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European Players Will Finally Get Trenched This September--Just Not Under That Name

Microsoft opts to rename the title 'Iron Brigade' in lieu of fighting a potentially costly trademark battle.

The long, painful battle between Microsoft and Portuguese board game maker Rui Alípio Monteiro over the European naming rights to Double Fine's downloadable mech combat game Trenched has finally come to an end.

Microsoft's head trademark legal adviser, shortly before his abdication of power.
Microsoft's head trademark legal adviser, shortly before his abdication of power.

Microsoft signaled the end of hostilities today in Cologne, Germany at the opening of Gamescom, announcing that its legal forces would recede back to American borders. Instead, Microsoft will release Trenched in Europe this September under a new name, Iron Brigade, effectively surrendering the trademark to the name Trenched (and all derivations thereof) to General Monteiro.

Europe has suffered mightily during this time of conflict, with thousands of players unable to purchase Double Fine's alternate history World War I mech combat tower defense shooter due to the conflict with Monteiro's trademark, which stems from his board game, titled Trench. His trademark effectively blocked any advance by Microsoft into major European territories. Ultimately, a direct legal assault must have appeared too costly to Microsoft, and instead, the publisher chose American exile for the Trenched name.

In the end, this war likely could have been avoided altogether had someone at Microsoft's legal team simply done their due diligence and investigated the trademark ahead of time. Instead, countless Euros were lost due to an error in judgment so massive, it altered the very fabric of a downloadable game's branding.

From the ashes of this conflict, we can only hope that Microsoft works diligently to rebuild that branding, so that European players may recognize that this new Iron Brigade is, in fact, that Trenched game they wanted to play like three months ago, but couldn't because of that whole trademark thing. A Herculean task, no doubt, but one that must be done with vigor and determination. Otherwise, substantial profits will assuredly be lost to the flames of war.

Alex Navarro on Google+