Update: Ubisoft Alleges Fraud, Watch Dogs Trademark Restored

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Update: Ubisoft Alleges Fraud, Watch Dogs Trademark Restored

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Ubisoft is petitioning the United States Patent and Trademark Office to prevent trademark abandonment.

Someone clearly has it in for Ubisoft's Watch Dogs. A notice of express abandonment of the Watch Dogs trademark was filed on February 1st, signed by Yves Guillemot himself. Yet Guillemot denies ever filing that paperwork, and alleges fraud. Ubisoft is petitioning the United States Patent and Trademark Office hoping to prevent abandonment.

"The Request for Express Abandonment purports to be signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft Entertainment, Yves Guillemot," says Ubisoft in its petition. "Mr. Guillemot, however, did not sign the Request for Express Abandonment, nor did Ubisoft Entertainment file the Request for Express Abandonment. The Request for Express Abandonment is fraudulent and was not filed by Ubisoft Entertainment or its representative."

At time of writing it's not known who filed the abandonment paperwork, or allegedly forged Guillemot's signature. A document dated February 3rd suggests that the trademark has been abandoned, but if that is what happened it doesn't seem to be Ubisoft's doing.

Ubisoft has also filed paperwork replacing its attorney. The February 3rd document lists Marc Muraccini as its representative, Ubisoft's Senior Trademark Counsel and the man in charge of its trademark portfolio. However Ubisoft has named Joel D. Leviton of Fish & Richardson P.C., Minneapolis, as its attorney, replacing Muraccini.

Source: US Patent and Trademark Office

Update: Ubisoft confirms that the Watch Dogs trademark has been abandoned.

"We are working directly with the USPTO on reinstating the trademark for Watch Dogs and it will be active again in the coming days," says a Ubisoft representative. "The matter has no impact on Watch Dogs' development."

Update: Looks as if the only thing standing between Ubisoft and its trademark is Guillemot's signature.

The response from the USPTO reads:

"The petition is incomplete because a separate affidavit/declaration signed by Mr. Guillemot stating he did not sign the express abandonment is required because the express abandonment filed on February 3, 2014 names him as signatory. Note that you may sign the declaration supporting the petition itself as the attorney of record, but a separate affidavit/declaration from Mr. Guillemot is required in support of the facts surrounding the express abandonment, verified by an affidavit or declaration under Trademark Rule 2.20. See 37 C.F.R. 2.20, 2.146(c); TMEP 1705.03."

Ubisoft has 30 days to sort it out, says USPT.

Update: Ubisoft has filed all the necessary paperwork and regained its patent.

Says the USPTO:

"Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. 2.68, an applicant may expressly abandon an application. Such abandonment may be withdrawn, but only on petition, and only upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances. In re Glaxo Group Limited, 33 USPQ2d 1535 (Comm'r Pats. 1993); TMEP 718.01.

Here, the circumstances are extraordinary. An unknown party who lacked authority executed the purported abandonment of the application. Although the request appears to have been sent by petitioner, petitioner declared that it did not submit the request and has every reason to believe that this filing was fraudulent. The Director finds the application should not have been abandoned. Pursuant to supervisory authority provided by 37 C.F.R. 2.146(a)(3), the Director permits the reinstatement of the application."

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Somehow it fits with the theme of the game so I guess it ends up being a bit of good publicity since it gives the idea that we also live in a big scary world where information isnt safe.

Well, shit. Looks like the road is only getting rockier for that game, which is pretty disappointing. I hope this gets sorted out, because this is one game I really want to play.

josemlopes:
Somehow it fits with the theme of the game so I guess it ends up being a bit of good publicity since it gives the idea that we also live in a big scary world where information isnt safe.

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Well actually, I was thinking more along the lines of this being some kind of weird promotion stunt, cuz you know, Ubisoft.

I suspect at worse this would only delay the game, I doubt they would scrap a complete game they have invested millions in over a name problem.

If they did loose the game, ether they would just re-trademark it or change it, changing it may fuck with the PR but all it effects in the game itself would be a title screen and possibly the opening/ending cut-scenes.

Okay, so it's thematically relevant, but why? Why try and screw over a game publisher if you don't stand to gain anything from it? This feels like a poorly thought-out Snidely Whiplash plot, honestly.

"Nya, hah, hah! Ubisoft has lost the trademark for their upcoming blockbuster! They must now grovel at my feet to obtain the rights to release it!" *insert Skeletor laughter*

Sorry, Villain McDouchebag, but this doesn't change shit.

