Trademark law is tricky business. A lot of gamers are familiar with cases where the trademark has managed to get some games delayed or held up from release, and when CD Projekt Red filed for the "Cyberpunk" trademark gamers were on edge.
CD Projekt Red has responded to the uproar over the filing, and they have responded to some of the criticisms surrounding the trademark filing. According to Polygon, CD Projekt stated...
We want to protect our hard work and we don't plan on using the trademark offensively - it's a self-defense measure only.
The trademark is for the upcoming open-world sci-fi RPG, Cyberpunk 2077.
The upcoming title is CD Projekt Red's next foray into AAA gaming following their trilogy of Witcher games. However, unlike The Witcher, which has an uncommon name, Cyberpunk 2077 is based on the pen and paper series by Mike Pondsmith called Cyberpunk 2020, and therefore they trademarked the word "Cyberpunk" in order to prevent any other derivative works from using the name in their titles.
This will essentially prevent copycats from making games like Cyberpunk 2025 or Cyberpunk: A Cyber Adventure. As mentioned by CD Projekt, they only plan on using the trademark in "self-defense" and not to offensively hound down other projects centered around the cyberpunk sub-genre.
Some people in the comment section brought up a really good example, mentioning whether or not a game like the visual novel VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action would be hit with the legal hammer? It's an observation from fans that went untouched by the legal experts in the comment section, and it's also a good question. What if they decide to make a VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action 2? Would CD Projekt Red hop to action and rigorously "defend" the "Cyberpunk" trademark?
As noted in the Polygon article, there are threads spanning far and wide across the internet expressing discontent with CD Projekt's choice to trademark the name.
Some people have recognized that they don't necessarily dislike CD Projekt for their choice, but dislike the system in which they've had to make said choice. A lot of people are generally saying that they don't hate CD Projekt Red as a player, but they hate the game that they have to play when it comes to the legal system surrounding trademarks.
This will be an interesting turn of events to see unfold over the years because cyberpunk and sci-fi have been highly popular lately, especially in the indie community and it does make you wonder if CD Projekt will have to "defend" the trademark against those projects.
I can only imagine cyberpunk -- as a genre -- growing in popularity as Cyberpunk 2077 nears release (and especially following its release). So, we will get to see if CD Projekt will stick to their word or if they'll get legally aggressive. The last time they tried to go the legal route with suing pirates for pirating the original Witcher, things didn't go over too well for them, but that was before they became the juggernaut studio that they are now.
Cyberpunk 2077 has no release date, but the game is currently in full production at CD Projekt Red.