UK developer Rebellion rebels unsuccessfully against the First Amendment

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Lawyers are sometimes excellent at writing unintentional comedy. For instance, the lawyers for Rebellion, the UK developer of such games as Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2, Rogue Trooper, and Rogue Warrior, which isn’t actually the same thing as Rogue Trooper. Rogue Warrior is the game that finally roused itself from its deep slumber for the end credits, which played various Mickey Rourke soundbites over a laidback 80s porn groove. I recommend putting it on a loop for your next candlelight dinner. As for Rogue Trooper (pictured), I have no idea what it is. And I even reviewed it for 1up.

Anyway, the Rogue Warrior developers sued Ironclad, the developers of Sins of a Solar Empire, for having the temerity to use the word rebellion in one of their add-ons. These sorts of suits normally get announced and then quietly resolved without the lawyers sharing any of their hilarity with the rest of us. No such thing happened in the legal battle between Rebellion and Ironclad, which went to court and was subsequently decided in Ironclad’s favor on the basis of people in America having the First Amendment right to use generic words without some shovelware developer in the UK getting all pissy and attempting some half-assed extortion racket because they haven’t figured out how to make a decent Judge Dredd game already. So now we can read the substance of Rebellion’s complaint to Ironclad, taken from their initial cease and desist letter:

There can be only one reason for choosing the name “REBELLION” as the name of this game, and that is that it is identical to our client’s name. The choice of name for your game is designed to confuse members of the public into believing that this game emanated from our client or has been endorsed by our client. Alternatively, you have chosen REBELLION as the game’s name to take unfair advantage of the reputation of our client or to dilute the distinctiveness of our client’s reputation. All these actions are types of passing off that the choice of REBELLION by your company is intended to perpetrate on our client’s goodwill. If you are allowed to misrepresent your game in the way indicated, it will cause damage to our client’s goodwill.

For one half of the story and more legal documents than you can throw a habeas corpus at, read Ironclad’s account here. For Rebellion’s side of the story, well, their lawyers’ cease and desist letter speaks volumes. I find they’re best read to the end credits theme from Rogue Warrior. “Hope you assholes like fireworks”, indeed.

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