No Man's Sky Settles With Sky TV So It Can Have 'Sky' In Its Name

from the the-limit dept

As you may or may not be aware, Sky TV is a European cable television network owned by Rupert Murdoch. Sky TV is also a company that has trademarked the word “sky” and enjoys bludgeoning anyone who uses the word “sky” in business into the ground. This has resulted in exceptionally silly disputes, such as Sky TV suing Skype, despite there being not a lick of competition between a messaging/calling system and television.

This past week, gaming enthusiasts learned that the much anticipated open universe space exploration game No Man’s Sky had been battling with Sky TV over the inclusion of the word “sky” in its title. This case of trademark bullying can act as a wonderful barometer, because if you don’t think this is ridiculous, then you are ridiculous.

Did you think that the highly anticipated, procedurally generated space exploration game No Man’s Sky was in any way related to British telecommunications and broadcasting giant Sky? Of course you didn’t. But it apparently took the legal system three years to come to the same conclusion.

That’s according to Sean Murray, managing director of No Man’s Sky maker Hello Games. Over the weekend, Murray tweeted that the company had settled a legal dispute with Sky over the game’s name after “3 years of secret stupid legal nonsense.” In a follow-up tweet, he added that “this is the same folks who made Microsoft change Skydrive to Onedrive… so it was pretty serious.”

It is indeed serious for a number of reasons. First, that the legal system is such that a large megalith can carry on a 3 year trademark campaign against a much smaller company over the use of a common word in a game title that in no way is connected to the former’s business interests serves as a wonderful example of how perverted trademark law has become from its original purpose. Second, that the USPTO could approve a trademark on this kind of common word without doing so narrowly enough that any claim from Sky TV like this would be immediately laughed out of court and result in the censure of the company’s lawyers should give you some idea of the headwinds the original purpose of trademark faces at the level of the government. Keep in mind that this dispute was settled, rather than being concluded. And that’s after 3 years. Over the word “sky.” Come on now.

And, finally, lest you think this whole thing amounts to an annoyance, there are very real business consequences for Hello Games.

No Man’s Sky was recently delayed from a planned June 21 launch to August 9, leaving many wondering what was troubling the game’s development at this late stage. A legal battle that would have required a last-minute name change would certainly fit the bill for such a delay, though we can’t know for sure if this was the cause at this point.

Yes, we don’t know for sure, but the timing makes sense and the clearly annoyed developer tweeting this out in this way would indicate that this was an issue affecting the launch in some way. So Hello Games has its game delayed over a stupid lawsuit over a common word that somehow took three years to settle. Trademark bullying works.

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Companies: hello games, sky tv

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Comments on “No Man's Sky Settles With Sky TV So It Can Have 'Sky' In Its Name”

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Anonymous Coward says:

There should be no trademarks on simple common words ,
like sky ,beer,plane ,
coffee etc
if there is a trademark for a tv company it means you can only sue someone in the same business as you .
A pc game is not competing with sky tv .
imagine if ibm got a trademark on laptop ,pc,tablet ,
it could sue many companys who sell laptops or pcs .
Allowing simple common words in trademarks does not help the public or promote competition.

Anonymous Coward says:


now I will refuse to purchase either of these companies titles.

Sky TV for being a rat bastard, and the game Dev for rolling over like a bitch. Yes I know it is hard, but you HAVE TO FIGHT!!! If you don’t then you don’t need my money. Had they fought, I would have purchased the game on principal to support them.

I will never feel sorry for anyone that sells their soul or settles with the devil!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Perfect

It must be nice having unlimited money, being able to fight against any legal action filed against you until the bitter end because you never have to worry about it draining your bank account until there’s nothing left.

Never having to weigh the idea of settling now, even though you believe you would triumph eventually, versus fighting it out legally and potentially losing simply because your opponent has more money to throw at the case. Yeah, that’s got to be nice.

Should companies and individuals defend themselves against bogus threats, whether copyright trolling or an absurd battle over the use of a single word? Absolutely, caving just makes it more and more obvious that bogus lawsuits and threats work. Unfortunately not everyone is like you with your unlimited money to work with, and most people and companies have to consider that fighting it out may very well end up a pyrrhic victory for them in the end, as even in ‘victory’ they end up losing, making settling the lesser of the two evils, if only just.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Their own fault?

I don’t know what really happened here, but I’m strongly tempted to think this is the fault of the publishers of “No Man’s Sky”:

Publisher: Hey! “No Man’s Sky” is coming!

Murdoch: Nasty letter – don’t use “Sky” or we’ll sue.

At this point what the publisher should have done:

Publisher: Screw you. You have no case. Sue if you want – you’ll lose.

But what they actually did was:

Publisher: Oh no! Please don’t sue us! Let’s talk this over…

And so they got what they deserved for not having the balls to just publish.

Maybe that’s not what happened. But freedom doesn’t work if everyone is terrified to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes you have to stand on your rights and accept the risk that the other party may sue – if you’re reasonably sure you’re within your rights (and will therefore win).

Otherwise, we have a permission-based society. Nobody does anything without consulting lawyers.

jms (profile) says:

Re: Their own fault?

“Murdoch: Nasty letter – don’t use “Sky” or we’ll sue.”

No, it was…

We’re suing you.

The lawsuit was Withdrawn by Sky… Some settlement, Sky deciding they didn’t have a case they could make on a Video Game (though I doubt that would deter them)… no idea.

But they were sued … it wasn’t the threat of a lawsuit, it was a lawsuit. Looking at the date, that was filed about 5-6 months after the VGX awards in 2013 where the first No Man’s Sky trailer was shown, and about a month before the 2014 E3 that most people see as the first “real” reveal.

Note: The image was from a post online. Wish I knew the original source, but that’s the extent I currently have.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Their own fault?

Let me guess. You don’t know many lawyers.

There’s a certain type of lawyer that always advises their client to spend more money on lawyering in any given context.

And there’s a certain type of client (ignorant, terrified, unconfident, overly respectful of expertise, or some combination thereof) that lets them.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Their own fault?

“if the publishers had handled the initial threat differently, the outcome would have been different”

Obviously, I don’t know the details either, but I am assuming the response to any initial threat would have been “no.” That would have been enough to trigger the lawsuit.

The thing is, assuming that my assumption is roughly true, I’m not sure how it could have been handled differently. “No” would have been the correct response.

Although, I confess, my instinct would have been to respond with “fuck off”. But that’s one of the reasons I have an attorney — so I know when to not speak my mind.

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