This is an interesting prank. But holy heck would it result in jail time if the individual was caught. Not worth it at all.

Lightknight:
This is an interesting prank. But holy heck would it result in jail time if the individual was caught. Not worth it at all.

Whoever that brave soul is, I thank them for the laugh.
Then again, I have no love for Ubisoft so that's just my spite talking.

Now i'm not really on the up and up of trademark laws, but is it possible someone thought; "Hey i know, i'll file fake papers of ubisoft abandoning Watch_Dogs and then claim the trademark. Then i will have them pay me for them to use it"

Well at least that was my first thought. My second one was, that they fired that Muraccini guy and as a last fuck you he filed that paperwork.

Eh, won't matter for Ubi either way.

Longstreet:
Now i'm not really on the up and up of trademark laws, but is it possible someone thought; "Hey i know, i'll file fake papers of ubisoft abandoning Watch_Dogs and then claim the trademark. Then i will have them pay me for them to use it"

I would be really surprised if someone pulled that off. There's no way that person could survive the inevitable court case.

OT: This is actually sort of funny, and I don't mean that in my usual Ubisoft hating attitude. It just fits so well with the game's themes.

Sounds like the work of some enterprising troll who wanted to make a point about the game being delayed.

How long till Anonymous takes credit for this?

BAHAHAHA!!! A game about a hacker who manipulates the social system... Had someone manipulate the trademark system and mess with their name.... Oh irony you truly are tasty!

IamLEAM1983:
Okay, so it's thematically relevant, but why? Why try and screw over a game publisher if you don't stand to gain anything from it? This feels like a poorly thought-out Snidely Whiplash plot, honestly.

"Nya, hah, hah! Ubisoft has lost the trademark for their upcoming blockbuster! They must now grovel at my feet to obtain the rights to release it!" *insert Skeletor laughter*

Sorry, Villain McDouchebag, but this doesn't change shit.

Honestly, it sounds more like a promotional gimmick now that the release is starting to draw near.

It seems like the kind of thing that Ubisoft would do at least.

Yeah, add me to the "suspicious of publicity stunt" list here. God knows we've seen dumber ideas out of the games industry over the years.

*shrug* Publicity stunt or not, I still find it rather amusing for obvious reasons.

JarinArenos:
Yeah, add me to the "suspicious of publicity stunt" list here. God knows we've seen dumber ideas out of the games industry over the years.

I highly doubt that since this would be considered fraud on the office and not only would they loose their trademark, someone would also be looking at jail time and the attorney involved would be disbarred.

I can't shake the idea that this was caused by Yves Guillemot wanting to get out the office late one Friday afternoon and just decided to sign all the paperwork on his desk now without reading it and sort it out after the weekend. Probably because if it was me, that would most likely thing that would happen.

JarinArenos:
Yeah, add me to the "suspicious of publicity stunt" list here. God knows we've seen dumber ideas out of the games industry over the years.

Yeah, the risk here doesn't seem worth it for a minor publicity stunt.

37 CFR 1.68 permits a declaration to be used instead of an affidavit. The declaration must include an acknowledgment by the declarant that willful false statements and the like are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both (18 U.S.C. 1001) and may jeopardize the validity of the application or any patent issuing thereon.

So you risk losing the trademark straight out for this along with fines and jail time. How much jail time you ask?

shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years.

So up to five years in prison, a fine and loss of the trademark. Not worth it for PR in my book.

Sources:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1001
http://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/calcrim/2600/2641.html

If the godforsaken timeframe for this game is lengthened by this crap, I will be duly pissed...

"The development won't be affected" -Ubisoft

"I hope the development isn't affected!" -Readers

Wow thats one large troll there. so trademark is officially abandoned now, that means someone can actually legally come up and snatch it up while they are sorting it out. Wow would that be a hell breaking loose if somone did.
Though the instant replacement of a person handling trademarks makes it look like this could be someone trying to sabotage the thing.

I dont see how this would affect developement at all though, as the legal team is not developing the game anyway and it would be affected in any way only if they were forced to change the name, which is not going to happen.

Call it underhanded, but I could see someone grabbing the Watch Dogs trademark and holding it hostage unless Ubisoft was to change some of their opinions, or even force reorganization of their company. No doubt in my mind that there are a few enemies they've made who would want to do such a thing...

