Author Who Coined the Term “Cyberpunk” Discusses CD Projekt RED’s Recent Trademark; Wants to Contact Dev to Clarify Concerns

Bruce Bethke discusses CD Projekt RED’s trademark application for “cyberpunk.”

CD Projekt RED is currently developing Cyberpunk 2077, but their recent trademark application for the word “Cyberpunk” sparked a little controversy since the word should be able to be used freely by other developers and video game studios.

This controversy forced CD Projekt RED to release an explanation to why they filed the application, which you can see below.

Bruce Bethke, who is seen as the original author behind the term “cyberpunk” back in the early 1980s. Bethke was featured in a recent interview with World Trademark Review, where he shared his opinion on the matter and asked CD Projekt RED to contact him so he can clarify some of his concerns.

My understanding of American trademark law is that trademark depends on context. While you can trademark a logotype or a unique variation – eg, as I recall, R. Talsorian Games’ trademark was specifically for a role-playing game named ‘Cyberpunk 2020’ – you can’t just trademark a word for all purposes everywhere. Hence when some company back in the 1980s tried to claim a trademark on the word ‘cyberpunk’ because they were publishing a Cyberpunk comic book, well, tough – it didn’t hold up.

I do rather wish someone from CD Projekt RED would contact me, though, to clarify a few of my concerns.

Do you believe video game companies should be able to trademark certain words?