The Battle of Monsters: Monster Energy vs Pokemon and other games

Monster Energy, the popular energy drink brand, has become well-known for their aggressive stance on protecting their trademark rights. They have been particularly vigilant when it comes to game developers using the word "Monster" in their game titles or branding. Over the years, Monster Energy has filed numerous trademark complaints against game developers for alleged infringement, claiming that the use of the word "Monster" in their games causes confusion with Monster Energy's brand.


Igor Demcak

Monster Energy and trademark enforcement

The energy drink company has recently filed yet another trademark complaint against an indie developer. Monster Energy now challenges Glowstick Entertainment for using the word "monster" in the title of its game Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals. The company has stated that the developer cannot use the word “monster” or even variations of the word, including “monstrous” and “monstrosity.”

There have been numerous other examples of trademark disputes between Monster Energy and game developers in the past. One example is a dispute that arose in 2015 between Monster Energy and the makers of the video game "Rockin' Android," which features a character called "Monster Girl." Monster Energy claimed that the use of the word "monster" in the game title and the character name was likely to cause confusion among consumers and dilute the value of its trademarks. The parties eventually reached a settlement agreement, and the game was rebranded as "Astro Port." 

Another example is a dispute that arose in 2019 between Monster Energy and the makers of the game "Monster HydroStadium," which features a fictional energy drink called "Monster Hydro." Monster Energy claimed that the use of the word "monster" in the game title and the fictional energy drink name was likely to cause confusion among consumers and infringe on its trademarks. The parties ultimately settled the dispute out of court.

It is of no surprise that a company as big as Monster Energy would go against small indie game developers, but the lawsuits were not also in their favour. Most prominently, according to recently published GamesRadar’s report, in 2016 Monster Energy went as far as to challenge a well-known Pokemon franchise, by filing a trademark complaint against Monster Hunter Cross, the Japanese version of Monster Hunter Generations, on the grounds that it's similar to the Monster brand. The Japanese website Automaton uncovered over 100 trademark complaints filed by Monster Energy Company, the parent company of Monster Energy Drink, over the use of "Monster" by various franchises and companies. These complaints include filings against Pokemon X and Y, Pokemon Sun and Moon, and Monster Hunter Cross, along with a filing against the Monster Hunter trademark as a whole.

Are Monster’s trademark complaints justified?

A trademark is a symbol, word, or phrase that is used to identify and distinguish the goods or services of one company from those of others. Trademark law protects the owner of the trademark by giving them the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the goods or services for which it is registered. When a company believes that another company is using a similar mark that might confuse consumers, it can file a trademark complaint. The complaint alleges that the other company's use of the mark is causing confusion among consumers and infringing on the owner's rights.

Monster Energy is known for being vigilant about protecting its trademarks. In addition to its iconic claw mark logo, Monster Energy also has trademarks on the words "Monster" and "Monster Energy," as well as various designs and slogans associated with its products. These trademarks help to distinguish the company's products from those of its competitors and are an important part of its branding and marketing strategy. The company has a large portfolio of trademarks and takes action to enforce its rights when it believes they are being infringed upon. This includes filing trademark complaints and lawsuits against individuals or companies that it believes are using its marks without authorization. 

Like many companies with valuable intellectual property, Monster Energy takes a proactive approach to protecting its trademarks in order to maintain their value and prevent unauthorized use. This includes monitoring the marketplace for potential infringements and taking action when necessary to protect its rights. However, in order for a company to successfully challenge another trademark, they typically need to prove that the other trademark is likely to cause confusion among consumers regarding the source of the goods or services being offered. This is because trademark law is primarily concerned with protecting consumers from being misled or confused about the origin of products or services. 

To prove likelihood of confusion, a company will typically need to show that the two trademarks are similar enough in appearance, sound, or meaning that consumers are likely to be confused or deceived into believing that the products or services offered under the two marks come from the same source. Other factors that may be considered in determining likelihood of confusion include the strength of the trademarks, the similarity of the products or services offered under the marks, and the channels of trade and advertising used by the parties. It's worth noting, however, that there are other grounds on which a trademark can be challenged or invalidated, such as if it is generic, descriptive, or lacks distinctiveness. Additionally, there may be other factors that come into play in a given case, and the specific legal requirements for proving likelihood of confusion can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case.

The company that challenges trademarks of others despite the lack of likelihood of confusion may lose their image in the eyes of the public. If a company is perceived as using trademark law to unfairly target or bully other businesses, or if it is seen as overreaching in its attempts to protect its own trademarks, it may damage its reputation in the eyes of its consumers. This could lead to negative publicity, loss of customers, or even legal sanctions.

Igor Demcak
Igor Demcak

Trademark Attorney

Founder & CEO of Trama

7 year experience in IP protection

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