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back to article British games company says it owns the idea of space marines

British company Games Workshop, well known for producing tabletop wargames and other products set in various fantasy universes, has claimed that it owns the idea of future space marines and that nobody can write books featuring astro-bootnecks* without its consent. Last December the company succeeded in getting the novel Spots …

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The trademark in question is a US Trademark in the area of games... Not Books/eBooks

GW are trying to assert the trademark in that area (ebooks)- which is really quite sad.

The Paper print version of the book is still (or was yesterday) available on amazon for sail.

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Except they picked on someone who can't defend themselves. Didn't see them go after the makers of the Starship Troopers movies who have the financial clout to get GW laughed out of court for example.

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Re: is in fact a registered trademark

Yeah, another trademark that should NEVER have been issued.

I'll take very, very, very small consolation that at least this time it wasn't my side of the pond fouling things for world plus dog.

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You say that as though protecting or protesting on behalf of the little guy was a bad thing. After all, the big guys can look after themselves.

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Humility

I don't think I have ever seen that virtue in anything GW have done and I first ventured into one of their stores 25 years ago. It is clearly missing from this debacle.

It looks to me like they've gone after a lesser known author because she is less likely to be able to defend her work. If they win they can then use this as a precedent to go after other authors.

I don't remember the last time I was willing to pay GW's outrageous prices for their derivitive products. This just puts me off even more.

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Mushroom

They've got previous

GW and Michael Moorcock ended up embittered due to a rediculous IP grab over a generation ago. It seems that's the way GW likes to play it.

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Re: They've got previous

What might be amusing is for the estates of RA Heinlein, EE 'Doc' Smith et al. to club together and show them who's boss.

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Re: They've got previous

Indeed:

Moorcock: "Games Workshop couldn't exist without the things they've ripped off from me and Tolkien. If they'd made more of the material, I wouldn't mind. But they've dumbed it down, too. Sometimes I get weary of this crap. Other times, people remind me, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. A more sincere form of flattery than that, of course, is when they ask you first. As I've often said -- they can say it's flattery, but that's the flattery of the guy you catch in your apartment when you come home at night and he's just heading for the fire escape with your new TV. 'Great taste in TVs, man,' he says...."

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Question to The Reg

How much to send Lewis Page up to the ISS on one of the tourist trips? If only so you can say you have a Space Marine on staff. He might even be able to do some LOHAN-related experiments.

Maybe crowdsourcing could come up with some of the cash?

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Re: Question to The Reg

I'm good for a few quid. Just got my tax rebate for 2011.

If not then can we at least replace the playmonaut with a model of some kind of marine or other?

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Re: Question to The Reg

@moiety

Funny you should mention EE "Doc" Smith. That was the first name that came to my mind.

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Re: Question to The Reg

Robert Heinlein was mine. Oddly enough; the first book that came to mind -Starship Troopers- doesn't use the phrase. Revolt in 2100 does; and the phrase is used 9 times in Space Cadet. I found 77 books that use the phrase.

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Lewis, when was/were your article(s) published?

I think I've got a few White Dwarves from years ago.

Anyway, Space Marine is a bit generic, which was why I thought they came up with the name Adeptus Astartes. Plus, the surgical modifications was mostly the Emperor's children when they went heretical.

I've been reading the Horus Heresy series on and off because I don't have any friends who wargame and what I really want is a computer game that simulates all the rules, dice-rolling, cards and templates. The Horus Heresy novels have been a reasonably good read for trashy sci-fi, but they killed about 5 primarchs within a few pages in one book, I didn't think much of Horus's descent into chaos and there has been precious little seen of the Emperor in the first 7 books. The best one by far is Legion.

This Space Marine trademark thing seems like the Horus Heresy books: the Imperium is simply the Imperium, it may protect from Chaos, but it is not inherently good

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Re: Lewis, when was/were your article(s) published?

"Plus, the surgical modifications was mostly the Emperor's children when they went heretical."

Nah, they all get it. It's a large part of what makes them 'better' than other humans. Although a lot of it is genetic tinkering, as well as surgery. It doesn't get much of a mention in the Heresy books though.

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Bollocks

A good look at any of the SF from the mid to late 1930s will yield numerous references to space marines. E.E. Doc Smith and Robert A. Heinlein are two authors from that period who I know used the phrase "space marines".

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Mushroom

Nuke the site from orbit!

"These values are Honesty, Courage and Humility."

Looks like they forgot about "Mo' Money" and "Asshattery".

They would probably stoop to hiring Carter Burke to look after IP rights in a stricken space colony.

FLAMERS ON!

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Re: Nuke the site from orbit!

Oh come on, even I can work out that it's possible to be Honest, Courageous, and Humble and still be a total Asshat.

Of course, being a "good person" is actually very complicated, can be quite hard work at times, and is not something you can easily summarize. Which I suppose is why so many people settle for "denial," which feels just as good but isn't really the same thing.

