It Takes Two vs. Take-Two trademark dispute is a heartbreaking fiasco
It takes Take-Two to make a thing go wrong.
It takes one to know one, but it also takes at least two people at one of gaming’s biggest publishers to try and ruin a perfectly innocent video game. It Takes Two, the latest title from EA and enigmatic game director Josef Fares' Hazelight Studio, was met with critical acclaim upon its launch because of its novel take on cooperative gameplay play that was intrinsic to the game. Unfortunately, the title of this video game is now a point of contention and might change this Game of the Year contender forever.
What happened — On December 3, 2021, Eurogamer discovered that Hazelight Studios had to abandon the trademark for It Takes Two because of a trademark claim from Take-Two Interactive, the parent company behind several successful series like Grand Theft Auto, NBA 2K, and Kerbal Space Program.
Hazelight did not expand on the situation further, simply telling Eurogamer that it doesn't want to comment on an ongoing dispute but is "hopeful it will be resolved." Still, this means that Hazelight and EA don't officially own the trademark to It Takes Two's name, which is uncommon for such a notable and critically acclaimed game.
Why Take-Two is doing this — According to Eurogamer, Take-Two is very aggressive regarding trademarks. It has filed claims for many trademarks that reference words and phrases like civilization, mafia, social club, and rockstar.
This dispute is gaining more attention because it's within the game industry and over a very notable game. F-Squared Business Analyst Mike Futter discussed Take-Two's reasoning on Twitter, pointing out that these trademarks' similarity to Take-Two franchises and studios concerns the company.
"Take-Two isn't saying that Hazelight is infringing, but it doesn't want them to be able to protect the name (and put it out of TT's reach since it is so close to their company name)," he says. "Imagine if they wanted to make their company motto 'It's Take-Two.' That slogan might be too close to the game name, which would be protected. Take-Two isn't suing anyone, but it is objecting to trademarks that include or are close to its company and division names."
Still, "it takes two" is a colloquial phrase, so Take-Two's aggressiveness in this situation does seem like unnecessary overreaching, even if it's legally allowed.
What's next — If Hazelight or EA does want to make this a franchise, though, they might have to consider renaming it. Thankfully, the only current effect of this dispute is that Hazelight no longer owns the trademark to the It Takes Two game.
It Takes Two's title has not changed, and it is still available to purchase across all platforms.
"The trademark conflict means that Hazelight can't protect the name, not that they will be forced to change it," Futter explains. "They could change it if they want to protect the name, but honestly, it's probably not worth it to them to do that."
It remains to be seen if Take-Two and EA will take any further action, but right now, this is just a trademark dispute and not a full-on lawsuit or DMCA of It Takes Two. We’ve reached out to EA for a comment, and will update this article if we get a response.
It Takes Two is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.