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Bethesda Stops Indie Studio From Using “Prey” in “Prey for the Gods” Name [UPDATE]

[UPDATE]

Bethesda has commented on the trademark debacle, via a statement made to IGN:

“We really didn’t have much of a choice. If we don’t oppose the mark, we risk losing our Prey trademark and that isn’t acceptable. Unfortunately, that’s how trademark law works.”

The Bethesda representative added that multiple attempts were made to contact No Matter Studios as early as 2015, even before the game hit Kickstarter. They also noted they reached out to them “multiple times” since their funding.

[ORIGINAL STORY]

We first reported on the promising Kickstarter-funded indie game Prey for the Gods back in 2015, and now that the game is firming up a release window, they’ve run into a bit of legal trouble.

The game’s name had to be changed, because Bethesda is readying to launch their new Prey reboot and they’re actively protecting that intellectual property. Now, the game will be known as Praey for the Gods, a small but necessary change to avoid further legal action.

To be clear, the three-man indie team can keep the game’s logo but have to officially list the title now as Praey for the Gods, as Bethesda felt both Prey for the Gods and Præy for the Gods were too similar to their Prey trademark.

Bethesda and parent company Zenimax have a history of going after other properties that use word(s) from their own IPs, with one of the most notable including Mojang’s Scrolls game, which Bethesda claimed was too similar to The Elder Scrolls. Both companies later settled this in court, allowing Mojang to keep using the name, however.

Here’s the full blurb on why they had to change their name:


Wha!? Why are you now PRAEY for the Gods!?

Oh yea that…so we didn’t want to do this but we had to change our game name from Prey for the Gods to Praey for the Gods. Thankfully we get to keep the logo but we will spell it “Praey for the Gods”. Honestly, we could make this entire newsletter about our thoughts on this. Trademark law is what we were dealing with and we aren’t under any NDA so we can state the opposition in this situation, Bethesda/Zenimax.

We could’ve fought this and we did think about it for quite a while. Something like a trademark opposition can be long and depending on how far someone wants to fight it can be very expensive. We didn’t want to spend our precious Kickstarter funds, nor did we want to have to ask for additional funds to fight this in court. Using backer money towards something that doesn’t go towards the development or backer rewards felt horrible to us. Even if we did win we’d have to spend a solid chunk of our funds and in our opinion it wasn’t worth it.

The truth is we initially thought about naming the game Præy for the Gods prior to our initial trailer. The logo has both the woman praying against the duality of prey, and thankfully we get to continue to use that. We figured people would have a hard time trying to type in the æ symbol in search engines etc. This was back in 2015 when we posted a trailer on Facebook and Twitter with had no idea if 100 or even 1000 people would watch the trailer. We were applying for both Prey for the Gods, and Præy for the Gods trademarks shortly after as we realized the extent of what we were making. Unfortunately, Zenimax chose to oppose our mark, as they felt both were too similar to their mark “Prey” which they purchased from Id Software, in 2009. While we disagree with their opposition we were able to come to an agreement.

It was something that kept me up many nights, and no doubt shifted our focus from our game frequently. Worrying about the outcome if we went to trial, if we’d lose our fans or walk away from the mark and still potentially get sued for millions on trademark infringement. This is really something no starting company should have to deal with let alone a tiny team of 3. So the fact that we came out the other end intact still developing the game was a win. One that will no doubt shape our company moving forward.


Praey for the Gods is set for a PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One release sometime in December of this year.

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Brandon Orselli

About

Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive.



89 comments
  1. Mr0303
    Mr0303
    May 3, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    It shouldn’t be legal to trademark such generic words like “prey” or “cyberpunk”. If the game is in the same genre then maybe they’d have a point of contention, but how the hell is the rip-off to Shadow of the Colossus going to affect the sales or name recognition of Prey?

  2. Eldhin Hellknight
    Eldhin Hellknight
    May 3, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Similar…. How the fuck are those names similar? If the indie game where called “Prey” that would be understandable but its “Prey for the gods” which is different

  3. acidthorn
    acidthorn
    May 3, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Hah, remember when they did this with Mojang’s “Scrolls”? Bethesda really likes those generic word trademarks, huh.