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Space: Above and Beyond, and others

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space:_Above_and_Beyond

I hope that this disgusting debacle causes a resurgence of airing of older, popular shows. Space: Above and Beyond was one I liked back in the 90s. See the subject "Production" to learn of the inspirations for S:A&B.

Also, see:

http://www.cyberpursuits.com/heckifiknow/saab/

And, what if someone aquires rights to write in the Universal Soldier property, but posit that they are updates in the year 2045, quelling uprisings and dealing with other sorts of things. It could be a blend of Aliens and Outland and other shows. Of course, they won't attack the big labels. Attacking smaller companies and individuals is just unctuous and cowardly. Someone should write of the BSG Colonial Marines quelling security and resurces issues on outer rim planets. That would put an end to this bullshit. With the reimagined BSG blended with the older BSG, but with references to Blood and Chrome, and with other BSG offshoots, but with the Colonial Admiralty running their own bio-cybernetics experiments (destined to go wrong), the Colonies could face troubles with Colonial Marines battling with rogue Admiraly machines...

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"... ridiculous ... contemptible..."

I don't think any more words are necessary.

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Black Helicopters

In that case...

The Royal Marines have been going since well before the founding of the United States.

Maybe Cameron should have a word in Obama's ear and tell him to disband the US Marines as obviously they've stolen the name of our good fighting folk and should have thought up something more original!

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Game over, man. Game over.

I say we take off and nuke the entire company from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

(Combining "space" and "marine" to refer to a marine - a common word for a certain sector of military personnel - that operates in space is not protectable. I mean, come on, what sort of idiots do you take us for? Now, if they were writing a WH40K-themed book or something, yeah, I'd be on your side. But they aren't. They're just writing a book about military people who operate in space, like just about every other sci-fi novel has for the last 40 years.)

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Coat

Yeah! It's almost like combining, oh, I dunno, say "App" and "Store"...

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Clearly the decision will be overturned as soon as anyone with a quarter of a brain looks over the case. Hopefully the publicity will boost the sales of the book; while slamming Games Workshop's sales into the ground. Douchebags.

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The problem for Hogarth is getting enough money to pay a lawyer to bring it before someone with a quarter of a brain. GW did this — like most IP trolls — because they thought that they could get away with it not appearing in court. Note that they never pursued Blizzard for ripping off their IP for Starcraft and Warcraft, presumably because it would have cost GW a lot of money to get the result they wanted.

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Is there a fund? Fuck it; I've got a fiver spare...can't abide bullying like this.

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UPDATE: The author is in talks with the EFF. Bad times coming up for Games Workshop, one hopes.

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From my reading on <a href="http://www.popehat.com/2013/02/06/the-popehat-signal-help-an-author-against-a-bogus-trademark-claim/">Popehat</a>, it looks like the EFF said "no". They're appealing for pro bono assistance (and have had a few replies) but they may start a fund if required.

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That PopeHat areticle was published on the 6th, as was the author's most recent blog post that said:

"I am now in talks with the EFF. I’m not to say anything more on it, but this development was very heartening."

...possibly the PopeHat chaps hadn't read that.

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Reg is a bit late to the party. This has been reported widely for the last few days.

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Alien

Party?

Who do you think invited them to the party?

(Okay, I may not have been the only one, but I've certainly been one of them and I was pointed in the right direction by one of the authors friends that I know)

Full list of article related to this here:

http://mcah.wikia.com/wiki/Spots_vs_Games_Workshop

(I'm currently about 2/3s of the way down)

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Anonymous Coward

I am in the process of trademarking the word 'computer'. This will result in me making very large amounts of license fees, as every company from Intel to IBM is infringing!

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Not So Fast

I think you'll find Sperry Corporation beat you to the lawyers on that one.

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Bill The Galactic Hero ......

... would know how to deal with them.

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Re: Bill The Galactic Hero ......

We could also send SarMajor Iris Babcock, if she survived a marriage with Horace Harkness she can also deal with GW.

Oh. Wait. She is not a Space Marine. She is a Royal Manticoran Marine. She is safe...

What now? Captain Link Hogthrob?

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I may be a few editions out of date here....

But last I checked, not only were GW's space marines anything but reservists (they are about as full time a soldier can get) - the closest , but they're exclusively male... Females might end up in sisters of battle, but are very underrepresented in the universes fighting forces....

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Precidence not necessary

The thing is, this is regarding a trade-mark, not a patent. The rules are different.

Trademarks apparently don't require precidence - how else would someone be able to trademark "Keep calm and carry on"?

However, I am not a lawyer; I don't know whether what Games Workshop have allow them to block books with those words in the title.

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Re: Precidence not necessary

> The thing is, this is regarding a trade-mark, not a patent. The rules are different.

Thing is, it's a trade-mark, not a copyright. Amazon pulled the book after a DMCA take-down request.

