On May 28, 2019, the band Iron Maiden, through their holding company, Iron Maiden Holdings Ltd., filed a $2 million trademark infringement lawsuit against video game developer 3D Realms Entertainment for its development of a first-person shooter video game called “Ion Maiden.” The suit alleges trademark infringement, false designation of origin or sponsorship, false advertising, trademark dilution, common law trade name and trade mark infringement, and unfair competition.
Iron Maiden Holdings’ complaint alleges that 3D Realms’ “Ion Maiden” is confusingly similar to the trademarked band name “IRON MAIDEN” and is an attempt to “take advantage of Iron Maiden’s worldwide recognition” to sell 3D Realms’ products. Iron Maiden Holdings’ complaint further asserts that the IRON MAIDEN trademark is famous and has acquired substantial and valuable trademark rights.
Iron Maiden Holdings is also the owner of the “IRON MAIDEN” trademark logo that has been used across memorabilia such as posters, clothing, and even computer games. The band has also registered notable trademarks in the US Patent and Trademark Office since 1984, including: U.S. Reg. No. 1,309,972 (for inclusion on paper or cardboard products, U.S. Reg. No. 1,307,146 (for clothing), and U.S. Reg. No. 1,308, 370 (for “Entertainment Services” such as live musical performances).
While 3D Realms has responded on Twitter indicating the claims in the complaint are frivolous, the Complaint at first blush at least makes out a plausible case. On the other hand, an “iron maiden” is an actual device (or at least hypothesized as such), so one of 3D Realms’ defenses will likely be reference to the actual “iron maiden” device as opposed to the band. After all, one cannot use trademark law to usurp a generic word or term as used to refer to the generic item. However, not having played the game Ion Maiden ourselves, we cannot comment on the legitimacy of such a defense.