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"Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring", is this true? Public data as of Early 2024 says no. FromSoftware has only been given the Trademark so far.

ggx2ac

Member
Expert
(They publish Dark Souls)
I have to make this "news" be its own thread since it was being discussed in the recent Bandai Namco earnings release thread to make sure that a later thread doesn't appear saying the wrong information.

A poster in that earnings thread referenced a thread from Resetera regarding this news: https://www.resetera.com/threads/it...f-elden-ring-ip-since-24th-april-2023.817356/

That resetera thread is titled: "It seems From Software is now the sole owner of Elden ring IP since 24th April 2023"

In the OP of that thread, the OP posted images and links showing that the Trademark for Elden Ring has changed ownership from Bandai Namco to FromSoftware. And then they posted the following resetera thread: https://www.resetera.com/threads/te...-kadokawa-remain-majority-shareholder.626374/

And then the OP said the following: "FS got investement from SIE and Tencent in August 2022 to help them self published"

A Reminder about Trademarks:

The OP of that resetera thread has claimed in their thread title that, "It seems From Software is now the sole owner of Elden ring IP since 24th April 2023" and posted trademarks. What is a Trademark? It's like a patent where you indicate to the trademark office that you're planning to release a product of some class in their country or region (there are international trademarks registrations that simplify registering the trademark in many countries). If a competitor released a game on some platform called, "Elden Ring 2" and they did not own the Trademark for Elden Ring, FromSoftware would have to take that competitor to court for trademark infringement to protect their IP. If the competitor only infringed on the Trademark and did not use any assets or other IP such as characters from the actual Elden Ring game released in 2022, then they won't also be sued for copyright infringement.

Now you, the viewer of this thread might be thinking, "The OP from that resetera thread hasn't said anything wrong, if FromSoftware has the trademark then it's correct what that OP said, that FromSoftware can now self-publish the game", except the problem is that their thread title said that FromSoftware "is now the sole owner of the Elden Ring IP". I've looked through the posts in that thread and the reactions from posters are that they really think that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

What about the Copyright?

When I saw that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring" and looked at the resetera thread mentioned, my first thought was, "Who owns the copyright?"

The first thing I did was, "What is on the title screen?". I'm linking from YouTube a video of the title screen from 2022:


You the viewer reacts, "That's before April 2023!", correct. I was first confirming the copyright. Let's look at other sources.

Steam page:

Steam page says: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

Japanese PlayStation Store page: https://store.playstation.com/ja-jp/product/JP0506-PPSA03169_00-2465683171993968

Japanese PlayStation Store page says: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

Before you comment on the obvious, let's first read what it is saying. It says in "English": "Elden Ring trademark and copyright Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. SLASH copyright FromSoftware, Inc"

What does this mean? It is saying, Bandai Namco own the trademark and copyright, while FromSoftware owns the copyright.

You react, "They both own the copyright?" Yes, it is possible for multiple companies and/or persons to have co-ownership of a copyright. What are the implications of that? We'll get to it later.

You also would have noticed then that the Intellectual Property information on Steam and the PlayStation Store is out of date because it says Bandai Namco owns the Trademark when they are no longer the trademark owner.

Where else can we find up-to-date IP info? I then went to the official website of FromSoftware, I scrolled down the bottom of this page which listed copyright info for each title, but it doesn't list every title: https://www.fromsoftware.jp/ww/products.html

I then went to the page for Elden Ring and didn't find any copyright notices: https://www.fromsoftware.jp/ww/detail.html?csm=105

Then I went to the Elden Ring JP Official Site it listed: https://www.eldenring.jp/index.html

I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and found: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. / ©2024 FromSoftware, Inc."

I then checked the Wayback Machine to find out what it said back in March 2022: https://web.archive.org/web/20220302160754/https://www.eldenring.jp/index.html

I scrolled down to the bottom of that page and found: "©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

I need to remind you that you should not assume that this is how you find copyright notices for everything. Here is a Bandai Namco Entertainment website showing Elden Ring: https://eldenring.bn-ent.net/en/

If you scroll to the bottom of that page, you will find: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.". Be careful if you do that, you need to scroll up a bit inside the Elden Ring page and you will see: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2021 FromSoftware, Inc."

You're probably wondering, "How can we be sure that copyright mentioned on the official Elden Ring JP website is for the actual game and not the website?"

Here's two Elden Ring videos to show you.
From the FromSoftware YouTube channel of TV Commercial 1 for Elden Ring:


You will see it says, "©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc." which is consistent with the Elden Ring JP official website on the wayback machine.

The other video is from the Bandai Namco Europe channel of the Elden Ring launch trailer:


"ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc." is found at the bottom of the screen.

