On Feb. 1, gaming news site Polygon reported that a “Request for Express Abandonment” had been filed with the USPTO regarding the trademark for Watch Dogs. This registration, #85642398, was applied for and granted in 2012 covering game software. The request for abandonment was signed by none other than Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. While one intellectual property attorney quoted by Polygon speculated that the abandonment could simply be for the purpose of changing the use of the mark due to the evolution of the product, the truth was soon to come out.
Soon after, Polygon posted an update to the story, noting that a subsequent filing with the USPTO claimed that the original abandonment filing was fraudulent. An Ubisoft spokesperson confirmed that the company is working with the USPTO to reactivate the mark. Squelching fears that the abandonment meant that the game had been canceled, the spokesperson assured Polygon and its readers that this was not the case. The game is scheduled for release this year, after a delay from its originally-scheduled release in 2013.
A similar situation occurred in 2012, when the trademark for The Last Guardian was abandoned (most likely due to an inadvertent failure to file a renewal). Though not fraudulent, the mark was re-filed just days later, presumably when the oversight was noticed.
For more information on trademark and other intellectual property in the games industry, stay tuned to my blog. If you are thinking about developing a game or registering your trademark, contact your local game attorney for help.