Grand Theft Auto’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive, released Hazelight Studio’s game, It Takes Two, with a trademark claim. Records show that Hazelight apparently been forced to give up ownership of the game name.
In a statement to Eurogamer, A Hazelight spokesperson told the outlet the studio has no comment on ongoing disputes but hopes the situation will be resolved. Take-Two has also filed trademark claims for names containing words such as “Rockstar”, “Social Club”, “Mafia” and “Civilization”. These words all have connections with products or services that Take-Two owns, such as Rockstar Games, Rockstar Social Club, and the Mafia franchise.
Not only Hazelight is affected, but also other companies that have nothing to do with the gaming industry. A clothing brand “Max Fayne” was included in Take-Two’s branding claims, presumably due to its proximity to the studio’s Max Payne franchise. An ax throwing company in Florida called “Rockstar Ax Throwing” is also trying to defy Take-Two’s trademark claim, while a music book brand called “Think Like a Rockstar” has given up on Take-Two’s claim.
You can see that some companies have chosen to just give up their brands instead of fighting against a company as big as Take-Two as it tries to expand the claims. Virtual legality‘s Richard Hoeg says, “You can find that applicants rigorously restrict their own applications to try not to be renewed. And so do many people with legitimate applications who simply choose not to fight by the opposition do not attack. “
Regarding It Takes Two, Hoeg says that since it is not a company name and the term is used ubiquitously in goods and services, “I would guess that they just are no longer protected and are relying on copyright law,” explains Hoeg .
Take-Two has been doing something of a legal kick lately, like reverse engineering GTA 3 and suing Vice City creators as well as GTA modders.
It Takes Two creator Josef Fares made a name for himself with an open appearance at the Game Awards 2018. Maybe he’ll have a similar mindset at the 2021 Game Awards next week, where It Takes Two will be nominated for Best Game, among other things.
George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @yinyangfooey