Blizzard’s Overwatch Runs Into Trademark Trouble
Blizzard’s Overwatch has run afoul of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The government agency has suspended one of the publisher’s trademark applications related to its recently announced team shooter, Overwatch.
The conflict doesn’t come from another video game, though. The trademark identified by the USPTO is for an airsoft and paintball company called Innovis Labs and its product, also called Overwatch.
Innovis’ product is a mount that fits a mobile phone and an app that gives a mini-map style view of the battlefield. It also claims to let you control your team, dole out perks, and track the opposing team with GPS.
“Inspired by classic first-person shooter video games, Overwatch is the next generation of interactive gaming,” Innovis claims. Details on just how this works are slim (and the forums largely empty). However, the connection to digital entertainment is clear enough that the USPTO anticipates there might be confusion by allowing both to have trademark rights.
According to notification sent by the USPTO to Blizzard, final disposition of the publisher’s trademark rests with the results of Innovis’ application. Right now, Innovis has received a notice of allowance, meaning that the company must file statement of use (proving that the mark is in active use) or extension request by February 12, 2015.
Blizzard's title was announced at Blizzcon 2014 in November. The trademark was filed on April 1, 2014. Innovis' application was filed the previous September.
We’ve reached out to Blizzard to find out how the company plans to proceed. We’ll update should we receive a response.
I suspect that when we finally play Blizzard’s Overwatch, it will be under a different name. Given that Innovis has received go-ahead from the USPTO and seems to be moving forward with marketing the product, it will likely have control of the trademark.