  4. InfectedAI
    InfectedAI
    May 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Another reason not to buy Bethesda games. Their legal department are overreaching bullies.

  5. Darkuira !
    Darkuira !
    May 3, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Now this is just stupid taking legal action because of a small word, Bethesda has gone low or just desperate.

  6. s_fnx
    s_fnx
    May 3, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    I think we can now officially say that Bethesda is the new EA.

  7. Malcolm_Ecks
    Malcolm_Ecks
    May 3, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    They’ve been that way since Fallout 3. They just had the grace of mods on the PC versions of their games.

  8. CrusaderEsper
    CrusaderEsper
    May 3, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Bethesda just bullying another company because they can. Remember they tried this with Notch over Scrolls but he had the money to fight it and won. The indie studio probably barely has two dimes to rub together and just had to fold to avoid going under.

  9. Bashtarle
    Bashtarle
    May 3, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Hey Trademark office….. maybe stop awarding trademarks to things that use common singular words?

  10. SuuLoliBoob
    SuuLoliBoob
    May 3, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Can’t wait for asshole companies to start trademarking words like “you” and “The”.

  11. GameZard
    GameZard
    May 3, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    See this is one in of the main reasons why I don’t support Bethesda anymore.

  12. SevTheBear
    SevTheBear
    May 3, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    And this why Bethesda is on my top 10 asshole list in the gaming industry

  13. Rumble Red
    Rumble Red
    May 3, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    This whole situation is bullshit, but I wish they’d changed it to something totally different. “Praey” is pretty awful.

  14. Madbrainbox
    Madbrainbox
    May 3, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    I wish they changed it to “Prey”.

  15. 2501
    2501
    May 3, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    That’s some stupid shit right there.

  16. vonSanneck
    vonSanneck
    May 3, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    It’s funnier still due to their fallout many years ago over a football sim deal.

  17. RichardGristle
    RichardGristle
    May 3, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Pretty jewy.

  18. DrearierSpider
    DrearierSpider
    May 3, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Jewthesda Shekelworks

  19. Jigsy
    Jigsy
    May 3, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Reminds me of Sky PLC in the UK trying to stop No Man’s Sky from using the word Sky.

  20. DrearierSpider
    DrearierSpider
    May 3, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Zenimax Litigator Death Squads at it again. Buncha cunts.

  21. Denshi
    Denshi
    May 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    It’s another episode of Copyright/Trademark Law is Shit.

  22. No_Good_Names_Ever
    No_Good_Names_Ever
    May 3, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Not much longer til video game names end up like Rockband or Jap series names.

  23. Mike Moeller
    Mike Moeller
    May 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    I wonder if this is going to be another broken title that modders will have to fix

  24. Sir Caccola
    Sir Caccola
    May 3, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    With jews you always lose!

  25. Uncle Ocelot
    Uncle Ocelot
    May 3, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    This shit is just ridiculous.

  26. SuuLoliBoob
    SuuLoliBoob
    May 3, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    >Jap series names

    I wouldn’t mind having games having titles like “In hopes of surviving this crazy world, i have decided to make a harem of lolis” just for the shits and giggles of it all.

  27. Andrew Krasy
    Andrew Krasy
    May 3, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    They’re not called Zionmax for nothing.

  28. sAy_YaS
    sAy_YaS
    May 3, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    You know whats more similar? The Prey game from 2006!!!!! So much so that its not on Steam anymore, (thanks Bethesda!). And instead of a sequel with Tommy they give us more space marine stuff.

  29. Tubsiwub
    Tubsiwub
    May 3, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    You’re making a Video what? “Game”? That’s trademarked. You cannot use that term. Please change your product type to a “Video Junk” and put it automatically into the bargain bin. Comply or be sued.

  30. luggage lad
    luggage lad
    May 3, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Underhanded legal maneuvers are just a core pillar in how Bethesda conducts business.

