Futuremark responds to PWNAGE controversy

Written by Tim Smalley

March 6, 2008 // 12:16 p.m.

Tags: #application #controversy #pwnage #trademark

It’s fair to say that Futuremark’s move to trademark the word ‘PWNAGE’ has caused a bit of a stir in the enthusiast community.

On Tuesday, Jukka Mäkinen, an executive producer at Futuremark Games Studios, issued a statement explaining the situation, which said; “ Our purpose in filing for trademark on the name "Pwnage" is not to charge money or stop people from using the expression. That's not what a trademark is for. Instead, we want to protect ourselves from squatters (or what I call campers) - people looking to trademark the name on false pretences, just to make a claim against Futuremark Games Studio for its use.

When I first read the statement, it seemed fine. However, when I read a little deeper into it, the statement created more questions than it answered as it essentially turns back on itself – something along the lines of the following: we’re not going to charge people to use it, we’re protecting ourselves from being charged for using the word, and we’ll charge anyone that seeks to make money from the word.

I decided to hold off on my analysis and seek further clarification, so I dropped Futuremark CEO Tero Sarkkinen an email asking him to clarify the use of the word in other games—either in the game’s name, or in sound effects, dialogue and so on.

All we’re doing is applying to protect a name for a product we’re making. We don’t care if someone uses the word Pwnage, as long as they’re not marketing a product in the same category as our product with the same name, thus trying to fool the consumer,” Sarkkinen explained. “I think there’s been a lot of misunderstanding about what a trademark is. We’re not trying to take anything from the community, rather, we’re investing good amounts of our money to bring some new cool stuff to gamers.

I also asked him whether he thought there was a good chance that the trademark application would be accepted. “I honestly can’t say. If someone already out there has applied for it for the categories we are planning, then obviously we can’t use it… and that’s all there is to it.

What we can draw from this is that Futuremark Games Studio is making a game that’s either called or related to the word ‘Pwnage’. All that it’s trying to do is to protect the name so that nobody else can make a product—in the same category—with the same name. With the gaming-focused PurePwnage series of Internet-distributed mockumentaries having been around since 2004, it’ll be interesting if that’s a hurdle in Futuremark’s application.

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