After all this, you're probably wondering, "Who owns the trademark for Elden Ring in Japan?". It's FromSoftware, they own it since they applied for the trademark in 2019. Here is the link to the Japanese trademark found through the Japan Patent Office website: https://www.j-platpat.inpit.go.jp/c...EF4B1C1FE2A0A9DD04CFCE8F8BF522ACA29A45F/40/ja

What are the implications of Bandai Namco and FromSoftware having co-ownership of the copyright?

First of all, it doesn't mean that Bandai Namco "No longer owns Elden Ring". We do not know anything behind the scenes if FromSoftware is going to take the copyright form Bandai Namco. I also showed you the official Elden Ring JP website and, it shows that From Software updated the year of their copyright to 2024 but have not removed Bandai Namco's copyright.

Instead of speculating, let's talk about real-world examples of trademark and copyright usage in games.

Sega owns the trademark for Bayonetta: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502008077444642
Sega also owns the trademark for Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502023079367864

Sega owns the copyright for Bayonetta 1.
Sega and Nintendo have co-ownership of the copyright for Bayonetta 2 and 3 and Bayonetta Origins.

What does this mean? If Sega wanted to port Bayonetta 2 and 3 to PC or other consoles, they would need to get permission from Nintendo. If they do not get permission and do it anyway, Nintendo could take them to court and get the game removed from storefronts. Of course, Sega wouldn't be stupid to spend money porting the games to then get sued.

Sega can make a Bayonetta 4 without Nintendo, as long as it doesn't use any copyrighted material from Bayonetta 2 and 3. If it does, they need to get permission from Nintendo to use those copyrighted materials in Bayonetta 4.

If Nintendo wanted to make Bayonetta 4, obviously they need to get permission from Sega to use their copyright to use their materials and to use their trademark to call the game Bayonetta 4.

Here's another example.

Natsume owns the trademark for Harvest Moon, they do not own any of the copyrighted materials that belong to Marvelous from the game series, "Story of Seasons".

You have seen Natsume release a bunch of Harvest Moon titles on the Switch and other consoles recently, they are new titles. Not the ones you are familiar with on past consoles, that is because they don't own the copyright to re-release the old games onto new consoles.

You will see that Natsume's current Harvest Moon games look nothing like the Story of Seasons games from Marvelous. If they used any copyrighted materials such as the "iconic look" of the cows from Story of Seasons, Marvelous would be taking them to court for copyright infringement.

Lastly, let's talk about The Wonderful 101.

We know that Nintendo transferred the copyright of The Wonderful 101 to Platinum Games. Nintendo no longer owns the copyright for The Wonderful 101. Here's the weird thing, Nintendo still owns the Trademark of The Wonderful 101 in some regions.

In the US, Nintendo still owns the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502012085727861
In Japan, Nintendo still owns the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/JP502012000073411

However, in Canada and some other countries, you will find PlatinumGames owning the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/CA502013001612784

What does that mean? If PlatinumGames wanted to do a port of The Wonderful 101 on... Google Stadia, they would need to get permission from Nintendo to be allowed to use The Wonderful 101 trademark in the US and Japanese releases of The Wonderful 101 on Google Stadia. If they don't get permission, they would have to change the name of the title for those regions from The Wonderful 101 to... anything else not trademarked. There are past examples of this, where Nintendo couldn't trademark Star Fox in Europe so the Star Fox SNES game in Europe was called Starwing and then Star Fox 64 was called Lylat Wars.

Conclusion

At this point in time, we do not know if FromSoftware is planning to become the "sole owner of the Elden Ring IP", why have they taken the overseas trademark for Elden Ring? I don't know their reasons; they already owned the Elden Ring trademark in Japan. FromSoftware also own the Armored Core trademark overseas despite Bandai Namco and FromSoftware having copyright co-ownership of the game Armored Core 6.

If you're thinking, "It's to self-publish Elden Ring in the West!". Ok, they can now self-publish Elden Ring in the West, they still have to get permission from Bandai Namco who has co-ownership of the copyright. That doesn't match up with, "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

Regarding the resetera thread I used as the premise of this thread because it was posted in the Bandai Namco earnings thread. I do not know who the original source of this information is. If you try to Google search "From Software sole owner Elden Ring IP", you will see that this "news" about FromSoftware being the sole owner of the Elden Ring IP has spread everywhere to gaming outlets.

Some of those gaming outlets are correctly saying that it's a trademark, but they're still coming to the wrong conclusion by saying that "FromSoftware is now the sole owner of Elden Ring" because of this change of trademark ownership while ignoring the copyright co-ownership.
 
