Grand Theft Auto parent company Take-Two Interactive has hit Hazelight Studio’s game, It Takes Two, with a trademark claim. Records indicate that Hazelight has seemingly been forced to abandon ownership of the game’s name.
In a statement to Eurogamer, a Hazelight spokesperson told the outlet that the studio cannot comment on ongoing disputes, but hopes that the situation will be resolved. Take-Two has also been filing trademark claims for names that include words like “rockstar,” “social club,” “mafia,” and “civilization.” These words all have connections to products or services that Take-Two owns, such as Rockstar Games, Rockstar Social Club, and the Mafia franchise.
Not only is Hazelight affected, but other businesses unrelated to the games industry are as well. A clothing brand “Max Fayne” has been included in Take-Two’s trademark claims, presumably due to its closeness to the studio’s Max Payne franchise. An axe-throwing company in Florida called “Rockstar Axe Throwing” is trying to oppose Take-Two’s trademark claim too, while a music book brand called “Think Like a Rockstar” has abandoned its trademark following Take-Two’s claim.
You can see that some companies have chosen to simply abandon their trademarks instead of fighting a company as big as Take-Two, as it is trying to extend the claims. Virtual Legality‘s Richard Hoeg says, “You can start to see applicants peremptorily limit their own applications to try to avoid getting extended out. As well as plenty of folks with legitimate applications simply choosing not to fight by defaulting on the opposition.”
In terms of It Takes Two, Hoeg says that since it isn’t a company name and that the phrase is commonly used in goods and services everywhere, “I would suspect they simply wind up going untrademarked and relying on copyright,” Hoeg explains.
Take-Two has been on something of a legal kick lately, such as suing reverse-engineered GTA 3 and Vice City creators as well as GTA modders.
It Takes Two creator Josef Fares made a name for himself with an outspoken appearance at the 2018 Game Awards. Perhaps he might have a similar attitude next week during the Game Awards 2021, where It Takes Two is up for Best Game, among other nominations.
George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @yinyangfooey