Bandai Namco Is Apparently Looking To Trademark The Term 'Finishing Move'

from the fatality dept

Okay, this really needs to stop happening. There has been a recent wave of those in some way involved in the video gaming business applying for trademarks on insanely common gaming terms and phrases. We saw this in recent examples, such as Sony's brazen attempt to trademark "let's play," a term for wildly popular online videos showing games in action. Tangentially, the Fine Brothers' attempt to transform "react videos" into a licensing revenue stream was met with heavy criticism, warranted or not. And now we have Bandai Namco trying to trademark the term "finishing move" in Japanese.

Specifically, Bandai Namco is trying to patent the Japanese term “Hissatsuwaza,” which translates to “finishing move.” While the term may not be used all that often in English, it is extremely common in Japanese video games, anime, and manga. Though the term seems very clear-cut, it doesn’t always mean that an opponent is “finished.” For example, current Street Fighter games have finishing moves that are flashy but don’t actually kill the opponent like, say, the finishing moves in Mortal Kombat do.
Gamers here in the United States will instantly be familiar with the term "finishing move", having heard its use in all manner of games for decades, from fighting games like Mortal Kombat, to games in other genres, and even as the term has bled into non-gaming vernacular. "Finish Him!" -- the phrase shouted at the culminating moment of a Mortal Kombat game -- is certainly well-known enough for even non-gamers to be familiar with it.

The point is that this trademark attempt comes so unbelievably late in the game that it's hard to view it as anything other than a money-grab achieved through the locking up of common language. Much of the commentary surrounding Bandai Namco's actions here surmise that the attempt is doomed to failure for all the reasons that led to Sony's failure. But this is trademark we're talking about, and with a foreign language thrown in to boot, so who knows?
I don’t see this happening, but if it does, we may see a bunch of games have to call their finishing moves something else. We also don’t know if this trademark extends to non-Japanese speaking countries, since the trademark is technically for “Hissatsuwaza.”
More interesting to me is what the attempt illustrates, which is that incumbent businesses aren't wielding trademark for its purpose, but are instead weaponizing it as either a money-maker or to stamp out competition.

Filed Under: finishing move, japan, trademark, video games
Companies: bandai namco


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2016 @ 3:53pm

    Now?

    How come that they and the other companies try to trademark the terms now years after they were introduced to the broad public?

    If they wanted the trademark at the release of the first Mortal Combat or whenever finishing moves were introduced, then maybe I could have understood it. But now, more than a decade or two later?

    Unless of course I am missing something and there really is a reason why people try it now instead of years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    r_rolo1 (profile), 4 Apr 2016 @ 4:12pm

    I really don't understand ...

    Seriously, I don't understand why companies keep pushing this kind of trademark claims on expressions, since they never work in protecting the brand of their revenue. Let me just give a example ...

    In the 90's the then novel mobile branch of the Statal phone company of Portugal, then called TMN, got a trademark on the portmanteau "telemovel" ( that in portuguese is a contraction of "mobile phone" ) to suposedely protect their brand in the wake of market opening to new brands. The issue was that the term became so popular that actually became the acepted term in ( European ) Portuguese for mobile phone and TMN got stuck in a situation were their trademark on the word was unenforceable in all pratical ways. So they ended never enforcing it and let the claim on the word drop silently ...

    What I mean to say is that IMHO this kind of trademarks is a bad deal for the companies in general: either their trademark word becomes sucessful and they can't really enforce their trademark without major hassles and lawyering fees or the claim is easily enforceable because the term never picked up and so there is little to protect. It is loss-loss situation for everyone ... except for the lawyering people that leech in between :/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2016 @ 5:23pm

      Re: I really don't understand ...

      This is even worse in that the term has been in use for quite some time, so no one would even identify it with anything specifically from Bandai Namco. Except this stupid trademark, of course.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 4 Apr 2016 @ 4:16pm

    We've seen this many times before

    By the way, whatever happened with that trademark on "space marine"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2016 @ 4:22pm

    * Points at trademark paperwork *

    Omae wa mo shindeiru

    * Mortal Kombat's very existence causes paperwork to explode into a thousand tiny fragments *

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 2:43am

      Re:

      I share the sentiment, but you're thinking of "prior art", which is a copyright thing, not a trademark thing.
      I still can't imagine this will go anywhere; I can't think of any Bandai/Namco games where an MK-style finishing move is used, and trademarking SF's non-finishing "finishing moves" seems like a very silly idea, but you know how this stuff goes...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:48am

        Re: Re:

        It IS a trademark thing because it shows common usage, which IS a part of deciding on whether a trademark should be granted, or at least it's SUPPOSED to be part. You shouldn't be allowed to trademark words or phrases or colors or symbols that are commonly used.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 5:41am

    How to do it right

    Bandai Namco, here is how to do it right. Take a lesson from Microsoft® which first demonstrated how to trademark the words Word®, and Excel®.

    Instead of obtaining a trademark for Finishing Move, you should first trademark Finishing™ and then a trademark on Move™. This approach will give you much greater rights than trademarking the combined Finishing Move.

    Sony, similarly you should first obtain a trademark for Let's™, and then a trademark Play™.


    (Notice: The words in this post may be trademarks which are owned by their respective owners. Please™ do™ appropriate™ research™ before™ using™ in™ a™ potentially™ infringing™ way™ in™ your™ own™ posts™.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Apr 2016 @ 5:59am

    Wait, wait, wait.

    You mean to say that Street Fighter is Mortal Kombat sequel in the East?

    I'm so confused. Good thing Bandai is coming to the rescue to dispel the confusion! /sarc

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:48am

    I'm sure the term 'finishing move' also has prior art in quite a few pornographic movies.

    I'd love to see Bandai try to argue that their company pre-dates porn.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 9:51am

    Bandai Namco is a pretty much washed up company anyway.

    No new IP...all it's talented designers and programmers long since jumped ship to rival companies.

    Failing stock, collapsing internal structure, infighting and backstabbing and all it's major shareholders looking for a way to dump their shares......

    All that will be left of Bandai/Namco (a once great software company) is a pathetic patent/IP troll within a few months...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:19am

    Trademarking "finishing move". What a coup de grace!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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