Cocos2D is a Registered Trademark

On December 31, 2010, in cocos2d, by Steffen Itterheim

Cocos2D was filed as registered trademark on July 27th and published Dec 17th 2010. The trademark includes the phrase “cocos2d” as well as the Cocos2D logo, which is described as follows:

The mark consists of COCOS2D appearing on a black rectangular background, the term COCOS appears in white letters and 2D appears in orange letters, above the wording is a brown coconut with black and white eyes appearing on an orange rectangular background.

The color(s) orange, brown, black, white is/are claimed as a feature of the mark.

The translation “coconut” was also given as the english translation for “cocos”.

You can review the supplied documents here which contain additional details.

As far as I can tell, the trademark was filed only in the US. But it may be in review for other countries.

Thanks to MagnetiCat for bringing this to my attention.

What it means

I’m not a lawyer, so take this with a lot of salt.

Specifically to those doing business in the United States (where the trademark was filed) it means that you should refrain from offering or promoting services with the Cocos2D name or logo in it, otherwise you are subject to legal proceedings for trademark infringement. Since the trademark is currently registered only in the United States, legal prosecution will be difficult (not to mention costly) in other countries. As far as I know, trademark infringement claims must be filed in the country that an individual or company is doing business in, eg. where they have an office or employ a company representative.

Infringement may occur when one party, the “infringer”, uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers.

This means games using the Cocos2D logo should be fine, but game engines, and addon products to the Cocos2D game engine might be infringing the trademark if they continued to use the logo and name. Especially if “there is a likelihood of confusion that consumers will believe the products or services originated from the trademark owner”. Any Cocos2D port that wasn’t authorized and where the use of the Cocos2D name and logo are not consensual may be subject to legal action. It’s likely that, if they aren’t already, that development of Cocos2D engine ports and addon products now need to be strictly permitted, or refrain from using the Cocos2D trademark entirely.

As a website owner, you may also want to add a “not affiliated with or endorsed by” disclaimer on websites carrying the Cocos2D name or logo if you benefit from the trademark in any way (eg traffic) or if your content may be confused as originating from the trademark owner.

Note also that the use of a registered trademark must be controlled and enforced, otherwise one risks losing the trademark. So we can not expect things to just go on without change, because without controlling and enforcing the trademark there will be no trademark. This is troubling.

On the other hand, there’s the fair use doctrine in the United States, and furthermore there is the allowed Nominative Use of a trademark. Nominative use of a trademark is deemed if “The user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder. This applies even if the nominative use is commercial.” Hence the popular “no affiliation or endorsement” legal disclaimers.

I’m looking forward to an official statement about what will be seen as trademark infringement as well as what the accepted uses of the Cocos2D trademark are. The trademark registration brings with it a legal confusion that certainly the Indie game development community doesn’t want or need, especially not from a game engine that’s supposed to be “free and open source”.

What we need now is a Trademark FAQ like the one for Joomla to clarify the relevant issues.

Note: I’ve been asked if it’s necessary to add the (R) symbol to every use of Cocos2D or its logo. says no.

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4 Responses to “Cocos2D is a Registered Trademark”

  1. danieel says:

    nice, so now riq has protected by potentially bad guys.

    • The brand and logo were always protected by implied use, although one could argue that the use of Cocos2D for other products (engine ports mostly) was a neglect of controlling the trademark unless all of these uses were approved. That has to change now (otherwise there’s the risk of losing the trademark), so any use of Cocos2D and the logo in game engines now needs to be permitted by Ricardo, and any use of the word and logo on websites at the very least should avoid the impression of being affiliated with or endorsed by Cocos2D. At the moment the trademark registration is creating a legal insecurity for anyone who is using the Cocos2D term and logo in good faith, and who is a legal entity of the United States.

  2. […] Cocos2D is a registered trademark in the USA. Thus far, other developers have been allowed to create open source game engines based on Cocos2D’s design philosophy to use the Cocos2D name in their projects, but only if the project is and remains free and open source. The question here is if Zynga now owns the trademark and whether this policy will change. […]

  3. […] know that Ricardo is the trademark owner of “Cocos2D” and there has been a registration certificate issued on April 12th, […]