Blizzard recently leaked an expansion for World of Warcraft called Shadowlands. Perhaps this is the only similarity to the Anarchy Online expansion, however there are already many overlapping qualities between the two games which make overtly stealing the name itself seem egregious. I’m curious whether Funcom could make a legal claim against Blizzard given the similarities between the products and business models.
There has been a video game named Shadowlands in 1992 already.
Maybe Blizzard is ripping that off.
Maybe Funcom did rip it off.
Maybe there are only so many cool sounding words in the english language.
I don’t think a company can trademark just a word, especially because WoW’s Shadowlands isn’t similar to AO’s
WoW is similar to AO because they are both subscription based mmorpg’s and thus they compete in the same market. They also share many gameplay similarities despite their many differences which make the games unique.
For instance, both mmorpg’s place an emphasis on grouping in parties to complete content. They both feature ways to express oneself socially with emotes and in game clothing. They both have instanced and non-instanced bosses, open world pvp, daily quests/missions, and npc reputation systems. There are undoubtedly many more similarities between the two games. I think all of this is fine, but in my opinion, the line should be drawn before WoW adopts the name itself. Imagine if another mainstream mmorpg like black desert or elder scrolls decided to name its latest expansion Legion or Cataclysm. Do you think Blizzard would allow that to happen without some sort of legal review?
As for the AtariST/DOS single player rpg Shadowlands from 1992, I don’t think that’s a comparable case at all. WoW and AO share far more similarities than the Atari/DOS Shadowlands does to any 3d mmorpg on the market today.
Copyrights cover works fixed in a tangible format, but because titles are typically short, they don’t fall under copyright protection. So no, you can’t copyright a title to a book , song or movie . But you can trademark a title , which may give you the protection you seek.
Blizzard can use the name - they just can’t copy Funcom’s proprietary code. But the point you’re making really isn’t about legality - rather should Blizzard not use the title out of courtesy - since both exist simultaneously within the mmorpg gaming realm/industry.
It’s really lame, if I was a lawyer, I’d argue that chevy can’t make an Explorer, or Focus. It’s brand confusion.
Blizzard can try to trademark the name and then use its deep pockets legal team to crush any daring to use its IP. I don’t think that will happen but it’s not without precedent.
Example-- “Battletech”. Battletech started life as a table-top miniatures game: “Battledroids”. (I own it ) Then some other movIe making company sent its legal Death Star around saying, we own “DROIDS”, BWA HA HA HA…so there!