Battle Vs. Chess Killed Off by Trademark Lawsuit

So I’m probably one of four people in the world who cared, but last Fall promotional material started appearing for an XBox 360 game produced by SouthPeak Games called “Battle vs. Chess.” In fact, Official XBox Magazine actually published a review of the game in their Holiday 2010 issue, saying,

The game’s core chess experience is outstanding, but where it really takes off is in its variations, many of which makes chess feel brand-new. One mode couples fog of war with random piece placement . .

Then the game’s release date kept being pushed back, and finally Gamestop and other retailers were saying it had been canceled. Finding information on why the game was canceled or delayed has not been easy, but apparently Interplay filed a complaint that the game’s title was too similar to its Battle Chess trademark.

On October 26, 2010, Interplay filed the following report with the SEC,

Item 8.01


The Company filed a lawsuit against TopWare Interactive, Inc. to enjoin infringement of the Company’s federally registered Battle Chess trademark and to recover damages.  On October 21, 2010, the United States District Court, Central District of California, determined preliminarily that TopWare’s use of “Battle vs. Chess” in conjunction with a chess video game is confusingly similar to Battle Chess.  The Court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting use of “Battle vs. Chess” by TopWare, its officers, directors, affiliated companies, and those acting in concert with the foregoing.  “Battle vs. Chess” was to be co-published and distributed in the U.S. by SouthPeak Interactive Corporation.  Following the ruling, the Company will continue to protect  its intellectual property rights in the Battle Chess trademark against TopWare and others who are or may be contributing to the alleged infringement.

On the one hand, this is ridiculous. Interplay has not published a game with the Battle Chess name since 1994. On the other hand, how did SouthPeak Games and publisher TopWare not do even a minimal Google search on “Battle vs. Chess” which would have revealed the very similar name of the Interplay game before they got to the point where the game was actually finished?

The only thing certain in the high stakes world of video game development is the preponderance of poor business decisions.

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