Software company sues metal band for “doom” on their behalf
MF Doom, Doom Flaming and Doomtree. “Doom” is often used in group names. In fact, there are at least 21 artists on Spotify whose name is just Doom. So when the owner of the trademark for “Doom” starts suing musicians …
By Timothée Geigner by Techdirt.
id Software is no stranger to silly intellectual property enforcement actions. Between trying to appropriate concepts that cannot be possessed and occasionally trying to use its legal force to intimidate others into not using common words in their own video game titles, the company has proven that she was perfectly capable of playing the role of intellectual property tyrant. But at least in these specific cases, if you look at them, they sort of look like industry-related intellectual property disputes, almost understandable.
When it comes to how id Software applies its revered Loss but this is not the case. The company has a habit of opposing and / or sending C&D to all kinds of barely related or unrelated business entities for trying to register anything that has to do with the word ‘doom’: podcasts, festivals and entertainment properties. And now, it seems, thrash metal bands too.
Dustin Mitchell, like many of us in recent years, stumbled upon the term “doomscrolling” and decided “Doomscroll” would be a cool name for his next metal band. After having had the idea, he decides to file a trademark on the name of the musical acts. And then came the opposition from id Software.
In October, Mitchell was playing guitar before bed when he decided to check his emails one last time. A message from a lawyer appeared in his inbox. “Dear Mr. Mitchell,” one reads. “My law firm represents Id Software LLC, owner of the DOOM video game and associated trademarks. That day, October 13, he continued, was the deadline for Id Software LLC, or anyone else, to oppose its “doomscroll” trademark application. The lawyer asked Mitchell to agree to extend the deadline. That way, Mitchell and the developer of Doom could find the time to come to a resolution before any legal action.
Mitchell immediately felt funny; even a little sour. He was 10 years old in 1993, when Doom took the video game world by storm, giving Edgelord gamers the power to blast demons with a multitude of guns against a backdrop of blazing hell. He’d played Doom and Doom 2 at the time, which he both described as “awesome”, and had listened to the metal-inspired soundtrack for 2020’s Doom Eternal, which he described as “not bad.” Mitchell has now found himself in an unexpected stalemate with his developer. He loved these games as a kid, he says, but “they’re trying to take something away from me that has nothing to do with them.”
Irrelevant at all points. It doesn’t matter what soundtracks id Software has produced for Loss titles, unless he has registered his trademark for the musical space, it is completely irrelevant. And even if he made registering a mark for acts or musical productions probably does not yet make it a valid opposition. “Doomscroll” is in no way a reference to the video game series. Instead, it has become a common slang term for the way everyday people use social media. They are not related. Also, the words aren’t the same and I find it hard to believe that the metal-crazed audience would somehow be confused to think that id Software is somehow involved.
And yet, id Software just causes problems for a musician because they can.
The company owns several trademarks around the word “doom” and video games; Over the past month, the company has also filed oppositions against the “ODoom” and “Doomlings” brands. Prior to that, Id Software had filed objections against entertainment properties Maryland Doom Fest, Garden of Doom, and Doomsday Happy Hour. JB, the guy behind the Maryland Doom Fest, says he didn’t chase the mark after Id’s initial opposition. It would have been too expensive, he thinks. Jeff, who tried to register for the Garden of Doom trademark, his podcast, says he’s come to an agreement with lawyers representing Id Software; he says he just can’t make a movie or video game called Garden of Doom.
Right now, the fate of Doomscroll is in the hands of Id Software and the Patent Office. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board deals with the opposition of the developer of Doom. A heavy test schedule was sent out in mid-October, which runs through 2023. Id Software may not even want the Doomscroll brand; he just might not want Mitchell to form a progressive thrash metal band that maybe someone will mistake for the legendary game series.
Except that it is It will not arrive. Either Mitchell, who works at Amazon during the day, is going to lead a likely long and arduous process at TTAB, or, more likely, will find that such a fight is not worth the personal cost it would cost. And, therefore, id Software’s bullying will work as intended, to simply force a smaller entity out of the fight.