CD Projekt Red filing a trademark for the word “cyberpunk” has been under a lot of criticism lately, namely because the word is so generic. It refers to an entire genre of culture and art, and some folk found this kind of restricted use of the word to be offensive.
However, CDPR has come out to explain why they filed the trademark for “cyberpunk” and to emphasize that this wasn’t some frivolous or irrational decision. According to their explanation, the studio would like to the protect the hard work they’ve done so far on their new game, Cyberpunk 2077. They don’t want to use “the trademark offensively – it’s a self-defense measure only.”
And to debunk the basis of most of the criticism, CDPR stated that we should keep in mind the extremely confusing difference between a trademark, and a copyright. A copyright restricts the use of the word in business related things, like branding, products covered by the trademark, and advertising.
For example, a copyright is like that of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise, protecting the IP of “Assassin’s Creed” more than a logo or brand.
A trademark, however, is to distinguish a name or symbol from those manufactured or sold by others to assure its exclusive use by its owner or licensee. Like the words Xbox or PlayStation, a trademark doesn’t restrict use of the word but does claim ownership of it.
In addition to protecting their IP, CDPR filed this trademark ensure that they are able to name sequels to the game without having to file another trademark for it, like if the sequel to Cyberpunk 2077 is Cyberpunk 2078 or Cyberpunk 2.