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Author Topic: No More Space Marines (other than Warhammer)  (Read 851 times)
Alisha Mynx
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« on: February 08, 2013, 08:00:54 PM »

I was looking through the forums of a pet site I play on, and I noticed a topic called "No More Space Marines".  I thought it might have been something else, like maybe Warhammer shut down.  But it turns out, Games Workshop is claiming the term "Space Marines" as their own, going so far as to send cease and desists to creators who have used the term such as this one.

Now I'll admit I'm not very fluent in legalese, but I think this can't be 100% right.  The term has been around and in use for far longer than Games Workshop and Warhammer has been around, so I don't see how this can come to pass in their favor.
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GeorgeDubya
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2013, 08:09:47 PM »

The term "Space Marine" has been a part of the sci-fi genre's vernacular since the 1930's. As much as I enjoy Warhammer things (currently playing Dawn of War 2 which I got as part of a giant Steam bundle during the winter sale), this just makes me mad.

Then again, we're living in an age in which people have tried to copyright phrases like "You're fired" and "That's hot." I don't put anything past people anymore.
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Alisha Mynx
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 08:27:29 PM »

The term "Space Marine" has been a part of the sci-fi genre's vernacular since the 1930's.

Which is why I'm curious how this is happening.  It just doesn't seem like it should even be considered.

Then again, we're living in an age in which people have tried to copyright phrases like "You're fired" and "That's hot." I don't put anything past people anymore.

Ugh, you are right. 
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Pearce
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2013, 12:26:44 AM »

Games Workshop's days are numbered in an era of 3D printing and digital scans. You can buy one package, scan it into your computer and print up an army, all while using a scanned .pdf of the codex on your tablet. That's why they're so militant about removing things from Thingverse that are too close to their brand, even if they're not direct copies (but you can find them if you look hard enough).

That being said, the thing about this lawsuit is that they do in fact hold a trademark, and trademarks are only valid if you actively defend them. So that being said, if this author had gone to trial and argued that the trademark were invalid (and they have a very good case that it should be nullified) it would be tossed. The author just didn't have the money to do that. Eventually someone will come along with money to fight them and the trademark will get tossed.
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Pearce
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2013, 01:36:21 AM »

I guess I should clarify in that I don't think piracy / 3d printing will be the end of Games Workshop, no more than tapes / CDs, etc killed the recording industry. They will just be forced to move beyond their absurd pricing schemes and adapt. Maybe they will offer 3d printing in-store where you can customize your minis and print them, or something like that. At least that's what they will do if they are smart.

That being said, wow I want a 3d printer so bad. They are getting ridiculously cheap now as well.
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GeorgeDubya
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2013, 06:58:29 AM »

Here's the thing, it isn't like they're attacking someone making a game or some big name author who is going to steal their thunder. They're attacking a small time author who publishes through a small self-publishing company.

If they were being silly enough to go after Heinlein's estate for his various works which contain the words Space Marine there might be something behind the "protecting their trademark" argument, but even that would be laughable.

On a positive note - https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/02/trademark-bully-thwarted-spots-space-marine-back-online
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sliksham
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2013, 08:03:35 AM »

Its truly ironic considering that Tyranids are copied from Alien, Marines are copied from the starship troopers literature etc. etc.
Blizzard blatantly copied warhammer but they won't get any follow up because defending a copyright which you yourself based upon material from others work is flimsy at best.

Its just their legal dept chucking their weight around, in most cases a big company will send a C&D letter to a small organisation or single person and, even though the smaller group may be in the right, they don't have the clout or finances to go through the expense of standing up for their claim in court.
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Alisha Mynx
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2013, 09:41:05 AM »

It looks like Amazon.com decided that the GW C&D was unwarranted or something because "Spots the Space Marine" has been re-listed by Amazon

Score one for the little guys!

That being said, the thing about this lawsuit is that they do in fact hold a trademark, and trademarks are only valid if you actively defend them.

The problem here is that GW only holds a trademark for Space Marine if it applies to certain items, such as toys, statues, games, etc.  Written works are not part of that trademark.  From what I understand, unless they can prove that the author's space marine story is based on their properties, then they don't really have a case.
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Otter Disaster
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2013, 10:40:05 AM »

Between this and Marvel/DC trying to monopolize the term Super-Hero/Superhero, I think somebody should do a comic/novel/movie called Super Heroes vs. Space Marines, just to prove a point. Throw in any other concepts or characters that media companies are trying to co-opt as their 'intellectual property' but that are part of the common vernacular.
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Alisha Mynx
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2013, 11:20:55 AM »

Doesn't the Marvel/DC joint ownership only extend to "super-hero" when spelled like that?  Or does it mean all uses of the term?
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Pearce
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2013, 01:34:47 AM »

Happy to hear Amazon reversed its decision. It was a very spurious takedown request, even for them (an extremely litigious company) it was pretty low.
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Alisha Mynx
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2013, 03:12:21 PM »

I'm fairly amused with Games Workshop.  They pulled down their Facebook page for a bit, not just the post that had tried stating why they issued the C&D (yet pretty much admitting "It is okay to use the term in writing" at the same time). 

I don't use Facebook so I don't know if they made a new one yet or what, but it just reminds me of someone trying to backpeddle after being caught in a lie.
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I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones.   -The Doctor
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