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Very good analysis, I've seen this bubbling up on discords and social media and it's nice to see a thorough investigation of the copyrights and trademarks and what exactly that means.

From getting the US trademarks changed alone is still huge news honestly, I'm super curious what the impetus could be for Bamco letting this go? I wonder if From might reacquire fuller western rights to Dark Souls down the line too? Or if they might pursue their Sony properties (Demon's Souls, Bloodborne, Deracine)?
 
I'm super curious what the impetus could be for Bamco letting this go?
Probably see keeping good relations with From Software more important than full ownership (similar to Nintendo/Koei-Tecmo for the Wii / Wii U Fatal Frame games).
 
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FromSoftware should do anything to regain full rights, they are so massive right now that they can handle a lot more weight.
 
Probably see keeping good relations with From Software more than important than full ownership (similar to Nintendo and the Wii / Wii U Fatal Frame games).
Sure but we're talking about a 20,000,000 seller versus a 200,000 one, lol.

I do agree Bamco wants to keep good relations with From, they're also a large stakeholder in Kadokawa, but I wonder if shifting more ownership to From might be a trade off to continue the publishing arrangement instead (like they do with Ninokuni) rather than move away from that like most are speculating. From getting more ownership without taking over western publishing still gives them some benefit in terms of control of the ER IP generally, for projects with other partners like mobile games (Tencent) or film/media production (Sony).
 
Thanks for this because the misinformed is spreading rather fast... I encountered this on MaximilianDoods video for the Xbox podcast for example.
 
Regarding the resetera thread I used as the premise of this thread because it was posted in the Bandai Namco earnings thread. I do not know who the original source of this information is. If you try to Google search "From Software sole owner Elden Ring IP", you will see that this "news" about FromSoftware being the sole owner of the Elden Ring IP has spread everywhere to gaming outlets.
Thanks for this because the misinformed is spreading rather fast... I encountered this on MaximilianDoods video for the Xbox podcast for example.

Quoting myself here. It is no exaggeration that the "news" about "FromSoftware is now the sole owner of Elden Ring IP" had spread fast, I mentioned I did a Google search and I found 12 different outlets (not counting gaming forums) on the first page of search results reporting that "news".
 
I have to make this "news" be its own thread since it was being discussed in the recent Bandai Namco earnings release thread to make sure that a later thread doesn't appear saying the wrong information.

A poster in that earnings thread referenced a thread from Resetera regarding this news: https://www.resetera.com/threads/it...f-elden-ring-ip-since-24th-april-2023.817356/

That resetera thread is titled: "It seems From Software is now the sole owner of Elden ring IP since 24th April 2023"

In the OP of that thread, the OP posted images and links showing that the Trademark for Elden Ring has changed ownership from Bandai Namco to FromSoftware. And then they posted the following resetera thread: https://www.resetera.com/threads/te...-kadokawa-remain-majority-shareholder.626374/

And then the OP said the following: "FS got investement from SIE and Tencent in August 2022 to help them self published"

A Reminder about Trademarks:

The OP of that resetera thread has claimed in their thread title that, "It seems From Software is now the sole owner of Elden ring IP since 24th April 2023" and posted trademarks. What is a Trademark? It's like a patent where you indicate to the trademark office that you're planning to release a product of some class in their country or region (there are international trademarks registrations that simplify registering the trademark in many countries). If a competitor released a game on some platform called, "Elden Ring 2" and they did not own the Trademark for Elden Ring, FromSoftware would have to take that competitor to court for trademark infringement to protect their IP. If the competitor only infringed on the Trademark and did not use any assets or other IP such as characters from the actual Elden Ring game released in 2022, then they won't also be sued for copyright infringement.

Now you, the viewer of this thread might be thinking, "The OP from that resetera thread hasn't said anything wrong, if FromSoftware has the trademark then it's correct what that OP said, that FromSoftware can now self-publish the game", except the problem is that their thread title said that FromSoftware "is now the sole owner of the Elden Ring IP". I've looked through the posts in that thread and the reactions from posters are that they really think that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

What about the Copyright?

When I saw that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring" and looked at the resetera thread mentioned, my first thought was, "Who owns the copyright?"

The first thing I did was, "What is on the title screen?". I'm linking from YouTube a video of the title screen from 2022:


You the viewer reacts, "That's before April 2023!", correct. I was first confirming the copyright. Let's look at other sources.

Steam page:

Steam page says: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

Japanese PlayStation Store page: https://store.playstation.com/ja-jp/product/JP0506-PPSA03169_00-2465683171993968

Japanese PlayStation Store page says: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

Before you comment on the obvious, let's first read what it is saying. It says in "English": "Elden Ring trademark and copyright Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. SLASH copyright FromSoftware, Inc"

What does this mean? It is saying, Bandai Namco own the trademark and copyright, while FromSoftware owns the copyright.

