One of the biggest news of 2015 was about veteran game developer Hideo Kojima’s departure from Konami. Kojima had been working for the Japanese firm for close to three decades and was responsible for several titles such as Policenauts, Zone of the Enders, and of course, the legendary Metal Gear series. His departure came as a shock to the industry but he made up for it by announcing his own Kojima Productions and a partnership with Sony for developing Death Stranding.
However this is where things get interesting. A look at j-platpat, a website that keeps tracks of Japanese trademarks, reveals that Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. still owns the rights to Kojima Productions. According to the records on the site, Konami’s Kojima Productions trademark expires in 2026…so they’re holding it for another ten years more. According to the site, this particular trademark has already been “Issued And Active” which seems to indicate that at the very least, Konami will be using the trademark in some form in the future. Importantly enough, according to this image provided by a Reddit user indicates the trademark was possibly renewed in February this year- the trademark was originally set to expire on February 17, 2016, so this extension of validity to 2026 indicates that Konami actively renewed the trademark for another ten years.
But what about Hideo Kojima’s new Kojima Productions? Surprisingly it is currently Under Examination, according to the site. This is pretty confusing, right? Indeed it is. To get more clarification, a couple of weeks ago GamingBolt reached out to Voltage PR, the firm handling Konami UK but we haven’t received a statement yet.
There are a number of assumptions that can be made here. But before I make those assumptions I must stress that I have no knowledge about how trademarks actually work and I am only stating them based on what was previously reported and applying bit of common sense.
My first assumption is that Konami is currently working on remastering previous Metal Gear Solid games that were developed by the old Kojima Productions. It’s obvious that they would need to use the old logo and the studio title for crediting them for their original work on these games. But then how would the new Kojima Productions release new games? This question ties into my second assumption which is a bit baffling, but hear me out. Perhaps, Kojima and Konami have some sort of an internal agreement that will allow him to work with Konami in a consultant role. This report from March 2015 (via Gamespark) claims that Hideo Kojima will continue to remain the director of the Metal Gear series. However it does not mention whether it was referring to Metal Gear Solid 5 or to future games in the series. If it is indeed the latter than it may make sense as to how Kojima is continuing to use the Kojima Productions name. I mean, think about it. How is Hideo Kojima running a studio under the Kojima Productions trademark if it’s owned by Konami?
According to a recent interview with Donna Burke, Hideo Kojima’s new office will most likely be based in Tokyo, the same place where Konami is headquartered. It just doesn’t make sense that Konami will simply allow Kojima to use their trademark unless there is some sort of an agreement between the two parties.
In the end, we are not sure what actually happened between Konami and Kojima, and it will be interesting to know what happens in the future. But given that Kojima is forbidden to talk about this “split”, we will likely never learn what really happened. Well, unless there is some sort of Kojima-esque grand ruse involved which is extremely unlikely to begin with.
As usual, this report must be considered as a rumor at this stage unless we hear more from the official channels.
Note: We have added screenshots of the respective trademarks’ information which can be found below. The screenshot of the old Kojima Productions’ trademark information before it was renewed has also been added below.