Wasteland developer uses Cease and Desist to get game name changed

InXile wasn't too happy with the name Alien Wasteland on Steam.

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In today's business world, it's important to protect your trademark, otherwise you run the risk of it falling into the public domain, like Thermos and Trampoline. So we aren't too surprised that InXile Entertainment has used its lawyers to whack a developer with the C&D stick over its game The Alien Wasteland.

Devdan, the lone developer on the action shooter on Steam, said he got the letter from the Wasteland developer because of the similarity in the game names. "Because both games have almost nothing in common and no case of confusion was ever reported for almost two years since my game was first announced, I have been calmly explaining through long emails why we should have no worries about this," he said in a blog post (via GameIndustry.biz). "But I finally ended up receiving a cease and desist letter from their lawyer asking to either stop using 'wasteland' or to prepare facing (sic) legal actions against me."

InXile's Wasteland is an isometric RPG, while The Alien Wasteland was a first person shooter. However, to avoid the legal trouble, DevDan said the game name is now Action Alien.

"Since I don't have the time nor the strength to deal with legal actions from this developer and its lawyers, or even taking the risk of having my game to be took down (sic) from Steam, I decided to change the title to solve this issue, even though this has been a great loss in time and efforts for a very questionable complain (sic)," he said. 

InXile boss Brian Fargo was upset a deal could not be worked out. "I too am frustrated that we couldn’t work out some fair and simple gentleman’s agreement like we have with others in the past," he told Shacknews. "His only option was for us to pay him money and that simply made no sense. I’m certain that if he had sat down and had a reasonable conversation we would have worked out an arrangement that was to his benefit. Even now we’d still be happy to help him promote his game as we would have from the start."

InXile associate producer Thomas Beekers said in a post in the company's forums  inXile has a registered trademark for Wasteland for computer games. "We do not know if the developer of Action Alien was aware of our Registered trademark when he initially named his game and bear absolutely no ill will towards the creator of Action Alien or the game. We always look for amicable win-win solutions in these cases, where we seek to protect our mark as any prudent business would do, while also helping the other party promote their game and provide a bigger reach than he otherwise would get, so that both parties benefit. In fact, that offer still stands now."

In retrospect, it probably wasn't a good idea to mess with a company's game that has Desert Rangers enforcing the law.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 4, 2016 8:50 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Wasteland developer uses Cease and Desist to get game name changed

    • reply
      May 4, 2016 9:18 AM

      Hooray for corporations and shitty IP laws winning again!

      • reply
        May 4, 2016 10:01 AM

        if it was your trademark, you'd probably feel differently.
        Trademarks rights must be maintained through actual lawful use of the trademark. These rights will cease if a mark is not actively used for a period of time, normally 5 years in most jurisdictions. In the case of a trademark registration, failure to actively use the mark in the lawful course of trade, or to enforce the registration in the event of infringement, may also expose the registration itself to become liable for an application for the removal from the register after a certain period of time on the grounds of "non-use".
        from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark

    • reply
      May 4, 2016 9:25 AM

      dick move

    • reply
      May 4, 2016 9:36 AM

      shitty

    • reply
      May 4, 2016 9:59 AM

      Regardless of how shitty that game looked, InXile can git fucked. This is in the same sphere as the 'Saga' trademark that the Candy Crush people were trying to use.

    • reply
      May 4, 2016 10:00 AM

      thats kinda shitty of them. unless they have some Wasteland game set in space already in the works maybe?

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      May 4, 2016 10:11 AM

      Question: so in running metroidvanias.com, do I run the risk of getting a take down notice from Nintendo if I was making revenue from the site (which I'm not right now)?

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        May 4, 2016 10:18 AM

        Yes you do. Even though you aren't making money it's still a violation and Nintendo could bring you down.

        The example above is questionable though. Wasteland is a descriptive term which while it is trademarked doesn't give it crate Blanc over every piece of software with that name. Windows could be used in a software name if its distinctive enough.

        In both cases it would be a legal battle.

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          May 4, 2016 10:42 AM

          Windows couldn't be used in the name of an OS though. This really isn't too complicated, dudes.

          • reply
            May 4, 2016 10:48 AM

            But could it be used in the description of a video game that can be played on an OS, such as The Sims?

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          May 4, 2016 11:16 AM

          Thanks. I have had explorationplatformers.com secured for the past two years just in case.

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            May 4, 2016 1:49 PM

            Not a bad idea.

            While it's just for personal use and occasional conversations about them, I've taken to calling them Explore & Expand games.

            I generally see exploration and expansion (character, knowledge, abilities) to be the core elements of the style.

            Before Waking Mars I had considered combat to be integral, but it showed me that it absolutely is not required, which was neat to discover.

            Anyway, in general I find using other game names in/as the descriptor seems kind of weird, as fun a name as Metroidvania is, it's probably time enough that a more general term is agreed on. We don't call games Doom or GTA Clones anymore, and even only counting from Symphony it's been 19 years.

            All that said, I'd be fairly shocked if you got a notice.

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          May 4, 2016 11:28 AM

          im sorry but lol @ crate blanc

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      May 4, 2016 10:12 AM

      Good god does this game look horrific.

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      May 4, 2016 10:41 AM

      super shitty. Guess I won't be backing any InXile kickstarters in the future.

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        May 4, 2016 1:00 PM

        The dude basically tried to extort InXile.

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          May 4, 2016 1:29 PM

          Did he though? He disagreed with their premise. Given his options are to give in (which he did), take them to court (which he couldn't afford), or settle, changing the name but getting something out of it (instead of nothing), can you really blame him for trying?

          Getting some money is literally the only solution that doesn't fuck him over for no benefit.

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            May 4, 2016 1:43 PM

            He wasn't fucked but a name change. Demanding money was greed, nothing more.

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              May 4, 2016 2:16 PM

              He made a game and gave it a name and then was told "You have to change it, or else". Asking for money isn't a ridiculous proposition at all.

    • reply
      May 4, 2016 12:28 PM

      To be fair if I heard there was a game coming called The Alien Wasteland, I might think it was from the same developer too at first.

      For a while I avoided Cities Skylines because I thought it was from the same shitty developer as Cities XL.

      I also thought D4 was a sequel to D and D2 somehow.

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        May 4, 2016 2:16 PM

        Every time I hear Runescape, I get excited thinking it's a sequel to Rune.

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      May 4, 2016 2:15 PM

      Good

    • reply
      May 4, 2016 2:27 PM

      This doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to me.

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