You react, "They both own the copyright?" Yes, it is possible for multiple companies and/or persons to have co-ownership of a copyright. What are the implications of that? We'll get to it later.

You also would have noticed then that the Intellectual Property information on Steam and the PlayStation Store is out of date because it says Bandai Namco owns the Trademark when they are no longer the trademark owner.

Where else can we find up-to-date IP info? I then went to the official website of FromSoftware, I scrolled down the bottom of this page which listed copyright info for each title, but it doesn't list every title: https://www.fromsoftware.jp/ww/products.html

I then went to the page for Elden Ring and didn't find any copyright notices: https://www.fromsoftware.jp/ww/detail.html?csm=105

Then I went to the Elden Ring JP Official Site it listed: https://www.eldenring.jp/index.html

I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and found: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. / ©2024 FromSoftware, Inc."

I then checked the Wayback Machine to find out what it said back in March 2022: https://web.archive.org/web/20220302160754/https://www.eldenring.jp/index.html

I scrolled down to the bottom of that page and found: "©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

I need to remind you that you should not assume that this is how you find copyright notices for everything. Here is a Bandai Namco Entertainment website showing Elden Ring: https://eldenring.bn-ent.net/en/

If you scroll to the bottom of that page, you will find: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.". Be careful if you do that, you need to scroll up a bit inside the Elden Ring page and you will see: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2021 FromSoftware, Inc."

You're probably wondering, "How can we be sure that copyright mentioned on the official Elden Ring JP website is for the actual game and not the website?"

Here's two Elden Ring videos to show you.
From the FromSoftware YouTube channel of TV Commercial 1 for Elden Ring:


You will see it says, "©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc." which is consistent with the Elden Ring JP official website on the wayback machine.

The other video is from the Bandai Namco Europe channel of the Elden Ring launch trailer:


"ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc." is found at the bottom of the screen.

After all this, you're probably wondering, "Who owns the trademark for Elden Ring in Japan?". It's FromSoftware, they own it since they applied for the trademark in 2019. Here is the link to the Japanese trademark found through the Japan Patent Office website: https://www.j-platpat.inpit.go.jp/c...EF4B1C1FE2A0A9DD04CFCE8F8BF522ACA29A45F/40/ja

What are the implications of Bandai Namco and FromSoftware having co-ownership of the copyright?

First of all, it doesn't mean that Bandai Namco "No longer owns Elden Ring". We do not know anything behind the scenes if FromSoftware is going to take the copyright form Bandai Namco. I also showed you the official Elden Ring JP website and, it shows that From Software updated the year of their copyright to 2024 but have not removed Bandai Namco's copyright.

Instead of speculating, let's talk about real-world examples of trademark and copyright usage in games.

Sega owns the trademark for Bayonetta: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502008077444642
Sega also owns the trademark for Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502023079367864

Sega owns the copyright for Bayonetta 1.
Sega and Nintendo have co-ownership of the copyright for Bayonetta 2 and 3 and Bayonetta Origins.

What does this mean? If Sega wanted to port Bayonetta 2 and 3 to PC or other consoles, they would need to get permission from Nintendo. If they do not get permission and do it anyway, Nintendo could take them to court and get the game removed from storefronts. Of course, Sega wouldn't be stupid to spend money porting the games to then get sued.

Sega can make a Bayonetta 4 without Nintendo, as long as it doesn't use any copyrighted material from Bayonetta 2 and 3. If it does, they need to get permission from Nintendo to use those copyrighted materials in Bayonetta 4.

If Nintendo wanted to make Bayonetta 4, obviously they need to get permission from Sega to use their copyright to use their materials and to use their trademark to call the game Bayonetta 4.

Here's another example.

Natsume owns the trademark for Harvest Moon, they do not own any of the copyrighted materials that belong to Marvelous from the game series, "Story of Seasons".

You have seen Natsume release a bunch of Harvest Moon titles on the Switch and other consoles recently, they are new titles. Not the ones you are familiar with on past consoles, that is because they don't own the copyright to re-release the old games onto new consoles.

You will see that Natsume's current Harvest Moon games look nothing like the Story of Seasons games from Marvelous. If they used any copyrighted materials such as the "iconic look" of the cows from Story of Seasons, Marvelous would be taking them to court for copyright infringement.

Lastly, let's talk about The Wonderful 101.

