Soon the word “flappy” will have a different connotation altogether. Although the game that started it all has officially gone away, its legacy remains with sometimes ridiculous consequences. Now a company is trying to get game developers to drop their flappy names because it claims to own the trademark that it applied for just a month ago.
Ultimate Arcade, Inc. or UAI, is the company that’s now stirring up the flappy waters. A number of indie game developers who have games on Apple’s App Store using the name have received letters, via Apple’s legal department, informing them of their infringement. Either they drop the name or pay a licensing fee, which is probably what UAI prefers.
People trying to capitalize on the overnight sensation that was Flappy Bird is definitely not new, as the number of clones attest to. UAI is also not the first to have attempted to trademark the now popular name. UAI, however, is probably the first one to try to send out veiled legal threats to protect a trademark that they actually don’t own yet. In its defense, UAI says it has had a Flappy-titled avian-themed game existing years ago. It claims that Big Fish Games, a popular causal game studio, is a licensee even, though that is only half the truth. Big Fish does admit licensing Flappy, the game, from UAI five years ago, but that it is not exactly the same as licensing a trademark.
That fact, however, might weigh in favor of UAI’s trademark application. But an application is an application and not yet ownership. UAI only applied for the trademark at the height of Flappy Bird’s popularity only because it was afraid that people would be confused between the mobile game and a game barely anyone has heard of or remembers. This will definitely not be the last time we’ll hear of UAI and its bold claim, nor of the storm around the Flappy name. Oh, and yes, the Flappy Bird creator is set to return soon as well.