inXile forces indie dev to change title of $1.99 game from 'Alien Wasteland'

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Zombra
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Re: inXile forces indie dev to change title of $1.99 game from 'Alien Wasteland'

Post by Zombra » May 26th, 2016, 6:33 pm

Sorry to resurrect a pretty sore thread, but I just heard about this and wanted to weigh in.

Disclaimer: yes, I am a moderator on the forums. But inXile doesn't pay me a cent, and I have my own opinions. At worst, I am biased in that I like them, but that has nothing to do with my position.

Several posters here seem very eager to point the finger and identify someone as the "bad guy". I don't see a bad guy here, just different companies in an unfortunate combination of circumstances. If there's a "bad guy" here it's the law about aggressive protection.

Would it have been "nicer" for inXile to have ignored the law? I guess, but that would have been blatantly self-destructive. To ignore it would have been the same as saying "We don't care about Wasteland; let Bethesda steal the name from us." Hell, Bethesda is already making inroads and trying to cash in on the Wasteland name with that obnoxious DLC. If inXile didn't do anything to protect the name, Beth would probably steal it just based on that.

It seems kind of like a law that says "If you don't call the police about loiterers, you're not allowed to call them about burglars." You may not care about the loiterers outside your store, but if you don't aggressively protect your rights, you're pretty much asking burglars to break in and steal everything.

The one thing they could not do was nothing.

I get where Dan Games is coming from. The guy was oblivious and his only crime was neglecting his homework. I can even see why he asked for money; there'll be lost revenue over the name change, he'll have to rebuild the hype all over, there'll be labor involved in converting assets. But he went wrong feeling that he was somehow entitled to money from inXile (and that sense of entitlement is quite clear in his statements). inXile isn't responsible for this situation at all, assuming that they don't want to abandon the IP to anyone who cares to steal it. To me, some kind of gofundme would have been a much better idea (Who knows? inXile might even have chipped in with some of Brian's "Kicking it Forward" type money. I don't know).

This isn't a case of the big guy stomping on the little guy for malice and $. This is the medium-sized guy who needed to sacrifice a little guy to protect himself from the big guy.
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Re: inXile forces indie dev to change title of $1.99 game from 'Alien Wasteland'

Post by Ash_ZA » July 13th, 2016, 11:12 am

oh please. This is really a sad day for inXile. The name alien wasteland does not justify the actions no matter what. (I also just found out about it)

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marceror
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Re: inXile forces indie dev to change title of $1.99 game from 'Alien Wasteland'

Post by marceror » October 25th, 2016, 9:27 pm

So how does this trademark work? Is the word "Wasteland" considered by inXile to be completely off limits for use? They have a game called Wasteland, so obviously calling a game Wasteland is a problem.

But I don't see how a game title with the word Wasteland tagged on with other words is a trademark infringement. Alien Wasteland is not "Wasteland".

If something was called "Wasteland of the Mind" would inXile claim trademark on that too? I mean, the word Wasteland is in use all over the place. This seems silly, and its adding to a list of annoyances that I'm having with a once highly respected developer. I also love how once they pop in with their "simple logic" explanation in this thread, and get asked a few somewhat "harder questions" they just bail the hell out.

If you're in the right, man up and defend it, no? inXile seems to like to dodge "hard" questions, like, how many party members will be included in WL3. They seem to be positively tongue tied with that one. :P

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Re: inXile forces indie dev to change title of $1.99 game from 'Alien Wasteland'

Post by kilobug » October 26th, 2016, 2:57 am

marceror wrote:So how does this trademark work? Is the word "Wasteland" considered by inXile to be completely off limits for use? They have a game called Wasteland, so obviously calling a game Wasteland is a problem.

But I don't see how a game title with the word Wasteland tagged on with other words is a trademark infringement. Alien Wasteland is not "Wasteland".
Well, the issue is what the law says, not what seems fair or logical to us ;) The law says that since inXile is owner of the trademark "Wasteland" in video games, no one can use it in the name of a video game without their agreement - perhaps silly, but when you consider search engines it's not that silly.

