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Rocksmith band blocking Ubisoft speaks

"They just ignored me."

Ubisoft "ignored" phone calls and emails from UK rock band Rocksmith while trying to file a Rocksmith (video game) trademark in Europe, Eurogamer has learnt.

Ubisoft announced this morning that Rocksmith wouldn't be released in Europe until 2012, due to music licensing and "other external factors".

Rocksmith, the band, told Eurogamer it wanted to work with Ubisoft.

But it was only when a formal opposition was lodged against Ubisoft's application that the publisher took heed.

"I wrote to Ubisoft and said, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I already own the name Rocksmith, and I've just discovered you're planning on launching the game," percussionist Kris Ford told Eurogamer.

"Instead of messing around getting involved in big legal issues, why don't we do some kind of deal, because obviously I've got the band, you've got the game, the two would work well side-by-side.

"We could promote the game, you could promote the band - we'll even give you some songs to put on there.

"And they just ignored me," Ford said.

Reluctantly Ford lodged the formal opposition as a deadline for doing so - 18th August - arrived.

"I couldn't not oppose it," he explained, "because if I let it slip, then I'd miss the boat. So I had to make a formal opposition, which I did do, and lo-and-behold in three days I got a letter from Ubisoft saying, 'Oh, yeah, in response to your earlier letter...' And of course I just laughed because it was obvious that they hadn't responded to my earlier letters, they'd responded to my formal opposition."

Ford hasn't had any luck talking to Ubisoft since, but suspects the publisher of throwing its weight around in an attempt to intimidate him.

"They've threatened me with a defamation of character action, for comments that I've made in the media. I'm not quite sure what they mean by that," he admitted. "They were just being bullies I think, because there's nothing I've said that can't be backed up with absolute fact. I've got documents proving that I registered the name."

Ford's formal opposition to the Ubisoft Rocksmith trademark is progressing "very slowly" with the OHIM, "The European Union agency responsible for registering trade marks and designs that are valid in all 27 countries of the EU".

"The wheels of justice grind very slowly," he joked. "According to the document I have in front of me, from the OHIM, unless I withdraw my opposition, which is pretty unlikely, the process for the opposition of their trade mark is likely to continue, at least, until 29th February next year."

"But it's really up to them; it's not up to me. If they come to me and they start talking with some degree of respect and sensibility, then I am happy to withdraw my opposition. But until such time as Ubisoft decide to play the white man, I will just carry on fighting it."

Ford told us he "doesn't have a clue" what offer he would accept now, but would still be prepared to listen if Ubisoft came knocking.

"If they wanted to do that I would not be averse to it. But the more they ignore me and make stupid legal threats, the more annoyed I become so the higher the price becomes," he said. "I would be open to offers, but what offers I haven't got a clue.

"But bear in mind they earned $89 million in the first quarter of the financial year - they've got a few bob to spare.

He added: "Everything is down to them; if they want to delay then they just carry on as they are. If they don't want to delay things then they'd better start talking to me or my lawyers."

Rocksmith, the band, has nearly 60,000 fans/friends on MySpace.

"We confirm that Christopher Ford has filed a complaint regarding our request to trademark the name Rocksmith for a video game," Ubisoft told Eurogamer in a statement.

"We respect the rules that the trademark office has set up to handle this kind of issue and will respond accordingly."