Karloff:
Update: Ubisoft has filed all the necessary paperwork and regained its patent.

Trademark, not patent.

If this was a PR stunt, it was a really bad idea, mainly because filing fraudulent paperwork with a US government agency is a criminal offense.

Well that was a weird series of events.

JarinArenos:
Yeah, add me to the "suspicious of publicity stunt" list here. God knows we've seen dumber ideas out of the games industry over the years.

I had the same thought, it seems more like something that works as publicity for a game about hacking, than something anyone would benefit from. It lacks any kind of substance to be a serious "trolling" attempt and if that was the case most of the groups that make such public displays want people to know that they did it.

Speaking for myself I'm not a big fan of bureaucracy, but if I was in the US Patent Office I wouldn't have just given them the rights back, I would have done an investigation and made Ubisoft prove that the signature was forged in order to make them sweat simply to discourage people from doing garbage like this and wasting time for the sake of easy marketing. Inevitably they would still get it back of course.

Actually before I even thought of it being a publicity stunt it occurred to me that if you could forge this guy's signature well enough and produce genuine-seeming enough documents to influence the patent office, you'd do far better to say have Yves Guilliemot who apparently has his fingers on a lot of Ubisoft's purse strings, sign over a substantial development budget to your now-non-existent "Ubisoft Caiman Islands" branch to develop a game about high stakes white collar thievery. Then by the chance it was noticed "hey we don't have a studio in the Caimans!" it doesn't matter because you know... you've got a ton of money in your Caiman Islands account where it was doubtlessly transferred away. :)

And in the end, it turned out to be a hell of a publicity stunt, even if it wasn't one they intended to pull.

I'm very impressed. Couldn't have happened to a more appropriate game.

Therumancer:

JarinArenos:
Yeah, add me to the "suspicious of publicity stunt" list here. God knows we've seen dumber ideas out of the games industry over the years.

I had the same thought, it seems more like something that works as publicity for a game about hacking, than something anyone would benefit from. It lacks any kind of substance to be a serious "trolling" attempt and if that was the case most of the groups that make such public displays want people to know that they did it.

I've had a couple people point out now just how very stupid this would be, in response to my comment. Apparently they'd be risking large fines, jail time, potential disbarrment if the lawyer was in on it... and losing the trademark ANYWAY. So yeah... guess it's probably just someone being a dick.

Back in my day we would have to troll companies with actual paperwork. None of that new fangled interwebs.

Also walked to school both ways uphill in a blizzard etc.

So the trademark office accepts a sketchy document abandoning a trademark on a well publicized project then turns around and places the burden of proof on the complainant to prove that the filing was fraudulent. Typical.

Johnson McGee:
So the trademark office accepts a sketchy document abandoning a trademark on a well publicized project then turns around and places the burden of proof on the complainant to prove that the filing was fraudulent. Typical.

They didn't receive a sketchy document. They received a properly filled out official form that appeared to be signed by all of the right people. When Ubisoft first contested this their legal team failed to supply the correct documentation to prove this point and as such this was rejected with this reason provided. They then resubmitted the correct forms at which point the abandonment was officially withdrawn. This entire process has taken under three days and that's including the time it took Ubisoft to change their legal team around.

JarinArenos:

Therumancer:

JarinArenos:
Yeah, add me to the "suspicious of publicity stunt" list here. God knows we've seen dumber ideas out of the games industry over the years.

I had the same thought, it seems more like something that works as publicity for a game about hacking, than something anyone would benefit from. It lacks any kind of substance to be a serious "trolling" attempt and if that was the case most of the groups that make such public displays want people to know that they did it.

I've had a couple people point out now just how very stupid this would be, in response to my comment. Apparently they'd be risking large fines, jail time, potential disbarrment if the lawyer was in on it... and losing the trademark ANYWAY. So yeah... guess it's probably just someone being a dick.

Well, the thing is that there are going to be serious penalties to anyone involving in forging a signature under these circumstances, assuming whomever did it got caught. This is what brings the motive into question. Someone "just being a jerk" might cost Ubisoft some money and inconvenience, while facing years in jail and potentially huge fines if caught due to the amount of damages they could inflict through this act. On the other hand Ubisoft doing it themselves at least has the publicity, as the attention this garners is probably the equivalent of a very expensive advertising campaign, attention being very important at this stage of the game given how "Watch Dogs" has been pushed up continually and missed it's intended release alongside the new console generation.

