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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Mr_Squarepeg

Villager
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.
Honestly - I do not know what to say except this feels to me like bully behavior to me.
 

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SpaceOtter

Drifting in otter space
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.

This, so much this. I mean, I'm sorry, but even if Rockstar took issue (and that's an "if") and mistakenly contacted Renegade Game Studios (another "if"), what does RGS do? They simply say, "Wrong folks, sorry, look over there." That's it. Done. No hassle, no problem, quick and easy.

The fact that instead they're going after a small indie RPG which happens to share their name (ignoring the swathe of other RPGs that have Renegade in the title) makes me more inclined to believe that's just an excuse for the fact that they're pointlessly trying to slap a small publisher around for spurious reasons. A stupendously weak excuse, at that.

Between this and the Werewolf 5e controversies (among others), RGS will never see a dime from me. Too many thoughtless, bone-headed decisions.
 




Irlo

Hero


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
(And that's without even getting into the merits of the "why" you posted which, oof. Claiming ownership of a common word is going to get you all of the bad PR you could want and even if it turns out that it's legally upheld you're still going to be mocked about it forever.

Asserting ownership over a common word because an even larger third party might come knocking mistakenly is also pretty weird. It starts from the presumption that the larger third party is kind of incompetent, and then tries pretty crummy application of trademark as a defense. Not exactly keeping the problem clean, hey what?

Like, if you are afraid of that mistake, why issue a nonsensical C&D, when you could pre-emptively go to the third party and inform them that possibly infringing product isn't yours?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Hey, Wait @ScottG - Renegade Game Studios has not existed since 2017. The Status of your company says "Terminated". My question is who owns Renegade Game Studios now? Because this all seems very sus to be honest.

OK, folks, let's back off little bit, eh? We can discuss the company's recent actions without becoming amateur cybersleuths hunting for incomplete crumbs of information we can twist into some kind of vague accusation of... something. Stick to the topic at hand, please; we don't want to get creepy.
 


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