March 5th Update: RetroGamingConsole.com responded to us, saying they are in the process of transferring the trademark to RetroPie. RetroPie confirmed this, saying that RGC will cancel their trademark. RetroPie is awaiting legal counsel on their end, but if the cancellation goes through, they will be filing for the U.S. trademark themselves.
RetroPie, a well-known provider of emulation software, has been hit with a false trademark recently and has taken to their website to ask their fans and users for help. The company put a notice up on Friday, explaining that a trademark had been filed in the United States without their knowledge (RetroPie is based in the UK). They also noted the person who made the trademark is selling RetroPie based machines on eBay, and that they had issued takedowns to other retailers selling RetroPie systems. Users on their forums uncovered that the trademark was linked to an unauthorized online store, RetroGamingConsole.com, which uses RetroPie’s name though does not ever credit them on the site. There is also an eBay seller with the same name.
The U.S. trademark was registered in December 2016 and classified under “video game accessories.” They also trademarked Emulation Station. It was filed by a man named Aditya Rawat. Dedicated fans of the emulation service took to Reddit to identify Rawat, believing he is a frequent user of RetroPie forums and the former pro. Users found the man’s GitHub, as well as his Twitter handle, which has since been locked. TechRaptor reached out to the man identified by the forums through his website. He forwarded our email to RetroGamingConsole in response, implying he was not related to the website. We also reached out to the attorney who represented the trademark. One Reddit user claims they interacted with Rawat on Twitter before he protected his account, and he claimed to not have anything to do with the trademark. TechRaptor has continued our investigation by contacting RetroGamingConsole directly (through Rawat’s directive) but have yet to receive an appropriate response.
Trademark fraud is nothing new in the United States, but it is also infamously difficult to prove in court. This is due to a precedent set that in order to prove fraud, the intent to deceive has to be proven. The rule was declared to protect filers from malicious claims; however, it has made it incredibly difficult to prove fraud claims at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Trademark Well says that only one fraud case has been successfully upheld by TTAB since 2009.
RetroPie told TechRaptor that they are investigating numerous options to combat the fraudulent trademark and has received an outpouring of support from the community over the issue. When they come to a decision or other outcome, they will release a public update.