The Witcher studio CD Projekt RED doesn’t often find itself in hot water with controversy, but a recent wade into the wonderful world of trademarks has irked gamers and other enthusiasts across the Internet. The company has secured the trademark for the word “cyberpunk” in preparation for its upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077.
The Internet isn’t having it one bit. Reddit erupted with concerns to the point where CD Projekt RED took to its Twitter account to defend the acquisition, promising not to use its trademark to bully others.
Information about Cyberpunk trademark. pic.twitter.com/4mufRCp9Gf
— CD PROJEKT RED (@CDPROJEKTRED) April 6, 2017
It’s almost like a Cyberpunk story itself
There isn’t a soul on Earth who couldn’t recognize the irony here. Cyberpunk as a science-fiction genre deals with the flow and control of information through digital space, and often times, antagonist corporations turn to trademarks and other legal means to block it from reaching the general public. The hero of these stories is a freelancer or a hacker who is able to set that information free.
CD Projekt RED, making a game about such a hacker and a setting, has inadvertently set itself up as a cyberpunk villain by turning to one of the Internet’s hottest legal debates. There’s no reason to suspect that it will use the word maliciously, and it even points out that the previous owner of the Cyberpunk 2077 games owned the trademark with no problems being raised.
However, I’ve also seen a company claim that a viking saga infringed upon the rights of their cute, candy stacking game. In that case, gamers revolted and called the company out, leading to a full retreat. The Internet knows how to keep these trademarks in check, and that’s through good old-fashioned shaming. It seems to work, for now.
Cyberpunk 2077 is in development for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. No release window has been announced yet.