We know that Nintendo transferred the copyright of The Wonderful 101 to Platinum Games. Nintendo no longer owns the copyright for The Wonderful 101. Here's the weird thing, Nintendo still owns the Trademark of The Wonderful 101 in some regions.

In the US, Nintendo still owns the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502012085727861
In Japan, Nintendo still owns the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/JP502012000073411

However, in Canada and some other countries, you will find PlatinumGames owning the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/CA502013001612784

What does that mean? If PlatinumGames wanted to do a port of The Wonderful 101 on... Google Stadia, they would need to get permission from Nintendo to be allowed to use The Wonderful 101 trademark in the US and Japanese releases of The Wonderful 101 on Google Stadia. If they don't get permission, they would have to change the name of the title for those regions from The Wonderful 101 to... anything else not trademarked. There are past examples of this, where Nintendo couldn't trademark Star Fox in Europe so the Star Fox SNES game in Europe was called Starwing and then Star Fox 64 was called Lylat Wars.

Conclusion

At this point in time, we do not know if FromSoftware is planning to become the "sole owner of the Elden Ring IP", why have they taken the overseas trademark for Elden Ring? I don't know their reasons; they already owned the Elden Ring trademark in Japan. FromSoftware also own the Armored Core trademark overseas despite Bandai Namco and FromSoftware having copyright co-ownership of the game Armored Core 6.

If you're thinking, "It's to self-publish Elden Ring in the West!". Ok, they can now self-publish Elden Ring in the West, they still have to get permission from Bandai Namco who has co-ownership of the copyright. That doesn't match up with, "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

Regarding the resetera thread I used as the premise of this thread because it was posted in the Bandai Namco earnings thread. I do not know who the original source of this information is. If you try to Google search "From Software sole owner Elden Ring IP", you will see that this "news" about FromSoftware being the sole owner of the Elden Ring IP has spread everywhere to gaming outlets.

Some of those gaming outlets are correctly saying that it's a trademark, but they're still coming to the wrong conclusion by saying that "FromSoftware is now the sole owner of Elden Ring" because of this change of trademark ownership while ignoring the copyright co-ownership.


Excellent work! Reading through all of that was very insightful.
 
I have to make this "news" be its own thread since it was being discussed in the recent Bandai Namco earnings release thread to make sure that a later thread doesn't appear saying the wrong information.

A poster in that earnings thread referenced a thread from Resetera regarding this news: https://www.resetera.com/threads/it...f-elden-ring-ip-since-24th-april-2023.817356/

That resetera thread is titled: "It seems From Software is now the sole owner of Elden ring IP since 24th April 2023"

In the OP of that thread, the OP posted images and links showing that the Trademark for Elden Ring has changed ownership from Bandai Namco to FromSoftware. And then they posted the following resetera thread: https://www.resetera.com/threads/te...-kadokawa-remain-majority-shareholder.626374/

And then the OP said the following: "FS got investement from SIE and Tencent in August 2022 to help them self published"

A Reminder about Trademarks:

The OP of that resetera thread has claimed in their thread title that, "It seems From Software is now the sole owner of Elden ring IP since 24th April 2023" and posted trademarks. What is a Trademark? It's like a patent where you indicate to the trademark office that you're planning to release a product of some class in their country or region (there are international trademarks registrations that simplify registering the trademark in many countries). If a competitor released a game on some platform called, "Elden Ring 2" and they did not own the Trademark for Elden Ring, FromSoftware would have to take that competitor to court for trademark infringement to protect their IP. If the competitor only infringed on the Trademark and did not use any assets or other IP such as characters from the actual Elden Ring game released in 2022, then they won't also be sued for copyright infringement.

Now you, the viewer of this thread might be thinking, "The OP from that resetera thread hasn't said anything wrong, if FromSoftware has the trademark then it's correct what that OP said, that FromSoftware can now self-publish the game", except the problem is that their thread title said that FromSoftware "is now the sole owner of the Elden Ring IP". I've looked through the posts in that thread and the reactions from posters are that they really think that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

What about the Copyright?

When I saw that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring" and looked at the resetera thread mentioned, my first thought was, "Who owns the copyright?"

The first thing I did was, "What is on the title screen?". I'm linking from YouTube a video of the title screen from 2022:


You the viewer reacts, "That's before April 2023!", correct. I was first confirming the copyright. Let's look at other sources.

Steam page:

Steam page says: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

Japanese PlayStation Store page: https://store.playstation.com/ja-jp/product/JP0506-PPSA03169_00-2465683171993968

Japanese PlayStation Store page says: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

Before you comment on the obvious, let's first read what it is saying. It says in "English": "Elden Ring trademark and copyright Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. SLASH copyright FromSoftware, Inc"

What does this mean? It is saying, Bandai Namco own the trademark and copyright, while FromSoftware owns the copyright.

