Rocksmith: Ubisoft battles band for game name

For most gamers, Rocksmith is an upcoming rhythm title from Ubisoft, which allows you to play your own, real guitar along with the characters on the screen.

For five men from England, however, “Rocksmith” is an unsigned band they’ve been gigging around the Southend region with for years, currently working on their debut album.

Rocksmith, the band

Rocksmith, with Kris Ford centre

Drummer Kris Ford had the foresight to register the band’s name even before finding musicians to play with him, owning the Rocksmith trademark for eight years total. The first he heard about Rocksmith the game was when Ubisoft tried to register the title in March 2011.

Ford claims that his efforts to defend what is rightfully his have already cost him hundreds of pounds, and he’s looking at potentially losing thousands more.

He explains:

I first registered the name ‘Rocksmith’ in 2003 and the band have been together since 2007. We were recently voted the UK’s number-one unsigned act and we have a social media following of about 50,000.

Ubisoft have a legal trademark pending. It cost me €350 (£305, $495) to file an official opposition – and if lawyers have to get involved it’s likely to cost me thousands more.

The drummer believes that Ubisoft are intending to “stonewall” the band until a pre-set deadline which will see the software company winning the name by default. If that happens, Ubisoft can order the band to stop using the name they’ve had for years.

Rocksmith's stage set-up

The Essex band's stage display

Until this year, Ford had been very proud of the band’s seemingly unique moniker.

I spent ages thinking up a word which describes what the band is all about. We’ve worked hard to use it to help achieve the modest recognition we’ve gained so far.

Losing the name would tear the heart out of our approach. So I don’t intend to stand here and let it be stolen – I hope we Ubisoft will at least discuss it with me.

Realistically, he doesn’t believe this will happen, accusing the French company of using “big-business bully-boy strategies”, and claiming Ubisoft are exploiting the company’s increased access to legal services.

They’re effectively trying to steal our name.

While all of this is being waged in the UK, you wouldn’t know it. Ubisoft have spent months promoting the upcoming release – taking a “tour bus” around the United States and appearing at major gaming expos such as E3.

A spokesperson for Ubisoft told local media:

I can confirm we are aware of the band’s opposition to our trademark application and that a representative of the band contacted us via email. We have replied to them, also via email. In general we do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings so I cannot disclose further details.

This story was featured in Episode 25, Season 2 of playerattack News:

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