And the same legal system, which neither us nor inXile wrote, says that if you don't enforce a trademark once, it gets harder to enforce later on - so if inXile doesn't enforce their trademark on "Alien Wasteland", that can be used against them in any later conflict over the trademark "Wasteland".
marceror wrote:If you're in the right, man up and defend it, no? inXile seems to like to dodge "hard" questions, like, how many party members will be included in WL3. They seem to be positively tongue tied with that one. :P
They did explain in details what they did and why on that topic, and there is nothing more we can expect from them. As for the party members in WL3, I stand with the reason I gave in the dedicated thread : they just don't know yet. Game is in very early stage, such details aren't locked so early.

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Re: inXile forces indie dev to change title of $1.99 game from 'Alien Wasteland'

Post by marceror » October 26th, 2016, 8:03 am

kilobug wrote:
marceror wrote:So how does this trademark work? Is the word "Wasteland" considered by inXile to be completely off limits for use? They have a game called Wasteland, so obviously calling a game Wasteland is a problem.

But I don't see how a game title with the word Wasteland tagged on with other words is a trademark infringement. Alien Wasteland is not "Wasteland".
Well, the issue is what the law says, not what seems fair or logical to us ;) The law says that since inXile is owner of the trademark "Wasteland" in video games, no one can use it in the name of a video game without their agreement - perhaps silly, but when you consider search engines it's not that silly.

And the same legal system, which neither us nor inXile wrote, says that if you don't enforce a trademark once, it gets harder to enforce later on - so if inXile doesn't enforce their trademark on "Alien Wasteland", that can be used against them in any later conflict over the trademark "Wasteland".
If that's truly what the law says (and I'm taking your word for it at this point), than fair enough, I guess. An entire dictionary word is reserved in gaming just for one legal entity (except I guess for the various companies who have used it in their game titles previously -- they are totally fine, and apparently it wasn't a problem for Wasteland to infringe upon that word when they first used it). It's a good thing they didn't call the game "The Wasteland" or we might have a Knights who say Ni situation in gaming right now. :lol:

And I guess it's totally acceptable to use for a movie than? Which would respond on search engine searches also, just to point it out. Or perhaps a Web Series that anyone with a camera could post online -- it wouldn't be a game after all. Or a book title? Etc., etc.?
kilobug wrote:
marceror wrote:If you're in the right, man up and defend it, no? inXile seems to like to dodge "hard" questions, like, how many party members will be included in WL3. They seem to be positively tongue tied with that one. :P
They did explain in details what they did and why on that topic, and there is nothing more we can expect from them. As for the party members in WL3, I stand with the reason I gave in the dedicated thread : they just don't know yet. Game is in very early stage, such details aren't locked so early.
Like I've said previously, this isn't their first rodeo. I find it rather unlikely that something as basic as party size isn't decided early on their THIRD Wasteland game, or at least inXile should have a preference or a vision for this. At a minimum, even if somehow they have no idea... drop in and say that! I remember being told during the TToN Kickstarter that the party size would likely not be 6, most likely 4, but they were still looking at it. They also provided some reasoning for why they were looking at a smaller party size. It's called communication.

The natives are getting restless, and inXile seems to be on autopilot. This lack of core details is holding their crowdfunding campaign back as a lot of people just aren't sure what sort of game WL3 is trying to become -- seemingly more of a mass market driven game than previous titles. The devs really can't answer a few questions?? Than I suppose I can't be bothered to pledge. But I'm rather off topic.

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Re: inXile forces indie dev to change title of $1.99 game from 'Alien Wasteland'

Post by Zombra » October 26th, 2016, 10:54 am

marceror wrote:An entire dictionary word is reserved in gaming just for one legal entity (except I guess for the various companies who have used it in their game titles previously -- they are totally fine, and apparently it wasn't a problem for Wasteland to infringe upon that word when they first used it).
Ehhh ... were there really that many computer games called Wasteland before Wasteland? Like, more than zero?

If so, then I imagine the law would have applied to them as well, yes ... if the creators of such a game had actively pursued their rights to the trademark when EA infringed on it ... which no one did.
marceror wrote:And I guess it's totally acceptable to use for a movie than? Which would respond on search engine searches also, just to point it out. Or perhaps a Web Series that anyone with a camera could post online -- it wouldn't be a game after all. Or a book title? Etc., etc.?
Yes, as long as there is a reasonable lack of confusion about the two products. A "Wasteland" movie about a group of "Desert Rangers" would very likely be illegal under some kind of "distinctive likeness" clause. But you'll notice that inXile isn't issuing a C&D to the Wasteland clothing chain, or vice versa.
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