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Iron Maiden is suing 3D Realms over Ion Maiden

Polygon logo Polygon 5/30/2019 Owen S. Good
a building on fire at night: Screenshot of 2018 game Ion Maiden. © Voidpoint/3D Realms Screenshot of 2018 game Ion Maiden.

Iron Maiden claims game Ion Maiden rips off its name and logo

The heavy metal band Iron Maiden is suing the former owners of the Duke Nukem IP over Ion Maiden, a first-person shooter that launched on Steam Early Access in February 2018.

Ion Maiden, developed in the 24-year-old Build Engine that first ran Duke Nukem 3D, is a canonical follow-up to Bombshell, which launched in 2016. That game began life as Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction until a 2014 lawsuit forced 3D Realms to invent a new character and storyline. The developer ultimately had to start the game over from scratch.

Iron Maiden’s holding company filed the lawsuit in a California federal court on Tuesday alleging trademark infringement, both in the riff on the band’s name and the stylized logo presenting it. While the band’s namesake is a torture device (some say apocryphal) from medieval times, its logo — and particularly the “steel cut” typeface it uses — has been registered in the United States since 1984.

Here’s Iron Maiden’s logo (as drawn on notebooks and school desks since the Reagan administration):

a screenshot of a cell phone: image of the band iron maiden’s distinctive “steel cut” logo © Iron Maiden Holdings v. 3D Realms Entertainment (screenshot) image of the band iron maiden’s distinctive “steel cut” logo

And here is Ion Maiden’s logo, from the Steam marketplace.

a drawing of a face: ion maiden logo bearing striking resemblance to iron maiden logo © Steam (screenshot) ion maiden logo bearing striking resemblance to iron maiden logo

Iron Maiden’s complaint asks for $2 million in statutory damages, more in compensatory damages, and a slew of rulings against 3D Realms related to the creation and use of the Ion Maiden logo. The band also wants injunctions prohibiting the use or the registration of the existing logo and trademark, the destruction of any physical materials bearing it, and either the cancellation of the ionmaiden.com domain or transferring its ownership to the band.

3D Realms, best known the Duke Nukem franchise and the development struggles of Duke Nukem Forever, was sued by Take-Two Interactive in 2009 for failing to deliver the game. Actions against 3D Realms were resolved when Gearbox Software bought and finished the project for 2K Games, taking ownership of the Duke Nukem IP in the process.

In 2014, 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment announced Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, with a countdown website. Gearbox sued, in a complaint that called its acquisition of Duke Nukem Forever a favor and the completion of the critically panned game a thankless task. The lawsuit was settled in 2015, with a statement affirming Gearbox as the sole owner of the Duke Nukem franchise.

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