If you were gaming on a PC just after the turn of millennium, you likely fondly remember the classic game No One Lives Forever. A genre turning first-person shooter that featured a strong, reasonably dressed female hero and a setting inspired by 1960’s spy films was received incredibly well by both critics and fans. And, because retro PC gaming continues to have a strong following, any of you that know what we’re talking about here are probably thinking you’d like to fire up a copy of No One Lives Forever on your updated machine and give it another go. Well, you can’t. You should be able to, but you can’t. And you have a complicated web of copyright and trademark rights-holders to thank for it.
Warner Bros. are not behaving sanely or decently in this matter. I reckon it’s pretty likely that they’d own the copyright, if they took over the IP from the companies they acquired (which is likely since that’s why such companies get bought).
The trademark is easy, if they weren’t using it it could be cancelled, or if a new company applies for it, they have no case for opposing it. Which is why the new application was granted. Unfortunately copyright doesn’t work the same way…
Lesson: companies should not let their lawyers run their businesses. You get “legally correct” decisions that make absolutely no business sense.