You react, "They both own the copyright?" Yes, it is possible for multiple companies and/or persons to have co-ownership of a copyright. What are the implications of that? We'll get to it later.

You also would have noticed then that the Intellectual Property information on Steam and the PlayStation Store is out of date because it says Bandai Namco owns the Trademark when they are no longer the trademark owner.

Where else can we find up-to-date IP info? I then went to the official website of FromSoftware, I scrolled down the bottom of this page which listed copyright info for each title, but it doesn't list every title: https://www.fromsoftware.jp/ww/products.html

I then went to the page for Elden Ring and didn't find any copyright notices: https://www.fromsoftware.jp/ww/detail.html?csm=105

Then I went to the Elden Ring JP Official Site it listed: https://www.eldenring.jp/index.html

I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and found: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. / ©2024 FromSoftware, Inc."

I then checked the Wayback Machine to find out what it said back in March 2022: https://web.archive.org/web/20220302160754/https://www.eldenring.jp/index.html

I scrolled down to the bottom of that page and found: "©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc."

I need to remind you that you should not assume that this is how you find copyright notices for everything. Here is a Bandai Namco Entertainment website showing Elden Ring: https://eldenring.bn-ent.net/en/

If you scroll to the bottom of that page, you will find: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.". Be careful if you do that, you need to scroll up a bit inside the Elden Ring page and you will see: "ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2021 FromSoftware, Inc."

You're probably wondering, "How can we be sure that copyright mentioned on the official Elden Ring JP website is for the actual game and not the website?"

Here's two Elden Ring videos to show you.
From the FromSoftware YouTube channel of TV Commercial 1 for Elden Ring:


You will see it says, "©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc." which is consistent with the Elden Ring JP official website on the wayback machine.

The other video is from the Bandai Namco Europe channel of the Elden Ring launch trailer:


"ELDEN RING™ & ©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2022 FromSoftware, Inc." is found at the bottom of the screen.

After all this, you're probably wondering, "Who owns the trademark for Elden Ring in Japan?". It's FromSoftware, they own it since they applied for the trademark in 2019. Here is the link to the Japanese trademark found through the Japan Patent Office website: https://www.j-platpat.inpit.go.jp/c...EF4B1C1FE2A0A9DD04CFCE8F8BF522ACA29A45F/40/ja

What are the implications of Bandai Namco and FromSoftware having co-ownership of the copyright?

First of all, it doesn't mean that Bandai Namco "No longer owns Elden Ring". We do not know anything behind the scenes if FromSoftware is going to take the copyright form Bandai Namco. I also showed you the official Elden Ring JP website and, it shows that From Software updated the year of their copyright to 2024 but have not removed Bandai Namco's copyright.

Instead of speculating, let's talk about real-world examples of trademark and copyright usage in games.

Sega owns the trademark for Bayonetta: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502008077444642
Sega also owns the trademark for Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502023079367864

Sega owns the copyright for Bayonetta 1.
Sega and Nintendo have co-ownership of the copyright for Bayonetta 2 and 3 and Bayonetta Origins.

What does this mean? If Sega wanted to port Bayonetta 2 and 3 to PC or other consoles, they would need to get permission from Nintendo. If they do not get permission and do it anyway, Nintendo could take them to court and get the game removed from storefronts. Of course, Sega wouldn't be stupid to spend money porting the games to then get sued.

Sega can make a Bayonetta 4 without Nintendo, as long as it doesn't use any copyrighted material from Bayonetta 2 and 3. If it does, they need to get permission from Nintendo to use those copyrighted materials in Bayonetta 4.

If Nintendo wanted to make Bayonetta 4, obviously they need to get permission from Sega to use their copyright to use their materials and to use their trademark to call the game Bayonetta 4.

Here's another example.

Natsume owns the trademark for Harvest Moon, they do not own any of the copyrighted materials that belong to Marvelous from the game series, "Story of Seasons".

You have seen Natsume release a bunch of Harvest Moon titles on the Switch and other consoles recently, they are new titles. Not the ones you are familiar with on past consoles, that is because they don't own the copyright to re-release the old games onto new consoles.

You will see that Natsume's current Harvest Moon games look nothing like the Story of Seasons games from Marvelous. If they used any copyrighted materials such as the "iconic look" of the cows from Story of Seasons, Marvelous would be taking them to court for copyright infringement.

Lastly, let's talk about The Wonderful 101.

We know that Nintendo transferred the copyright of The Wonderful 101 to Platinum Games. Nintendo no longer owns the copyright for The Wonderful 101. Here's the weird thing, Nintendo still owns the Trademark of The Wonderful 101 in some regions.

