They’ve been called Rocksmith for years – but Ubisoft want the title and they’re using “bully-boy tactics” to get it
An unsigned UK band are locked in what they call a “big business bully-boy” battle with a games corporation who are trying to take their name from them.
Ubisoft recently announced plans for a music videogame to be called Rocksmith. But a band from Southend, England, has been called Rocksmith for four years – and mainman Kris Ford registered the title four years before that.
He only discovered Ubisoft’s plans when they filed to register “Rocksmith” as a trademark in March this year. His attempts to defend his property have cost him hundreds of pounds already and could cost him thousands more.
But Ford believes the company are planning to stonewall him until an automatic deadline runs out, meaning they’ll win the name by default, and will then be able to order the band to stop using it.
Drummer Ford tells Rock News Desk: “I first registered the name ‘Rocksmith’ in 2003 and the band have been together since 2007. We were recently voted the UK’s number-one unsigned act and we have a social media following of about 50,000.
“Ubisoft have a legal trademark pending. It cost me €350 (£305, $495) to file an official opposition – and if lawyers have to get involved it’s likely to cost me thousands more.
“I’ve emailed Ubisoft direct about it. They ignored me until they were given official notification of my opposition on July 22. Then they responded on July 27 claiming I’d contacted them on July 13, when it had been weeks earlier.
“They asked for ‘proof of my allegations’ and I was able to supply evidence to show we’ve been using the Rocksmith name for years.”
Ubisoft are behind successful games including the Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia series, and made €103m (£89.7m, $146m) in sales during the first quarter of the current financial year.
Ford says he has to be realistic about the chances of keeping his name. “I spent ages thinking up a word which describes what the band is all about. We’ve worked hard to use it to help achieve the modest recognition we’ve gained so far.
“Losing the name would tear the heart out of our approach. So I don’t intend to stand here and let it be stolen – I hope we Ubisoft will at least discuss it with me.
“But for now it looks like they’re hoping to steamroller their trademark application through then tell us we’re using their name illegally.
“They’re using big-business bully-boy strategies against us, knowing we can’t afford access to the law like they can.
“They’re effectively trying to steal our name.”
The potential legal battle hasn’t stopped Ubisoft from pre-promoting the game – they already have a web page set up featuring glossy promo videos starring Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and sponsored by Rolling Stone.
Mary Beth Henson, director of corporate media relations for Ubisoft, told Rock News Desk: “I can confirm we are aware of the band’s opposition to our trademark application and that a representative of the band contacted us via email. We have replied to them, also via email. In general we do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings so I cannot disclose further details.”