GW Vs Chapterhouse- Verdict & Reflection

By Rob Baer | June 15th, 2013 | Categories: Chapterhouse, Legal, Miniature Wargaming News & Rumors

Well it seems that in their rush to “defend” their IP, Games Workshop may have opened up a Pandora’s box of legal precedents against themselves.

Most damning of all I think is the fact that GW admitted in court the statement that “Games Day is everyone’s chance to preform our favorite hobby activity; buying stuff from them”.

Cool, thanks GW for that “opportunity”. How about you concentrate on producing enough product for releases and stop doing us any “favors”?

They appear to be losing market share quick, and at this rate I shutter to think what the gaming scene will look like in 5-10 years.

It also looks likes a green light has been given to showing off and using pictures of GW merchandise to sell and describe other products, and use their proper names as well.

That is a very dangerous precedent to have against you, especially when it’s such a hot button “free speech/ internet” issue that can easily be picked up pro-bono by any legal counsel specializing in “liberties”.

I also think the ruling was a tad lopsided for GW as well. Sure they won on the points where Chapterhouse appeared to be clearly in the wrong, but the expenses GW incurred to foot their side of the trial (plus all the damning rulings that were handed down) I think Chapterhouse, as of right now, is emerging as the clear victor.

Checkout the overall summary from Friday’s court ruling below courtesy of Apocalypse 40k, and BoLS.

The Games Workshop vs. Chapterhouse Studio lawsuit has been a topic of conversation for over a year now and now it is over (almost).  And frankly, GW lost and I am happy they got slammed.  They deserved it due to their constant corporate overeach and claim of trademarks they don’t own.  

From BoLS:

The jury is done and we have a verdict.  

Some initial notes:
  This is a Jury Verdict, and has not yet become a Final Judgement 
Breaking down the counts along the different categories we have: 
Copyright Claims:
  160 claims alleged against CHS -GW won on 1/3 of the claims, including items such as CHS’ Powerfists -CHS won on 2/3 of the claims, including the use of the underlying shape and size of GW Shoulderpads. 
General Trademark Claims:
  9 claims alleged against CHS -CHS won all 9 claims, including either no infringement, or fair use of the GW trademarks on CHS’ website. 
Disputed Trademark Claims:
  21 disputed trademark claims alleged against CHS CHS won 11 claims GW won 10 claims 
GW Trademarks ruled “Previously Used in Commerce” Claims:
  61 claims alleged against CHS CHS won 35 claims GW won 27 
Notable Trends and Individual Products Under Dispute:
  CHS lost on some individual products including: -Doomseer -Dark Elf Arch Tortress 
CHS won on some individual products including: -Jetbike -Super-heavy walker model -Lizard Ogre 
Damages Awarded:
  CHS ordered to pay GW damages of $25,000 USD 
Both sides may appeal the ruling. 
Thoughts and Implications:
  It’s looking like however CHS as an entity comes out of this ruling, the implications for the 3rd party industry are profound. 
-The ruling of no infringement for the use of the underlying shape and size of GW shoulderpads is now on the legal record. -Possibly more important is not guilty verdicts on the use of GW trademarks and terms on the CHS website.  -While certain CHS products themselves may disappear from the Earth in the aftermath of this case, it looks like the verdict may have provided a clear blueprint for the 3rd party accessory bits market. One that allows legal use of certain GW trademarks and terms in a way that goes way beyond what Nottingham themselves ever wished to allow.

About the Author: Rob Baer

Virginia Restless, Miniature Painter & Cat Dad. I blame LEGOs. There was something about those little-colored blocks that started it all... Twitter @catdaddymbg
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