    Notably they’ve strong-armed the Fallout IP to their ownership, sued Mojang for the name “Scrolls”, are now suing Facebook and you can bet the soon to be released game called “Prey” has everything to do with legal posturing against the 2006 game.

    Bethesda has a very, very active legal team.

  31. Galvanized Dreamer
    Galvanized Dreamer
    May 3, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Step 1: Boycott
    Step 2: Win.

    Also: Isn’t this a Zenimax issue, not a Bethesda issue? Or can they just be considered the same entity?

  32. kunuri
    kunuri
    May 3, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    A cartel of imposters and frauds who have made nothing but 0/10 failures since their inception are starting to realize the only way they can compete with actual game developers is by cheating. Todd Howard deserves the death sentence for everything he’s done, maybe when he’s dead, cons like him will think twice.

  33. Eli Wintercross
    Eli Wintercross
    May 3, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Bethesda the publisher is not the same people as Bethesda Studios, Todd has no say in these things.

    Grill him for his dumb choices in Fallout 4 and so on.

  34. Eli Wintercross
    Eli Wintercross
    May 3, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    There are two ‘bethesdas’ the publisher, and Bethesda Studios which makes TES and Fallout.
    The studio has no say on these copyright bullying tactics, they just make the games.

    I’d say it’s bad culture filtering down from Zenimax

  35. RomanHill
    RomanHill
    May 3, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Those two games are even more different than the previous. Zenimax just wants to take control over indie devs. Saying things like: “You see, if you join our company, then you can also name your game specific names.”

    Which is of courser total normal. If you think of names like “Doom”. But by taking names, you also take games. Because games simply need a name. You see, what this is all about? AAA wants to take over the indie devs. Especially the successful ones. Seems the indie game movement did a good job in showing the middle finger, to the big companies. And now some of them feel salty.

  36. Valchior
    Valchior
    May 3, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    oh man, those two studios are gonna have a fallout

  37. Biteme
    Biteme
    May 3, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    that’s like Blizzard trademarking “craft” then proceeding to fuck over minecraft… or minecraft going to fuck over warcraft, starcraft and so on…
    Fuck off Bethesda.

  38. Lea Pastillaroja
    Lea Pastillaroja
    May 3, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    i am really going to enjoy watching this indy game mop the flor with with whatever Bitchesda’s trying to crap

  39. Jumanji Joe
    Jumanji Joe
    May 3, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Another example of why the copyright system needs a huge rework.

  40. Sean Sharpe
    Sean Sharpe
    May 3, 2017 at 10:29 pm

    I’m not sure which is worse… Bethesda or that awful name for a game.

  41. Mighty No. 56008
    Mighty No. 56008
    May 3, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Is this the start of something stupid, like King trying to trademark the words “Candy” and “Saga” or Fine Bros trying to trademark “React”?

  42. A Hyena
    A Hyena
    May 3, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    How bout everyones favorite mobile app baron King Inc going after games using any one of the words Candy, Crush, and/or Saga in their title

  43. Random Dude
    Random Dude
    May 3, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Trademark Office: “But muh profits.”

  44. Jack
    Jack
    May 3, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    it’s that Saga shit all over again

  45. Jack
    Jack
    May 3, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    Thee™ Legend™ of™ Zelda™

  46. Nalferd
    Nalferd
    May 3, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Lol light novel title games ftw. “Our previous title had legal trouble so this will do for now.” – The Game

  47. Madbrainbox
    Madbrainbox
    May 4, 2017 at 2:16 am

    Or Bethesda trying to trademark “Scrolls” or CDProjekt trying to trademark “Cyberpunk”.Looks like a shit thing to do no matter how you look at it.

  48. Madbrainbox
    Madbrainbox
    May 4, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Someone who can fight them in court needs to make a game called “Fallout of the Dishonored Prey Scrolls of DOOM” or something.

  49. Madbrainbox
    Madbrainbox
    May 4, 2017 at 2:27 am

    Prey or Prey for the Gods?

