Renegade Studios Sends C&D To Stop Small Creator Using The Word 'Renegade'


Every few years in the TTRPG industry, this happens--a company attempts to prevent others from using certain words in their product names. Normally, that's a trademark issue and perfectly understandable: you can't call your game 'Dungeons & Dragons' for obvious reasons. But sometimes companies call in the lawyers to stop usage of common words or terms which are not trademarks in themselves. Games Workshop and 'space marine' hit mainstream news about 10 years ago, Lone Wolf issued C&Ds over the term 'army builder' in 2010, and now Renegade Game Studios--which makes a number of licensed TTRPGs such as Transformers, GI Joe, and Vampire: The Masquerade--has apparently laid claim to the word 'renegade'. This often results in the Streisand Effect and has the opposite result to that intended.

The Polyhedral Knights had a recent Kickstarter for a game called 'Renegade City' which is billed as a tabletop RPG where you play criminals, and uses dominoes rather than dice. According to Cannibal Halfling Gaming, a couple of days ago The Polyhedral Knights received a letter from Renegade Game Studios' lawyers demanding that they remove the word 'Renegade' from the title of the game.

“Unfortunately, your use of the term “Renegade” in the title of your new game creates the likelihood that consumers might be confused between our client’s games and your game, or believe that the two are connected or affiliated. The likelihood of confusion is particularly acute because you are using the “Renegade” element on the identical types of products that are sold by Renegade, and you are both selling to the same types of consumers in the same market channels. As such, Renegade must ask that you agree to rename your game to remove the “Renegade” element. As such, Renegade must ask that you agree to rename your game to remove the “Renegade” element.”

Renegade Game Studios has allegedly threatened to issue a trademark complaint to Kickstarter (although the campaign is over, so it's a little late for that!) unless The Polyhedral Knights complies by June 23rd.

Mickey Barfield, the creator of Renegade City, spoke to Cannibal Halfling Gaming a couple of days ago:

“It really caught me off guard and frankly upset me. I am blown away at how they can think that my game title “Renegade City” will take away from them in any shape or fashion. Our Kickstarter is about to end in 9 hours [3:08 PM EDT] and we just now get this? I’m still pretty hurt over this. It seems like if they are willing to go after me over something like this, then what is stopping another company like Wizards of the Coast from going after some other company cause the word Wizard is used in a title of a book or game? It’s crazy.”

The news first broke on Twitter when Sprinting Owl Designs reported that "a designer I've previously worked with (The Polyhedral Knights) reports that he just got cease and desisted by Renegade Game Studios (Hunter 5e, GI Joe) for having the word 'renegade' in his game's title."

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There are several problems with using the "they have to defend it to keep it" trademark law defense here. Yes, a company has to defend its trademark in order to keep the trademark under US intellectual property law. However:
  1. They own the trademark to "Renegade Game Studios" not simply the word "Renegade" on its own. They have no claims to the trademark for the word "Renegade" even in use in tabletop roleplaying games.
  2. There are over 300 titles on DriveThruRPG using the word "Renegade" in their titles, including the old FASA game Renegade Legions, the Onyx Path game Deviant: The Renegades, and the Mongoose "Renegade" line of class guides from the 3.x OGL era. I don't see Renegade Game Studio trying to bite the hand that feeds them by demanding Paradox pull down the old Renegades RPG from White Wolf.
  3. They aren't threatening to sue. Because that would mean having to prove their claims in court. Instead, they're whining to Kickstarter's trademark enforcement team as an end-around on the legal system.
There's a reason I brought up the Games Workshop "Space Marines" thing because this is precisely what they tried to do - appeal directly to Amazon to get a book from an independent self-published author pulled from sale. This has nothing to do with enforcing trademark as required under the law because, if that's what they wanted to do, they'd go to court not complain to Kickstarter.
Also add in the fact that looking at their product catalog, they have exactly ZERO products with the word "Renegade" in the title. In fact, the only time that word ever appears on a product is only tiny in the corner and always as part of the Renegade Game Studios logo. (As if the evidence wasn't already conclusive enough that this is a BS claim on their part, and I wish all the bad PR on them that they deserve for this.)

aramis erak

Whoever owns the rights to the old FASA game Renegade Legion has the opportunity to do something hilarious right now.
Nice idea, but since the RL hasn't been used in trade for at least a decade... not likely to be legally allowable.
Both Dominos and fake Jenga sets are available at most Dollar Stores.
Not near me...
Used casino decks are, but no dice, no jenga, no dominos... and I have been checking.

"Super Wal*Mart" stores (ones with more than food, pharmacy, and cleaning supplies) usually have dominoes, jenga, and dice... plus decent acetate card decks (for drink and cheetohs resistance)...

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