No one should own the word "gamify"

August 25, 2010 44 Comments

The guys over at Gamify, Inc. filed an application to trademark the word "Gamify" in the way we all know and use it today. We couldn't sit on the sidelines and let one individual or company own an idea that is so important to us and everyone else involved in gamifying online experiences.  

 
Gamify trademark application doc

Here's a link to the actual application: http://tmportal.uspto.gov/external/portal/tow?SRCH=Y&isSubmitted=true&details=&SELECT=US+Serial+No&TEXT=85052976#

In that light, the EVO Media Group has decided to step-up and ask Gamify, Inc. in a formal letter to abandon this attempt to own an idea that has clearly been developed by a whole community of people, like us, that are working hard to make the internet a fun, engaging and useful place for everyone.  We’ve already talked to a number of other companies in the gamification space, and they have said that they will support our cause should this turn into a larger legal matter.  

We have been working very hard in the gamification space and so have others …Bunchball, Big Door, etc…   This word should be kept free to define our industry.

  • Nathan Lands - August 26, 2010 8:20 PM

    Geoffrey,

    I'm unsure what the intention is here as you know my personal e-mail and contact info but have not even mentioned this to me. Also, I don't appreciate that you've shared my personal address now on your blog. Plus, I understand that as of yesterday you have hired lawyers to actively try to stop my company from trademarking the word Gamify, our company name. There seems to be some major confusion here and considering you have my contact info and we've talked before I would have assumed you would talk to me before hiring lawyers.

    As I mentioned to you in my e-mail weeks ago, Gamify (my company) has some highly ambitious goals. I was just letting you know that there could be brand confusion for consumers in the future if you were trying to launch Gamify.TV as a brand considering Gamify is our company name, and we have the Gamify.com URL as well as many other variations of the word.

    We just did what every startup does by default, incorporate with our company name and then try to protect it. We did that months ago, and it's just what start-up companies do when they get off the ground. My personal goal was to protect our name as a company and also as a product name. Everyone can use the word gamify as a verb, that is actually what we want! We're just in preliminary stages now with the trademark application, . If it makes sense, we'll work with our lawyers to decide what to do with the trademark application and not sure what our plans are with it. The fact is we haven't decided yet.

    BunchBall and BigDoor have all used the word without ever contacting me, are spending money on Adwords for "Gamify" & "Gamification" using tag lines like "Gamify your site". I've never contacted a single one of them and said don't use that word.

    I encourage everyone to use the word, just not in a competing company or product name because that's confusing for everyone, like the brand name Gamify.TV that you own.

    Sorry if there has been any confusion in our intentions. In the future feel free to reach out to me directly.

    --

    Nathan Lands

    CEO & Co-Founder | Gamify, Inc.

    http://www.gamify.com

    San Francisco, CA

    • Simon Bostock - August 28, 2010 3:01 AM

      Nathan

      I think you're being naive to expect everyone to use the word and then somehow defer to your ownership of it as a brand name. This parses as, "Please talk about our company but we want to control the use of the actual word."

      As far as I can see, it's not that you *haven't* 'said a word' to Bunchball and Big Door about this (or Natron Baxter, or any of the other people who have actually launched products and services) - but that you *couldn't*, no?

      I started a project some months ago called 'Gameify' and, at some point, this will be turned into (part of) a business. But, in the meantime, I intend to be one of the most prominent commentators on the web on gameification.

      When I started it up, there didn't seem to be much about 'gameification' on the web (and it didn't even occur to me that there might be another way to spell it).

      But I was clear that there were - already - a number of competing interpretations of the word falling along a spectrum ranging, roughly, from Jane McGonigal's idea of game-ifying her recovery from illness (in Super-Better) to the hardcore game-mech/behaviour change people/marketers.

      I'm more interested in the former. And, frankly, I'm slightly worried by the latter (only very slightly, I'm a game geek and love the idea of playing with game mechanics - but I'm also aware of the potential for abuse).

      But this tension meant that I took it as read on registering the domain that the site/service would have to be *about* gameification rather than *the* gameification place. The concept, once out of the box, was far too big to put back in.

      I understand what you're saying and what you're trying to do. And why you're trying to do it - I wish you every success with your business.

      But you can't expect to trademark the name of an entire industry and expect everyone to be happy about it.

  • Simon Bostock - August 28, 2010 2:59 AM

    Nathan

    I think you're being naive to expect everyone to use the word and then somehow defer to your ownership of it as a brand name. This parses as, "Please talk about our company but we want to control the use of the actual word."

