EA gives up on trademarking “Ghost” video game

Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Electronic Arts has withdrawn a trademark application it filed for an unannounced property called “Ghost” last week, possibly to avoid a legal dispute with Ubisoft, which claimed the filing would infringe on a copyright of its own. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Electronic Arts relinquished its claim on the trademark, which would have covered an “on-line computer game.”

Ubisoft filed a request in January asking the office to deny the application because a video game called “Ghost” might cause confusion among consumers when compared to Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon franchise. According to Ubisoft’s dispute, the product EA called “Ghost” would be “identical and highly related to the goods and services offered by [Ubisoft] in connection with the GHOST RECON marks.”

Electronic Arts’ withdrawal comes less than a week before the March 9 deadline for Electronic Arts to “respond” to the complaint, at which point the dispute might have gone to court, if the two publishers were unable to negotiate an amicable solution themselves. The company initially filed the trademark for the game, as well as a second for media related to the property, in March, 2015.

Video game publishers’ preference for short, broadly evocative titles has led to a few odd trademark battles over the years. Candy Crush: Saga developer King pursued legal action against indie developer Stoic over the use of the word “Saga” in their norse-themed strategy game, The Banner Saga. Similarly, The Elder Scrolls publisher Bethesda sued Minecraft developer Mojang for making a card game called Scrolls.

Though the “Ghost” skirmish did not last long enough to earn itself a place as one of the gaming industry’s essential silly copyright disputes, it highlights how overly minimalist marketing may lead to AAA developers running out video game names before too long.

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