So while the people tell you that this would be stupid and could carry some serious penalties are correct, at the end of the day someone still apparently did it, so in looking at the likely culprit you have to weigh possible motives. From the perspective of the guys at the top of Ubisoft, if caught they could do like any other major corporation, produce some sacrificial lamb and throw it under the bus. Let's say hypothetically Yves Guillimot masterminded this himself along with some other big wigs who all agree this is a genius advertising move, and it backfires and Ubisoft becomes officially suspected of causing the problem, all Yves will do is say "we conducted an investigation and have concluded my signature was forged by middle manager Smithers, who we are very disappointed with and will now be firing" followed by them, as the presumed victims, choosing not to pursue the criminal charges too vigorously. Middle Manager Smithers then is in the position of either prattling off some huge conspiracy theory, or more likely will simply "take it for the team" in exchange for a sweet envelope of cash waiting for him when he gets out for taking the fall (which Ubisoft will gladly pay, simply because if people get paid well it makes them willing to fall on the swords for a good payday when the CEOS ask... an old corporate technique).

Now I'm not saying it was definatly Ubisoft, just that unless more information is forthcoming it's where my guess lies because as valid as the point about serious penalties is, I simply can't see what anyone else would have to gain by taking this gamble. I mean it's pretty dumb for Ubisoft to have done it, I won't deny that, but really, it's even stupider to assign it to some random jerk since the person would have had to be sneaky enough and connected enough to pull this off, yet somehow amazingly stupid enough not to understand the risks compared to the minimal gain even from a lulz perspective. The groups that are powerful enough to troll like this without being particularly afraid of the ramifications, tend to want everyone to know they did it. If this was some kind of Anonymous Op, or a return of Lulzsec, or some new group, they would find a way of letting everyone know almost immediately because that's pretty much the point of the general mayhem... the notoriety.

Therumancer:

From the perspective of the guys at the top of Ubisoft, if caught they could do like any other major corporation, produce some sacrificial lamb and throw it under the bus. Let's say hypothetically Yves Guillimot masterminded this himself along with some other big wigs who all agree this is a genius advertising move, and it backfires and Ubisoft becomes officially suspected of causing the problem, all Yves will do is say "we conducted an investigation and have concluded my signature was forged by middle manager Smithers, who we are very disappointed with and will now be firing" followed by them, as the presumed victims, choosing not to pursue the criminal charges too vigorously. Middle Manager Smithers then is in the position of either prattling off some huge conspiracy theory, or more likely will simply "take it for the team" in exchange for a sweet envelope of cash waiting for him when he gets out for taking the fall (which Ubisoft will gladly pay, simply because if people get paid well it makes them willing to fall on the swords for a good payday when the CEOS ask... an old corporate technique).

I don't think you quiet understand how these investigations work and I also think you overestimate the amount of political clout that Ubisoft has. Since this is a criminal matter it is highly unlikely Ubisoft would be allowed to perform their own investigation and hand over the person they thought was guilty. More likely than not (assuming jurisdiction wasn't an issue, which it would be as they are a French company) it would go more along the line of,

"Hey, we think something might be up and the French government agreed to give us your mail server. So yeah, we're going to be copying all of the content from all of your email over the relevant time frame. If you have a backup we can just copy that, but if not then congrats your email system is offline until we're done cloning what we need. We're also going to be seizing Yves Guillemot's work and home computers along with any phones or tablets he has along with any other people that might be associated with this case, and who the French government agreed to give us a warrant for."

Living_Brain:
"The development won't be affected" -Ubisoft

"I hope the development isn't affected!" -Readers

The part mentioning the development not being affected was in an update. The people who posted about it being delayed most likely posted it before that update.

chimeracreator:

Johnson McGee:
So the trademark office accepts a sketchy document abandoning a trademark on a well publicized project then turns around and places the burden of proof on the complainant to prove that the filing was fraudulent. Typical.

They didn't receive a sketchy document. They received a properly filled out official form that appeared to be signed by all of the right people. When Ubisoft first contested this their legal team failed to supply the correct documentation to prove this point and as such this was rejected with this reason provided. They then resubmitted the correct forms at which point the abandonment was officially withdrawn. This entire process has taken under three days and that's including the time it took Ubisoft to change their legal team around.

Excuse me, I'm trying to be dismissive and critical of a government agency and you're ruining it with your details and truths.

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