GW are famous for this sort of legal bullying, which is a bit rich considering Warhammer is pretty much lifted from LOTR and 40K is LOTR in space plus bits nicked from Alien (and more recently from various Anime).

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Re: Precidence not necessary

Sure, trademarks are different to patents or indeed copyright - they not subject to automatic term limits but have compensatory restrictions in place of that limit.

It would appear to me that the very most trademark protection "Space Marine" could have even as original coinage would be as a "descriptive mark" which are themselves difficult to enforce (see here for a fuller explanation). The ability to cite prior works in the same and related genres would surely amount to evidence that it is generic in nature and thus not subject to even that protection. I hope the author does challenge this and Games Workshop invalidate their own trademark. I'm guessing via the mechanism used - challenging Amazon who will not want to get involved in the dispute - is tacit acceptance they know the weakness of their hand.

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Re: Precidence not necessary

Do GW by any chance have dwarfs, elves, wizards, dragons, ..... in their toy collection?

Do not meddle in the affairs of Tolkein heirs - they are quick to anger and not subtle

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Re: Precidence not necessary

Unlike copyright, trademarks _have_ to be vigorously defended, or they're lost.

It's utterly wrong that the DMCA was used in this case and there are penalties for misuse of it, but they seldom get applied.

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Alien

Re: Precidence not necessary

Not trademarkable due to their generic use throughout fantasy literature, and not copyrightable due to the fact that Tolkein himself nicked them from mythology.

In all honesty they should never have been given the phrase as a trademark in the first place as it was already a generic term in PC games (Doom) and has prior art in board games.

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Childcatcher

We are up against a legal xenomorph whose bad ideas hatch in people's brains!

Yes, the rules would be different.

If it were called "Space Marines ®"

If it's "Space Marines™" or just "Space Marines", it will just be "Fooock Ouuufff!".

A quick look.see at the USPTO (is there something like that for the UK)?

"SPACE MARINE" registered for "video computer games; computer software for playing games"

and

"SPACE MARINE" registered for " board games, parlor games, war games, hobby games, toy models and miniatures of buildings, scenery, figures, automobiles, vehicles, planes, trains and card games and paint, sold therewith."

both registered to

"GAMES WORKSHOP LIMITED CORPORATION UNITED KINGDOM Willow Road, Lenton Eastwood Nottingham NG7 2W5 UNITED KINGDOM"

as a TRADEMARK

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Re: Precidence not necessary

Hmm... would this be the GW who currently have a license to produce the LoTR and Hobbit games?

Anyhow, Dragons: Want to go talk to the Welsh about their flag, by chance? Or the Norse? Or the Chinese?

Want to talk to the Norse about Elves and Dwarves?

Wizard I've not been about to trace down, but I've a feeling it's Arabic and refers to a Scholar - do need more time to check.

Anyhow, Tolkien didn't create any of them. His story was allegedly based of Nordic sagas, so wasn't entirely original. So do explain why we should be going to his estate regarding them?

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Anonymous Coward

Let's not take any risk

That seems to be the moto of the decenium. Let's not take any risk. That's probably why Games Workshop thought they HAD to protect their trademark.

And that's why Amazon thought they HAD to comply.

"Instead they chose a comparatively unknown indie writer who would clearly have difficulty getting Amazon to listen to her, and in finding effective representation."

I work for a company that, the week after sending a client an invoice of over € 5.000 for maintenance, hesitated to confirm that the software will work on a HP PC. Because of "the risk".

Let's hope there's a judge out there who pulls their balls out through their throat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's not take any risk

I would say a 5 euro maintenance contract is a bit risky... I mean what kinda service are you gunna get for that?

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Re: Let's not take any risk

Same as you get for the 5000euro version

"have you tried turning it off and on again?

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Mushroom

i HAVE YEARS OF PENT UP gw SPLEEN TO VENT

Games Workshop are still alive?! Shit, they're like a turd you can't flush.

When was the last time White Dwarf was any good? Issue 87, maybe?

"...long and illustrious history producing many fine offerings.." I think you're mistaking them for another company. Possibly TSR. (TSR weren't perfect;but they weren't bullies.)

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WTF?

Re: i HAVE YEARS OF PENT UP gw SPLEEN TO VENT

TSR were notorious bullies before they were owned by White Wolf. In the early days of the internet there were numerous cease and desist notices sent out by their lawyer to any site that mentioned Advanced (R) Dungeons(R) & Dragons(R). How do I know? I got one for a site I built for my gaming group to document our shared campaign. I had to remove all reference to AD&D(tm) and other phrases. I tried to point out to them that my site was in fact providing them with free advertising, but they didn't get it... and they they got bought out and everything changed! Don't forget, this was the company that had reg trade mark on the word "Dragon"!!

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Go

Good tidings for M.C.A. Hogarth

With the free publicity, she'll now have an audience waiting for her book. Expect a 'pre-order' button on Amazon soon!

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