  50. Gaijin-
    Gaijin-
    May 4, 2017 at 2:43 am

    I can’t remember which one, but I think it was in a Warren Ellis graphic novel that the main character said: “Law is not Justice “.

  51. catazxy
    catazxy
    May 4, 2017 at 3:13 am

    “It just works”,guys!

  52. Feniks
    Feniks
    May 4, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Just wait until the Klingons hear this…

  53. Shattno
    Shattno
    May 4, 2017 at 5:01 am

    You could add apple to that list of generic words. Copyright law is bullshit.

  54. João Carlos Honório Pedro
    João Carlos Honório Pedro
    May 4, 2017 at 6:01 am

    “Scrolls of DOOM: Fallout of the Dishonored Prey” would actually be a rather good title for a game, though. Very early 90’s

  55. Madbrainbox
    Madbrainbox
    May 4, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Oh yeah.That sounds quite good actually.

  56. Phasmatis75
    Phasmatis75
    May 4, 2017 at 7:47 am

    To be fair, as much as Bethesda is a bunch of douchbags that would have given Mojang the capacity to do this to them.

  57. disqus_M2OtKNOg3E
    disqus_M2OtKNOg3E
    May 4, 2017 at 10:27 am

    it would be like i just got the alphabet copyrighted good luck

  58. Anus
    Anus
    May 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Huh. My interest in their new game suddenly disappeared.
    I wonder why.

  59. Nope Naw
    Nope Naw
    May 4, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Copyright law and trademark law are not the same thing. I don’t disagree that copyright law is becoming more and more counter-productive, but trademark law it is not.

  60. Nope Naw
    Nope Naw
    May 4, 2017 at 11:42 am

    How is a >trademark< issue an example of why the copyright system needs reworking? It's not the same thing.

  61. Nope Naw
    Nope Naw
    May 4, 2017 at 11:44 am

    He didn’t win. He had to license the word “Scrolls” for the game.

  62. Shattno
    Shattno
    May 4, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Yeah ok, but I still think it’s bullshit that companies can pick an arbitrary word in the English language and say “ok this is ours now” and then sue others when they use it.

  63. MosesZD
    MosesZD
    May 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    It’s not bullshit. It’s to prevent knock-offs that hurt both the provider of goods and services and their customers. Branding provides certainty. If there’s one Coca-Cola on the market you know you got the real Coca-Cola. But if every Tom, Dick and Harry with some money could steal the trademarked name and sell their own Coca-Cola, you wouldn’t be able to (for good or bad) rely on the name as indicator of quality.

    In short, your short-sighted thinking and reacting ‘for the poor little guy’ totally misses the mark. We have trademarks for a reason.

    The real issue is that trademark law requires an aggressive offense against possible infringement which, basically, forces Bethesda to fight anything close to infringing or take the risk of losing the millions of dollars they paid for the trademark the millions more they have spent developing the trademark.

  64. Mighty No. 56008
    Mighty No. 56008
    May 4, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Yeah I know stuff like this isn’t new (sadly). Was just wondering out loud if this was a new chapter in the book of stupid trademarking.

  65. Nope Naw
    Nope Naw
    May 4, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Trademark law actually doesn’t force Bethesda to do any of that. What Bethesda is doing is exploiting a liberal reading of the trademark laws, as well as relying on their sheer company size. In the spirit of the law, they have nothing to fear from any of the people/studios they have hit with trademark lawsuits, because it would be difficult, if not impossible, to make the argument that you would confuse “Scrolls” with “Elder Scrolls” and “Prey” with “Prey of the Gods”.

    It is actually REALLY difficult to lose a trademark you’ve applied for and been approved.

    You are sort of mischaracterizing what he’s calling bullshit. Yes, the system is there for a reason, but he’s not calling the system itself bullshit, but the practice of tasking very generic, one word trademarks, and heavily enforcing them. That IS bullshit, because it’s an exploit in the system. It’s using the system as a weapon for fraud when it was intended as a defense against fraud.

