If there is one thing that we have learned in this space, it is that brands don't take as kindly to puns, allusions or any other type of attempted tribute as those offering it might think. Many of us enjoy a clever play on words, but when there is a brand name and potential profits involved, entities tend to have less of a sense of humor than those of us without a stake in the matter.
The latest case of wordplay gone awry involves legendary British metal band Iron Maiden and a small game company with perhaps the best intentions but a poor sense of judgment. The band is suing 3D Realms over its latest creation, Ion Maiden. (Get it? You get it.) For fans of old-school games (or just old gamers), 3D Realms is the former owner of the intellectual property for Duke Nukem, and Ion Maiden is built upon the same engine as Duke Nukem 3D. And while that tidbit might seem like just a nod to those who spent hours sitting in front of a computer in the early- to mid-90s, it does bear some relevance, as 3D Realms was also involved in a lawsuit in 2014 with game studio Gearbox over the ownership of the Duke Nukem IP, after 3D Realms announced the launch of a new Duke Nukem game despite not having the rights to do so.
In the case of Ion Maiden, the band of the nearly identical name is suing for trademark infringement over both the game's name and its logo, which bears a certain resemblance to the band's iconic stylized logo, which is trademarked to the band. And the group is not contenting itself with just the discontinuation of the use of the name and mark, as Polygon reports the group is asking for $2 million in statutory damages, as well as compensatory damages and ruling and injunctions that would prevent the further use or distribution of anything featuring the name and logo; in short, a ruling in favor of Iron Maiden would likely mean the end of the game as it exists in its current iteration, short of some settlement that would offer the band an acceptable amount of the game's profits.
So 3D Realms finds itself in another court case, and what started out as a clever play on an iconic name might now serve to sink that very same project. It's perhaps a lesson that it's better to be original then clever, and that homage or winking references are likely best left to professionals that know how to steer clear of legal jeopardy.