It Takes Two, the latest game from Brothers: A Two Sons' Josef Fares, has been hit by a trademark claim from Grand Theft Auto parent company Take-Two.
The acclaimed co-op puzzler about a pair of divorcing parents was struck by a trademark claim before its release earlier this year, it has emerged. Records show developer Hazelight subsequently abandoned ownership of the name.
In a statement to Eurogamer this week, a Hazelight spokesperson said the studio "cannot comment on ongoing disputes", but the team was "hopeful it will be resolved".
Still, Hazelight did not dispute it had been forced to abandon the trademark to its game because of Take-Two - something which can be seen in this notice of abandonment sent to the US Patent Office shortly after Take-Two's claim was filed.
The team also did not comment on how this had impacted Hazelight's ability to sell or market It Takes Two currently, any plans to rename the game, or ideas for any potential sequel.
Take-Two declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer.
It Takes Two is the latest victim in a volley of trademark and copyright claims from publisher Take-Two, and just one of dozens of claims issued this year against a wide array of businesses and products.
US Patent Office records show Take-Two is behind filings to contest numerous names with connections to the words "rockstar", "social club", "mafia", "civilization" and more.
These include a Beijing company's trademark of the brand "Starrocks", the name of clothing brand Max Fayne, plus numerous restaurants, tattoo parlours and other small businesses who had used the word "rockstar" in their name.
"Think Like A Rockstar", a brand behind music books for live performances, abandoned its trademark after Take-Two's legal claim.
"Rockstar Axe Throwing", a Florida-based axe-throwing company, is meanwhile trying to oppose Take-Two's trademark grab, though is one of many now caught in a messy series of extensions and challenges.
It's these tactics, video games industry lawyer Richard Hoeg has said, which Take-Two frequently uses to extract concessions from applicants.
"You can start to see applicants peremptorily limit their own applications to (try to) avoid getting extended out," Hoeg, host of the Virtual Legality podcast, commented. "As well as plenty of folks with legitimate applications simply choosing not to fight by defaulting on the opposition.
"If you look at the Trial and Appeals Board, you can see that Take-Two as filed at least extension requests for 25 challenges in the last three months. Most other game companies go back 6 or 7 years to get to that number. Take-Two is being very, very aggressive.
"It Takes Two by comparison, isn't a company name, and it's of limited use in any event due to the sheer number of goods and services that already use the phrase. I would suspect they simply wind up going untrademarked and relying on copyright."
"This is a rare kind of co-op experience, with an energy and imagination and playfulness that sometimes rivals Nintendo's," our Bertie wrote in Eurogamer's It Takes Two review, recommending the game. "As a toy, it can be a joy, and it will create some co-op moments to remember."