    As far as I can see, it's not that you *haven't* 'said a word' to Bunchball and Big Door about this (or Natron Baxter, or any of the other people who have actually launched products and services) - but that you *couldn't*, no?

    I started a project some months ago called 'Gameify' and, at some point, this will be turned into (part of) a business. But, in the meantime, I intend to be one of the most prominent commentators on the web on gameification.

    When I started it up, there didn't seem to be much about 'gameification' on the web (and it didn't even occur to me that there might be another way to spell it).

    But I was clear that there were - already - a number of competing interpretations of the word falling along a spectrum ranging, roughly, from Jane McGonigal's idea of game-ifying her recovery from illness (in Super-Better) to the hardcore game-mech/behaviour change people/marketers.

    I'm more interested in the former. And, frankly, I'm slightly worried by the latter (only very slightly, I'm a game geek and love the idea of playing with game mechanics - but I'm also aware of the potential for abuse).

    But this tension meant that I took it as read on registering the domain that the site/service would have to be *about* gameification rather than *the* gameification place. The concept, once out of the box, was far too big to put back in.

    I understand what you're saying and what you're trying to do. And why you're trying to do it - I wish you every success with your business.

    But you can't expect to trademark the name of an entire industry and expect everyone to be happy about it.

  • Simon Bostock - August 28, 2010 3:00 AM

    Nathan

    I think you're being naive to expect everyone to use the word and then somehow defer to your ownership of it as a brand name. This parses as, "Please talk about our company but we want to control the use of the actual word."

    As far as I can see, it's not that you *haven't* 'said a word' to Bunchball and Big Door about this (or Natron Baxter, or any of the other people who have actually launched products and services) - but that you *couldn't*, no?

    I started a project some months ago called 'Gameify' and, at some point, this will be turned into (part of) a business. But, in the meantime, I intend to be one of the most prominent commentators on the web on gameification.

    When I started it up, there didn't seem to be much about 'gameification' on the web (and it didn't even occur to me that there might be another way to spell it).

    But I was clear that there were - already - a number of competing interpretations of the word falling along a spectrum ranging, roughly, from Jane McGonigal's idea of game-ifying her recovery from illness (in Super-Better) to the hardcore game-mech/behaviour change people/marketers.

    I'm more interested in the former. And, frankly, I'm slightly worried by the latter (only very slightly, I'm a game geek and love the idea of playing with game mechanics - but I'm also aware of the potential for abuse).

    But this tension meant that I took it as read on registering the domain that the site/service would have to be *about* gameification rather than *the* gameification place. The concept, once out of the box, was far too big to put back in.

    I understand what you're saying and what you're trying to do. And why you're trying to do it - I wish you every success with your business.

    But you can't expect to trademark the name of an entire industry and expect everyone to be happy about it.

  • fred - February 6, 2011 2:56 PM

    Simon do you think Nathan is being naive?

  • fred - February 6, 2011 3:01 PM

    Simon do you think Nathan is being naive?

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    There seems to be some major confusion here and considering you have my contact info and we've talked before I would have assumed you would talk to me before hiring lawyers.

  • We’ve already talked to a number of other companies in the gamification space, and they have said that they will support our cause should this turn into a larger legal matter.

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    Like us, that are working hard to make the internet a fun, engaging and useful place for everyone.

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    Companies in the gamification space, and they have said that they will support our cause should this turn into a larger legal matter.

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  • autoasesor - December 31, 2015 2:54 PM

    Company own an idea that is so important to us and everyone else involved in gamifying online experiences.

  • limo Elizabeth - January 2, 2016 4:47 PM

    If it makes sense, we'll work with our lawyers to decide what to do with the trademark application and not sure what our plans are with it.

  • limo Elizabeth - January 2, 2016 4:47 PM

    If it makes sense, we'll work with our lawyers to decide what to do with the trademark application and not sure what our plans are with it.

  • limo Elizabeth - January 2, 2016 4:47 PM

    If it makes sense, we'll work with our lawyers to decide what to do with the trademark application and not sure what our plans are with it.

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  • Pay a Creative Writer - May 11, 2016 6:18 PM

    It is clear that you guys have a bone to pick with each other. We can only hope that you will resolve the matter amicably and void such future problems. It is interesting to note that when you guys are busy fighting over who owns the word "gamify", most of your clients don't care and all they want to do is to use the word freely.

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