After three decades of collaboration with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (“Fifa”), Electronic Arts Inc. (“EA”), the company that owns EA Sports, has told fans that it will no longer produce its world-famous football video game under the name “FIFA”.
It now plans to release a game under the name EA SPORTS FC.
It is a big decision given EA has generated around $20bn in sales of the FIFA game, not to mention a loyal, global fanbase. It has been reported, however, that FIFA wanted to charge EA significantly more money (allegedly US$300 million) for the continued use of its name.
EA also has its own reasons for wanting more flexibility in how it designs, markets and commercialises the game to take advantage of gamers’ desires for a more a bespoke, individual gaming experience as well as commercial opportunities in esports and NFTs.
We could maybe have seen the split coming.
EA applied to register the word mark “EA SPORTS FC” as a UK trade mark with the UKIPO on 1 October 2021 (similar applications were made for trade marks in other jurisdictions such as the EU, Canada, Australia and the US).
It is a worthwhile reminder that you do not have to wait until you are actually trading under a brand name or logo before applying to register it as a trade mark. If you have a bona fide intention to use a mark at the time of application, you have a period of 5 years in which to use that that mark in the course of trade before a third party can apply to invalidate it on the basis of “non-use”.
So, if you have developed a brand name or logo, register it. You can then focus energy and resources on developing your brand around that name or logo prior to launching your products or services.
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