Trademark opposition seems to be the new "it" thing for major companies; more accurately, opposition that would be termed to be in bad faith is the new hot trend in the IP space. You need not look very far back in the archives of this blog to see a spate of similar stories, and while that may seem like repetition or redundancy more than anything else, it's worth pointing these instances out where possible in the hopes that public opinion, if nothing else, might put a halt to these sorts of cases...eventually.
The latest instance comes from Techdirt, and has the familiar contours: a big business paired with a small company, that big company using its power to try and block a trademark that doesn't actually infringe upon their own, and the resultant hue and cry. In this case the offending big business is Take-Two, the parent company of Rockstar Games, makers of such marquee video game titles as the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead series. The small business in this case is Rockstar Ax Throwing, out of Orlando, Florida, which offers — you guesses it — an ax throwing venue and ax throwing lessons for patrons.
Rockstar Ax Throwing filed to trademark the name and logo of the business, and Take-Two has sought to oppose those applications for reasons that seemingly defy any rational understanding of that law — par for the course in these types of cases. Take-Two's presented rationale in opposing the trademark applications is of course that the marks of the ax-throwing business will damage their own and create confusion among consumers, which is a specious claim. It need not be said, but it will be anyway: video games and ax throwing aren't the same things, are nowhere close to being the same things, and no reasonable person would come upon Rockstar Ax Throwing in Orlando and think that it's in anyway related to a video game development firm.
Why, then, do these companies continue to press their opposition in these cases, other than the simple fact that they can? Are there legal departments with billable hours targets to meet? Is there some genuine belief, fueled by their success, that their names and marks truly are synonymous with the words they try and claim ownership over? All the more likely is that they do it because the can, and because big tends to win out over small and thus these applicants will fold, leaving them the sole holder of any Rockstar name. Which is a shame, truly; it's hard enough for small businesses in the current climate, and it does no one any good for the bigger ones to make things harder.