Blizzard settles “Overwatch” trademark lawsuit
Blizzard has been fighting to register a trademark for its newest game Overwatch for a year and a half. The dispute with the United States Patent and Trademark Office turned into a lawsuit by Innovis Labs filed against Blizzard for trademark infringement. Fortunately for Blizzard, the lawsuit has finally settled and Blizzard will likely obtain rights to use the Overwatch name.
How Blizzard Lost Control of Overwatch
On April 1, 2014, Blizzard filed for a federal trademark registration for its new game, Overwatch. Unfortunately for Blizzard, an Arkansas company named Innovis Labs, Inc. had already applied to register Overwatch in September 2013. Innovis’s trademark application was for “a downloadable computer game” and “video game software” for its paintball related mobile app. As a result, the USPTO suspended Blizzard’s application.
On July 30, 2014, everything seemed rosy for Blizzard when Innovis signed this co-existence agreement that:
- prevented Innovis from opposing Blizzard’s Overwatch trademark application,
- put in writing Innovis’s agreement that Blizzard’s Overwatch game would not cause a likelihood of confusion with its own Overwatch mobile app, and
- required Innovis to amend its trademark application to remove any mention of video games.
It is unclear why Innovis agreed to sign this co-existence agreement.
Despite the contract, Innovis did not amend its trademark. Instead, almost a year later on May 28, 2015, it sued Blizzard for trademark infringement.
In the complaint, Innovis alleged it had already been using the Overwatch mark for over a year on its own “first person shooter game”. It further alleged that Blizzard’s use of the exact same word for its game infringed Innovis’s rights, misled potential customers, and made it impossible for Innovis to market its own game since Blizzard’s Overwatch had already saturated the market.
Innovis claimed that it terminated the co-existence agreement because they were unable “to prevent confusion from occurring in the marketplace.”
The lawsuit did not ask for money, but instead asked for a “permanent injunction” against Blizzard from using the Overwatch name.
Meanwhile, the USPTO sided with Innovis. In January 2015, it suspended Blizzard’s Overwatch trademark application. And on October 20, 2015, the USPTO issued Innovis a final certificate of registration.
The Parties Have Now Settled
According to a recent court filing, Blizzard and Innovis Labs settled the litigation and they are in the process of dismissing the lawsuit. On October 21, Innovis filed to surrender its registered Overwatch trademark. With that, the USPTO will likely lift its suspension of Blizzard’s application and move forward with registering its rights to the trademark. While we will probably never know the details of the confidential settlement, it is safe to assume that Blizzard paid Innovis a hefty sum for it to outright abandon its rights to Overwatch.
Things are certainly looking much better for Blizzard’s Overwatch, which just had a beta release on October 27.
To discuss registering a trademark for your game or enforcing your mark against competitors, contact The McArthur Law Firm.