  66. Shattno
    Shattno
    May 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    No. See coca-cola is a made up word. They came up with it so of course they have the rights to it. I completely understand branding, and I’m not doing a “poor little guy thing”, I’m saying it shouldn’t be possible to trademark generic words like apple, instead companies need to come up with original brand names.

  67. Tony Kravitz
    Tony Kravitz
    May 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    It’s not okay to use Prey for the Gods, but it’s okay to use Nuka-Cola, right Bethesda? Hypocrites. I hope Coca-Cola sue you and you get yourself in that very same situation.

  68. MusouTensei
    MusouTensei
    May 4, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Why is it still legal to trademark single common words like this? Only thing such a trademark should prevent is that someone else makes a game called Prey, not the usage of the word in game titles in general.

  69. LibidinBoy
    LibidinBoy
    May 4, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Ok, we have the title, please elaborate a bit more.
    Would it be like a megaman game, but each power is executed by a different loli, like a KoF striker? A visual novel?
    We are sitting in a gold mine here…

  70. LibidinBoy
    LibidinBoy
    May 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    hey hey, watch it punk.
    Its prAEy for the gods, we dont want silly confusions

  71. darkgamer001
    darkgamer001
    May 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    There’s a huge difference between made-up words and words that you can find in a dictionary, especially ones that have existed for hundreds of years.
    What’s next, Betheseda suing a nature documentary?

  72. Madbrainbox
    Madbrainbox
    May 4, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Saw the update.They can choke on a big one for all I care.

  73. braneman
    braneman
    May 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Companies will defend copyrights exactly the same way they’ll defend trademarks, they may not legally be the same thing but people treat them like they are exactly the same thing.

  74. Madbrainbox
    Madbrainbox
    May 4, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Yeah.Bethesda might come after me next.

  75. JuicyHopFrog
    JuicyHopFrog
    May 4, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    On the plus side, No Matter Studios are getting some nice sympathetic exposure.

  76. Scruffy, the Janitor
    Scruffy, the Janitor
    May 4, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    This is horseshit. They shouldnt be allowed to trademark a work like that.

  77. Chris Mendivil
    Chris Mendivil
    May 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    There really needs to be a hard rule against trying to copyright commonly used words. Alternatively, it would be hillarious if Israel gave Bethesda a hard time since Israel is home to the Biblical Pool of Bethesda.

  78. Nope Naw
    Nope Naw
    May 4, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I would love to see the Coca-Cola Company absolutely ream Bethesda in the ear with a lawsuit about that.

  79. Silent Hunter
    Silent Hunter
    May 4, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    That’s not what’s happening here. What’s happening here is now no one can ever again use the standard English single word ‘prey’ in their game title. Bethesda apparently owns the word ‘prey’. That is not how trademark law should work, and I’d rather it didn’t exist than to have it work this way.

  80. EH7
    EH7
    May 4, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Everybody praises Bethesda nowdays, but in all honesty they aren’t the “saints” they let out to be.

  81. EH7
    EH7
    May 4, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    The old Nuka Cola had pretty much a similar shape to the once was the 90’s glass bottle coca cola.

  82. Padpaw22 .
    Padpaw22 .
    May 5, 2017 at 12:30 am

    They know they won’t win a lawsuit so just threaten people that cannot fight back into settling. if their target puts up a fight bethesda always stops trying to sue. Scum of the earth them.

  83. Rob Simple
    Rob Simple
    May 5, 2017 at 1:26 am

    If that’s the case, then maybe Activision should sue them over Call of Cthulhu.

  84. CrusaderEsper
    CrusaderEsper
    May 5, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I am pretty sure the resolution was just contingent on him not using the term in any way that might confuse the market or having the word “Elder” anywhere near the title.

  85. Fenrir007
    Fenrir007
    May 6, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Meanwhile, people make doujins and fangames of established IPs in Japan, sell them for a profit and no one gives a shit. Clearly the superior culture.

  86. UnpluggedBeta
    UnpluggedBeta
    May 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I see bethesda is giving a solid effort in attempting to nab “most hated vidya company” from EA!