CD Projekt Red Has Registered A Trademark On "Cyberpunk" And The Internet Is Unhappy


I feel like this is one of those articles where all you need is the headline, but I'll break it down anyway since it's apparently a huge deal. I mean, I get it, they registered a trademark on what is, essentially, an aesthetic. That's a bit broad and frankly annoying, but it's an annoying side-effect of a capitalistic society that cares more about legal verbiage than the contents of your closet and bookshelf.

The trademark CD Projekt filed only gives them sole rights to use the word "CYBERPUNK" in branding, advertising, and the like. So, they can go ahead and make games called "CYBERPUNK" but you can still call your aesthetic cyberpunk, set your fanfiction in settings you call cyberpunk, or even go to cyberpunk-themed events as long as those events aren't named just "CYBERPUNK." "Cybercon" is still unregistered. They might want to get on that, similarly to how Activision and Bungie did with "DestinyCon" a few months back.

So no, CD Projekt Red isn't coming to raid your closets. They aren't taking your blasters, your LED corsets, or your books. It's not exclusive rights, it does not grant CD Projekt Red ownership of the term "cyberpunk," simply the rights to publish under that name. And they had some of those trademarks thanks to buying out the copyright to a series of pen and paper RPGs called Cyberpunk 2013 and Cyberpunk 2020. But, because 2020 is too close and 2013 is in the past, CD Projekt Red have had to expand. So rather than buy out the copyrights to "Cyberpunk (every year from now until eternity)," they decided to Occam's Razor it and just trademark "Cyberpunk."

In their own words, CD Projekt defended the trademark saying, "We wish to protect our hard work and we don't plan on using the trademark offensively," or so says their twitter account. The trademark was registered as a "self-defense" measure to prevent competitors from doing the same. The whole controversy stems from CD Projekt's upcoming title Cyberpunk 2077 and their attempts to keep all rights in line so they could name a sequel anything from "say, Cyberpunk 2078 or Cyberpunk 2."

But hey, if you twitter search for "Cyberpunk" and "trademark" all you get are articles upon articles about how CD Projekt has assuaged the fears of concerned citizens. Not that everyone got the message though:

Trademark law is a bit of a weird, fringe area and often gets conflated with Copyright law, which is a whole different genre of law. So here's a handy little breakdown for you. Basically: copyright is far more restrictive, while trademarks are much more passive. That's why you can find those off-brand Oreo cookies that look exactly like Oreo cookies but have different packaging and are also secretly the original thing? That's because of trademarking.


As for the upset, I get it, it sounds exactly like CD Projekt Red are trying to take your things. And, well, they kind of are if you look at it like this: things that already exist and are called "Cyberpunk" are fine, but in the future, they may not be. Sure, CD Projekt Red is a company mostly made of apparently sane people, and sure, your high school play titled "Cyberpunk: My Destined Future" is likely to be absolutely fine, but larger projects could rack up a decent amount in legal fees.

So no, they aren't taking your things, it's just that things you might get in the future may need to be retitled to avoid poking the sleeping dragon that is CD Projekt Red's legal department.

What type of dragon is that, you ask? I have no idea.

You can read CD Projekt Red's statement in full below:

About Madeline Ricchiuto

Madeline Ricchiuto is a gamer, comics enthusiast, bad horror movie connoisseur, writer and generally sarcastic human. She also really likes cats and is now Head Games Writer at Bleeding Cool.

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