Ubisoft is facing a trademark complaint filed by a rock band that just happens to have the same name as one of its upcoming products. The claim has forced the company to delay the game in question in Europe and defend itself in court. The French publisher announced this morning that its music game Rocksmith won't be released in Europe until sometime in 2012, citing "music licensing" and "other external factors" as the causes.
But the real reason for the delay is because of a UK-based rock band called Rocksmith (who holds the trademark) has filed a complaint. Rocksmith percussionist Kris Ford told Eurogamer this morning that it wanted to work with Ubisoft but was basically ignored until he filed a complaint against the company with the OHIM, the European Union agency responsible for registering trademarks and designs in the EU.
"I wrote to Ubisoft and said, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I already own the name Rocksmith, and I've just discovered you're planning on launching the game," Ford told Eurogamer. "Instead of messing around getting involved in big legal issues, why don't we do some kind of deal, because obviously I've got the band, you've got the game, the two would work well side-by-side.
"We could promote the game, you could promote the band - we'll even give you some songs to put on there."
"And they just ignored me," Ford said.
When he filed formal opposition against Ubisoft's application for the game, the publisher finally took heed, he claims.
"I couldn't not oppose it," he explained, "because if I let it slip, then I'd miss the boat. So I had to make a formal opposition, which I did do, and lo-and-behold in three days I got a letter from Ubisoft saying, 'Oh, yeah, in response to your earlier letter...' And of course I just laughed because it was obvious that they hadn't responded to my earlier letters, they'd responded to my formal opposition."
Ford alleges that Ubisoft has threatened him with a defamation of character action for comments he's made in the media.
"I'm not quite sure what they mean by that," he admitted. "They were just being bullies I think, because there's nothing I've said that can't be backed up with absolute fact. I've got documents proving that I registered the name."
Ford suspects that the process will be slow and that it could take as long as February of next year before his complaint is addressed. He goes on to say that the ball is Ubisoft's court, and that he's willing to hammer out a deal, but time is not on Ubisoft's side; the longer they take the more it will cost them, he says.
Ubisoft confirmed the complaint and said that it respected the process:
"We confirm that Christopher Ford has filed a complaint regarding our request to trademark the name Rocksmith for a video game," Ubisoft told Eurogamer in a statement. "We respect the rules that the trademark office has set up to handle this kind of issue and will respond accordingly."