In a bizarre new development, Take-Two has forced the makers of It Takes Two to abandon the trademark for the game’s name, lest people confuse the publisher of Grand Theft Auto with a platform puzzler about a crumbling marriage.
As reported by Eurogamer, Take-Two hit indie studio Hazelight with a trademark claim shortly after the game was released in March. A legal dance ensued, but in the meantime the studio, headed by outspoken game designer Josef Fares, was forced to abandoned the trademark for the It Takes Two name.
A spokesperson for Hazelight told Eurogamer that it “cannot comment on ongoing disputes,” but is “hopeful it will be resolved.” It’s unclear how this will affect the game and studio at this point, but according to industry analyst Mike Futter, It Takes Two won’t be forced to be renamed—instead Hazelight and EA just can’t legally protect the name, and thus be able to claim against Take-Two at some point in the future. They could decide to change the name themselves to evade this, but it’s unclear how much this would gain them.
It Takes Two is the third game directed by Josef Fares, famous for innovative indie games and saying “fuck” a lot, and the second game developed by Hazelight, which he founded. Following the critically acclaimed games Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in 2013 and A Way Out in 2018, It Takes Two was revealed at EA Play in 2020, a full nine months before release, and long before the notoriously litigious Take-Two decided its lawyers didn’t have enough frivolous work to do. Take-Two did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As noted by Eurogamer, Take-Two has been loading up the US Patent Office with dozens of other dubious claims against companies using generic words like “rockstar,” “mafia,” and “civilization.” Or even “starrocks.”
The reason companies make moves like this is essentially to future-proof their own rights. If Take-Two decided it wanted to do a whole advertising campaign around “It Takes Two,” for instance, at that point EA or Hazelight could enforce their own trademark to prevent this. By forcing them to abandon it now, Take-Two needn’t worry. But wow, it still sucks, especially when overreaching like this.
Take-Two has targeted other game studios as well, including as recently as October when it went after mobile game company Tripledot Studios, who have requested more time to get to grips with the recently filed trademark claim.
So far, however, the legal dispute with Hazelight doesn’t appear to have hindered the launch of It Takes Two too badly. The EA-published game went on to sell over 3 million copies, and has been nominated for several categories at this year’s Game Awards, including Game of the Year.