In the US, Nintendo still owns the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/US502012085727861
In Japan, Nintendo still owns the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/JP502012000073411

However, in Canada and some other countries, you will find PlatinumGames owning the trademark: https://branddb.wipo.int/en/brand/CA502013001612784

What does that mean? If PlatinumGames wanted to do a port of The Wonderful 101 on... Google Stadia, they would need to get permission from Nintendo to be allowed to use The Wonderful 101 trademark in the US and Japanese releases of The Wonderful 101 on Google Stadia. If they don't get permission, they would have to change the name of the title for those regions from The Wonderful 101 to... anything else not trademarked. There are past examples of this, where Nintendo couldn't trademark Star Fox in Europe so the Star Fox SNES game in Europe was called Starwing and then Star Fox 64 was called Lylat Wars.

Conclusion

At this point in time, we do not know if FromSoftware is planning to become the "sole owner of the Elden Ring IP", why have they taken the overseas trademark for Elden Ring? I don't know their reasons; they already owned the Elden Ring trademark in Japan. FromSoftware also own the Armored Core trademark overseas despite Bandai Namco and FromSoftware having copyright co-ownership of the game Armored Core 6.

If you're thinking, "It's to self-publish Elden Ring in the West!". Ok, they can now self-publish Elden Ring in the West, they still have to get permission from Bandai Namco who has co-ownership of the copyright. That doesn't match up with, "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

Regarding the resetera thread I used as the premise of this thread because it was posted in the Bandai Namco earnings thread. I do not know who the original source of this information is. If you try to Google search "From Software sole owner Elden Ring IP", you will see that this "news" about FromSoftware being the sole owner of the Elden Ring IP has spread everywhere to gaming outlets.

Some of those gaming outlets are correctly saying that it's a trademark, but they're still coming to the wrong conclusion by saying that "FromSoftware is now the sole owner of Elden Ring" because of this change of trademark ownership while ignoring the copyright co-ownership.

Based on what you wrote, doesn't From's owning the trademark mean that they can do an Elden Ring 2 without asking for BN's permission as long as they don't use the previous game's assets?

As to From being allowed to use in an Elden Ring 2 characters from OG Elden Ring - Nintendo for example shares with Sega copyright on Bayonetta 2 and 3 - does that prevent Sega from creating a Bayonetta 4 using characters from Bayonetta 2 and 3, including Bayonetta herself?
 
Based on what you wrote, doesn't From's owning the trademark mean that they can do an Elden Ring 2 without asking for BN's permission as long as they don't use the previous game's assets?

As to From being allowed to use in an Elden Ring 2 characters from OG Elden Ring - Nintendo for example shares with Sega copyright on Bayonetta 2 and 3 - does that prevent Sega from creating a Bayonetta 4 using characters from Bayonetta 2 and 3, including Bayonetta herself?

Regarding the first question, I don't see the benefit of doing that when they could just purchase the copyright from Bandai Namco or just make a new IP that doesn't involve any joint ownership with anyone.

This stuff can get so complicated, meanwhile, look at the Demon's Souls Remake. Sony didn't need any permission from FromSoftware for it because Sony is the sole owner of the copyright and Sony got Bluepoint Games to develop the remake.

Regarding the second question. I don't know since we don't know what they agreed to. We seriously need a Copyright lawyer (not Bing AI) in here to explain the differences between the following copyright statements: "© A / © B", "© A © B", and "© A / B".

You've seen the first kind of statement: "©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / ©2024 FromSoftware, Inc."

The second kind of statement is seen in the games Bayonetta 2 and 3 below.

The third kind of statement is seen in Super Mario RPG for the Switch and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate seen below the Bayonetta games.

And then, you'll have noticed, "Isn't it nice when the copyright notices are not ambiguous?" You asked about whether SEGA can use the characters of Bayonetta in Bayonetta 2 and 3 in their own game called Bayonetta 4 without Nintendo's permission? Look at the copyright statements below for Super Mario RPG, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Tetris 99 for how they're not ambiguous about who holds the copyright for the characters or other details.

Without knowing what specific things Nintendo holds copyright over regarding Bayonetta 2, 3 and Origins. Maybe SEGA still has sole copyright ownership of any characters made in any Bayonetta game since we know that Nintendo can't go and make their own Bayonetta game using the Bayonetta 2 version of Bayonetta. But then, you're going to wonder what Nintendo has copyright ownership of?

Bayonetta 1 Switch version, intellectual property notices:
© SEGA Published by Nintendo
Trademarks are property of their respective owners. Nintendo Switch is a trademark of Nintendo.

