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

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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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S'mon

Legend
Not surprising when you assume the lawyers have to get billable hours. The article I read about this said/implied that these lawyers who work in trademarks sit around and try to drum up the craziest thing they can trademark.

This is usually in-house lawyers, who are salaried and need to show they're earning their keep.
 

Abstruse

Legend
This is a very strange motivation for your C&D. Did you talk with an IP lawyer?

Re Rockstar, well the game is using their trade dress, but most jurisdictions require origin confusion, not just a calling to mind. It seems pretty clear to me that the game is not Grand Theft Auto or an authorised version so I suspect it may be ok. Here in England the claim would be Passing Off, which requires a Misrepresentation. Conversely trade mark infringement is an easier claim, especially for famous Marks.
In the US, the trade dress is very likely close enough to be infringing and any case would likely hinge on a "parody" defense due to the similarities - same font, same art style, same art layout, etc.

Regardless, that would be for the courts and/or the lawyers of Rockstar and Polyhedral Knights to sort out. Renegade Game Studios sticking their nose in is completely unnecessary and their grounds for claiming a trademark violation are laughable at best. Even the best read of the situation is that RGS decided in their own heads that Rockstar games would 1) notice, 2) take offense, and 3) take legal actions against RGS for...reasons? So to prevent that from happening, they had to threaten to shut down the guy's Kickstarter campaign with a spurious trademark claim he's unable to fight.
 


White Wolf had to change the title "Aeon" and their new sci-fi RPG was renamed Trinity.


Could the game be renamed "Criminalopolis: the renegades"? Or "Cacocrazy: city of renegades".
 

Jedion357

Explorer
Renegade’s intent is only to protect its brand and prevent any direct or indirect confusion. In this specific case, the game in question bares an extremely strong resemblance to an intellectual property not owned or licensed by Renegade Game Studios. Even an accidental affiliation, today or in the future, is something we would prefer to avoid. Our intent was to prevent any such confusion well before any issues arise and while there is still time to make changes before their production begins.
Are you out of your ever-loving mind????!!!! I hate bullies and this is bullying behavior. Assinine to the max and I'll be making a note to never buy or promote any Renegade Game Studios products. In fact, I'm on my way to Tenkar's Tavern to share a post of his coverage of this BS and help spread the word. Your name belongs up there with WotC and the Pinkertons.
 

Cordwainer Fish

Imp. Int. Scout Svc. (Dishon. Ret.)
Renegade’s intent is only to protect its brand and prevent any direct or indirect confusion. In this specific case, the game in question bares an extremely strong resemblance to an intellectual property not owned or licensed by Renegade Game Studios. Even an accidental affiliation, today or in the future, is something we would prefer to avoid. Our intent was to prevent any such confusion well before any issues arise and while there is still time to make changes before their production begins.
May thy knife chip and shatter.
 


Abstruse

Legend
White Wolf had to change the title "Aeon" and their new sci-fi RPG was renamed Trinity.


Could the game be renamed "Criminalopolis: the renegades"? Or "Cacocrazy: city of renegades".
White Wolf was also more or less at their peak. They were a pretty large company with a huge market share in TTRPGs, and could afford the cost and staff to make a bunch of stickers and have people spend all day in the warehouse slapping them onto hardcovers.

This is a small indie company that barely cleared a $3000 funding goal on Kickstarter who now has to redo their entire publishing budget to rebrand everything.

Also, this is something they shouldn't have to do in the first place because the entire claim rests on Renegade Game Studios stating that they own the exclusive rights to use the word "Renegade" in tabletop games. Which is utter nonsense.
 

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