Angry Words

Rovio files trademark infringement lawsuit against Roxio.

Today, Rovio Mobile Ltd., the Finnish publisher of “the phenomenally successful Angry Birds franchise” (according to its own web site) announced a trademark lawsuit against Roxio (Sonic Solutions), publishers of the “industry leading consumer [CD/DVD burning software]”  Roxio Creator.

According to a company spokesman, the move is intended to eliminate confusion between the two similarly named products, and now that Rovio has secured $42 Million in financing based on a fluke success of a significantly derivative title, unlikely to be repeatable to investor expectations, the funding will be used primarily to find other “business opportunities” rather than continue actual game development.

After the untold effort and expense of assuring that Rovio and Angry Birds were mentioned in every single GDC [2011 Game Developers Conference] session this year, some attendees were still referring to us as ‘Roxio’, and that has to stop,” says Peter Vesterbacka, a US-based executive for Rovio Mobile.

Although Rovio Mobile has discussed its IPO plans, it is not yet a publicly traded company; nevertheless, Angry Birds dropped three positions in the App Store on news of the lawsuit.

This lawsuit could set a new trademark precedent, as Roxio was producing software under that name several years before Rovio even existed; however, the plaintiff is attempting to officially establish the acknowledged “we’re just bigger” exception to trademark law, which makes the timing of this filing essential.

Meanwhile, the media battle continues outside the courtroom.  Roxio’s parent company Sonic Solutions was itself acquired by Rovi Corporation.  In retaliation, Rovio announced an Angry Birds collaboration with Rio; Rio is an animated movie to be released April 15, with an appropriate tagline: “this turkey can’t fly“.  Industry sources indicate that Roxio’s next move to solidify its trademark claims will be a foray into the pharmaceutical industry and associated commercial use of “Rx“.

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