Bayonetta 2 Switch version, intellectual property notices:
© 2014-2018 Nintendo © SEGA Published by Nintendo
Trademarks are property of their respective owners. Nintendo Switch is a trademark of Nintendo.

Bayonetta 3 Switch version, intellectual property notices:
© Nintendo © SEGA Published by Nintendo
Nintendo, SEGA and PlatinumGames are the authors of this software for the purpose of copyright. All rights reserved.

Super Mario RPG Switch version, intellectual property notices:
© Nintendo/SQUARE ENIX
Characters: © Nintendo, © SQUARE ENIX
Nintendo and ArtePiazza are the authors of this software for the purpose of copyright. All rights reserved.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, intellectual property notices:
© 2018 Nintendo
Original Game: © Nintendo / HAL Laboratory, Inc.
Characters: © Nintendo / HAL Laboratory, Inc. / Pokémon. / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc. / SHIGESATO ITOI / APE inc. / INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS / Konami Digital Entertainment / SEGA / CAPCOM CO., LTD. / BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. / MONOLITHSOFT / CAPCOM U.S.A., INC. / SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. / ATLUS / Microsoft / SNK CORPORATION. / Mojang AB / Disney
Trademarks are property of their respective owners. Nintendo Switch is a trademark of Nintendo.

Tetris 99, intellectual property notices:
Tetris® & © 1985-2019 Tetris Holding.
Tetris logos, Tetris theme song and Tetriminos are trademarks of Tetris Holding.
The Tetris trade dress is owned by Tetris Holding.
Licensed to The Tetris Company.
Tetris Game Design by Alexey Pajitnov.
Tetris Logo Design by Roger Dean.
All Rights Reserved.
Sub-licensed to Nintendo.
Certain new content developed by Nintendo, and any characters, sounds and video games originally owned by Nintendo: © 2019 Nintendo.
 
I am astounded at what has unfolded.

These are one of the articles I saw shortly after creating this thread:

To note, there was nothing wrong with the article compared to other ones. They correctly stated that trademark ownership changed from Bandai Namco to FromSoftware. They did not make any conclusion such as, "Bandai Namco no longer has ownership of the Elden Ring IP" like I saw in some other articles.

Now, I find out an update appeared on the article. Here's the update:
UPDATE
The trademark transfer appears to cover the game’s name only. Hoeg Law attorney Richard Hoeg told VGC that it would not be a transfer of what we think of as the game itself (although this could have occurred separately). The transfer of an IP like Elden Ring (which is copywrite protected) would be done by contract and not necessarily require a public registration, he said.

Please note, I have copy and pasted their quote from the article which says "copywrite" in it which I'm sure is a typo and that they're meant to say "copyright".

Now, the first line of the quote says: "The trademark transfer appears to cover the game’s name only."

This is why I am astounded, I thought they knew what a trademark was because they didn't make any glaring errors in their article. Are you telling me they wrote an article about a change of trademark ownership without knowing what a trademark does!?
 
Elden Ring DLC copyright
Getting this out of the way because out there, people had speculated if the change of trademark ownership affected the Elden Ring Shadow of The Erdtree DLC in some way because of the misinformation that spread that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

Here's the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC trailer that released just now from the Bandai Namco Entertainment America YouTube channel:


Trailer for Shadow of the Erdtree DLC that also released at the same time but from the FromSoftware Youtube channel:


The only change you will have noticed is in the Bandai Namco trailers where Bandai Namco no longer owns the trademark for Elden Ring.

In both trailers in this post, the copyright notices are exactly the same as the one from the OP of the Elden Ring JP website: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. / ©2024 FromSoftware, Inc."

Nothing has changed substantially; Bandai Namco is still publishing Elden Ring overseas including the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC.
 
Getting this out of the way because out there, people had speculated if the change of trademark ownership affected the Elden Ring Shadow of The Erdtree DLC in some way because of the misinformation that spread that "Bandai Namco no longer owns Elden Ring".

Here's the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC trailer that released just now from the Bandai Namco Entertainment America YouTube channel:


Trailer for Shadow of the Erdtree DLC that also released at the same time but from the FromSoftware Youtube channel:


The only change you will have noticed is in the Bandai Namco trailers where Bandai Namco no longer owns the trademark for Elden Ring.

In both trailers in this post, the copyright notices are exactly the same as the one from the OP of the Elden Ring JP website: "©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. / ©2024 FromSoftware, Inc."

Nothing has changed substantially; Bandai Namco is still publishing Elden Ring overseas including the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC.

You did a good job covering this. Thanks for the all the info.
 
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