This popped up towards the end of last week, as Games Workshop is trying / tried to lay claim to the term “Space Marine”.
I figured I’d weigh in on the issue a bit myself here.
The first time I ever heard of that term Space Marine was in the Alien movie series I believe, so I’m pretty sure that if they are really going to try to fight this there will be some problems from a certain well known movie studio for starters…
From their statement below, it appears (or can be inferred ) that they think they own a lot more that they are letting on…
~Editor’s Note Games Workshop’s Facebook page has been taken down for “planned maintenance”. Could be perhaps be because of the public backlash over this whole episode altogether? All I know is, I never had to take down my Facebook for “maintenance”…
Games Workshop owns and protects many valuable trademarks in a number of territories and classes across the world. For example, ‘Warhammer’ and ‘Space Marine’ are registered trademarks in a number of classes and territories. In some other territories and classes they are unregistered trademarks protected by commercial use. Whenever we are informed of, or otherwise discover, a commercially available product whose title is or uses a Games Workshop trademark without our consent, we have no choice but to take reasonable action. We would be failing in our duty to our shareholders if we did not protect our property.
To be clear, Games Workshop has never claimed to own words or phrases such as ‘warhammer’ or ‘space marine’ as regards their general use in everyday life, for example within a body of prose. By illustration, although Games Workshop clearly owns many registered trademarks for the Warhammer brand, we do not claim to own the word ‘warhammer’ in common use as a hand weapon.
Trademarks as opposed to use of a word in prose or everyday language are two very different things. Games Workshop is always vigilant in protecting the former, but never makes any claim to owning the latter.
What makes me giggle even more is that apparently someone is actually on payroll at GW scowering the internet- spending time shutting down self published book authors.
Meanwhile there are tons of IP violating merchandise from clocks to t-shirts to buttons and fake Forge World flooding eBay and Amazon everyday.
Plus word on the street is that there have been some very interesting developments regarding the ongoing GW vs. Chapterhouse case, in regards to trademarking as well. Interesting times indeed….
But for now it seems that all is well again… sort of.. see below
Score one for the space marines.
Last month, a UK game developer, Games Workshop, complained to Amazon.com that an ebook, Spots the Space Marine, infringed its trademarks in the term “space marine.” Turns out Games Workshop sells a popular game, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and has registered marks in the term “space marine” in connection with games. But Games Workshop lost all sense of proportion and decided that it also had trademark rights to the term in books. And thus a trademark bully was born.
… We were able to intervene and, to Amazon’s credit, the company reviewed the claim and restored the book. Let’s hope Games Workshop will now have the good sense to realize the bullying has to stop.
So…what do you think of this current piece of work? -MBG
Games Workshop Hits National News
Well, its gone a little bit international now. yesterday I read in various places that Games Workshop is suing over the term “Space Marine”, and now this seems to be blowing up in GW’s face everywhere.
What happened is this.
Mid December Maggie Hogarth discovered that her book called “Spots the Space Marine” had been removed from the Amazon ebook store following a complaint by Games Workshop. Games Workshop says that its entry into digital publishing gives it “common law trademark claim over the term Space Marine.
On February 5th Maggie blogged on her own blog about the incident, and of course I am including a link to be BBC article on GW’s claim to the term “Space Marine”. This one doesnt look good GW. Think its time to back off?
via the BBC (for the entire article follow the link)
A spokesman for Games Workshop said it had a “blanket policy” of not talking to the media and had no comment to make about the row or its trademark claim.
Media and intellectual property lawyer Susan Hall from DWF said Games Workshop might struggle to assert its trademark claim in America.
“In the US they’ll come straight up against the First Amendment and that’s one issue they’ll have to overcome,” she said.
via Maggie Hogarth on her blog MCAH (the author involves speaks out)
In mid-December, Games Workshop told Amazon that I’d infringed on the trademark they’ve claimed for the term “space marine” by titling my original fiction novel Spots the Space Marine. In response, Amazon blocked the e-book from sale [original post and update]. Since then, I’ve been in discussion with Games Workshop, and following their responses, with several lawyers.
To engage a lawyer to defend me from this spurious claim would cost more money than I have, certainly more than the book has ever earned me. Rather than earning money for my family, I’d be taking money from them, when previously my writing income paid for my daughter’s schooling. And I’d have to use the little time I have to write novels to fight a protracted legal battle instead.
In their last email to me, Games Workshop stated that they believe that their recent entrée into the e-book market gives them the common law trademark for the term “space marine” in all formats. If they choose to proceed on that belief, science fiction will lose a term that’s been a part of its canon since its inception. Space marines were around long before Games Workshop. But if GW has their way, in the future, no one will be able to use the term “space marine” without it referring to the space marines of the Warhammer 40K universe.
I used to own a registered trademark. I understand the legal obligations of trademark holders to protect their IP. A Games Workshop trademark of the term “Adeptus Astartes” is completely understandable. But they’ve chosen instead to co-opt the legacy of science fiction writers who laid the groundwork for their success. Even more than I want to save Spots the Space Marine, I want someone to save all space marines for the genre I grew up reading. I want there to be a world where Heinlein and E.E. Smith’s space marines can live alongside mine and everyone else’s, and no one has the hubris to think that they can own a fundamental genre trope and deny it to everyone else.
At this point I’m not sure what course to take. I interviewed five lawyers and all of them were willing to take the case, but barring the arrival of a lawyer willing to work pro bono, the costs of beginning legal action start at $2000 and climb into the five-figure realm when it becomes a formal lawsuit. Many of you don’t know me, so you don’t know that I write a business column/web comic for artists; wearing my business hat, it’s hard to countenance putting so much time and energy into saving a novel that hasn’t earned enough to justify it. But this isn’t just about Spots. It’s about science fiction’s loss of one of its foundational tropes.
I have very little free time and very little money. But if enough people show up to this fight, I’ll give what I can to serve that trust. And if the response doesn’t equal the level of support I would need, then I still thank you for your help and your well wishes. For now, step one is to talk about this. Pass it on to your favorite news source. Tell your favorite authors or writers’ organizations. To move forward, we need interest. Let’s generate some interest.