wish someone from CD Projekt Red would contact me, though, to clarify a few of my concerns," he said. "Most of all, I wish people all over the internet would pay a tiny percentage of their attention to what I'm doing now, as opposed to something I did 37 years ago. I really wish that just once, someone would offer me an enormous fucking pile of money to lay hands upon them and pronounce them the one true purveyor of cyberpunk."

Bethke has previously said that he wishes he had "bloody well trademarked the damned thing" himself way back when he first coined the term.

Cyberpunk 2077 currently has no release date or window. Perhaps it's never coming out. All is sadness and despair.

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Comments 10

  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #1 chaoticBeat 9 days ago
    Will there ever be a day on this planet when the end goal isn't getting your hands on enormous fucking pile of money?
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  • Avatar for One_Vurfed_Gwrx #2 One_Vurfed_Gwrx 9 days ago
    @chaoticBeat I see his point being about how it shouldn't have been allowed a trademark. I don't know much about trademark law but it does seem odd that in the circumstances that CD Projekt can trademark it even if I do see why they would try.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #3 chaoticBeat 9 days ago
    @One_Vurfed_Gwrx Oh yeah, I think you're right. I wasn't trying to comment on his situation even though I see how it could be easily taken that way.The way that he put that so succinctly just made me reflect on how money is such a universal goal. I wish that things were different for all of us and that wasn't the case.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #4 VotesForCows 9 days ago
    I'm with Bethke on this - we're working on protecting some of our research at the moment, and it does seem like you can't just trademark a word in toto. Nor should you be able to, that'd be ridiculous. So hopefully CDPR's trademark won't hold up to a legal challenge, should anyone make one.
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  • So much misinformation....... Maybe read up on what CD Project released about the Trademark.
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  • @VotesForCows CD Project already released statements about why they Trademark it and that they won't be doing what SkyTV does
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #7 MHWilliams 9 days ago
    @puptwilightpatterson The link to it is literally in the first line of the article. You couldn't take a second to actually see if if was addressed because you were typing up two posts saying the same thing.

    Amazing.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #8 Roto13 9 days ago
    Think he might be a little bit bitter?
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  • Avatar for Rosydey6 #9 Rosydey6 7 days ago
  • Avatar for Mixingmetaphorsoup #10 Mixingmetaphorsoup 6 days ago
    While I can definitely see Bethke's point, and I do very much agree with him, this is one of those awful legal gray areas that kinda just makes me hate the IP laws more than anything else.
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