It seems fitting that Ubisoft‘s upcoming next-gen release Watch_Dogs should make headlines as part of some mysterious and nefarious dealings, but fans have had a spectacular blend of mixed messages to start their week.
First came word that Ubisoft had motioned to abandon the Watch Dogs trademark, leaving many to speculate on a possible cause. Now, the French publisher claims those motions were fraudulent, and that development remains on track. We have to ask: could DedSec be to blame?
We should start by pointing out that as of this writing, all is as it was with development of the game that many have held off purchasing a next-gen console for (and how relieved we are to see a trademark story not involving Candy Crush Saga). So those who have been counting the days until the game’s delayed release have no need to adjust their calendars.
The alarming and confusing news began when reports surfaced of Ubisoft filing a notice of “expressed abandonment” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, meaning that the company was revoking their earlier trademarks of the ‘Watch Dogs’ name, leading some to assume the worst: Ubisoft’s plans for the title had been scrapped.
At the time, experts pointed out that a company can have several reasons for abandoning a trademark, the most logical being the intention to re-apply with an updated or more accurate description. But if the notion of a publisher willingly sacrificing rights to a brand name already carrying serious clout in the gaming industry seems suspicious, it turns out there’s good reason.
According to a following report posted on NeoGAF, Ubisoft was moving to prevent the USPTO from abandoning the trademark, citing fraud. The earlier motion to abandon the Watch Dogs name was reportedly signed by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, but Ubisoft is now claiming that the motion, and the signature, was fraudulent, originating from somewhere other than the company.
In addition, the publisher has issued an official statement claiming that fans need not worry, as it’s business as usual for the Watch Dogs development team:
“We are working directly with the USPTO on reinstating the trademark for Watch Dogs and it will be active again in the coming days… The matter has no impact on the Watch Dogs’ development.”
We expect Ubisoft to issue further comments and clarification as the story develops, but for now, it’s a complete mystery as to how or why someone set the wheels of abandoning Watch Dogs‘ name turning. Could this be case of the hackers being hacked? Could a real-life Aiden Pearce be making his presence known? We’ll keep you updated as more information arrives.
Watch Dogs will be available for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One in spring 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.