Earlier this week, The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt Red got into some boiling water when it was revealed that it filed for and acquired the trademark for "Cyberpunk" in the European Union. Given that cyberpunk is an entire genre across various media, folks were understandably worried. The feeling was that CD Projekt Red would crowd out other creators in the genre with their trademark.
So CD Projekt Red took to Twitter to explain the thought process behind the trademark. Notably, the company wants to be able to make Cyberpunk sequels without other folks getting in its way.
Information about Cyberpunk trademark. pic.twitter.com/4mufRCp9Gf— CD PROJEKT RED (@CDPROJEKTRED) April 6, 2017
"Cyberpunk 2077, the game we're working on, is a massive project and we've already invested a lot of hard work and resources into making it the best game we can. We have to ensure that we will be the only entity that can use its exact name and naming scheme," said the studio.
"Life knows quite a few examples of companies registering marks similar to well-known marks, and then trying to sell them for big money. Should we ever decide to create a sequel, there's a possibility of someone telling us we can't name it, say, 'Cyberpunk 2078' or 'Cyberpunk 2.' Moreover, if someone else registers this trademark in the future, they could prohibit CD Projekt from making any expansions to the game, [or] any additional titles under the name 'Cyberpunk.' The reason for our registration is to protect us from unlawful actions of unfair competitors."
CD Projekt Red pointed out that it has held the Cyberpunk trademark registrations in the United States since 2011. The developer also took pains to explain that folks can still use the word Cyberpunk in their works, just not in the specific naming scheme that it's using.
"Use of a protected word in a title may be prohibited only if it could confuse the customers. The trademark right cannot prohibit using a word as a descriptive term," CD Projekt Red added. "If someone names their game 'John Smith: Adventures in a Cyberpunk Dystopian Society,' or '20 Short Videogames Set in Cyberpunk Worlds,' none of them should be treated as an infringement of our rights. This is because, despite being part of the title, there is no risk that the consumers would associate these games with CD Projekt."
So things are a bit touch and go, but it's not as bad as some surmised.