Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Games Workshop Claims It Owns the Term "Space Marines"

Space Patrol by ~WillMcLean on deviantART

Games Workshop has apparently taken the position that their trademark of "Space Marines" allows them to prevent authors from writing about space marines without their permission, or at least authors unable to afford expensive litigation like M.C.A. Hogarth.

This is a trademark claim, not copyright, so extensive prior use doesn't prevent the claim. What makes it bogus is the long and frequent use in science fiction of space marines as generic description. It's like trying to trademark the use of "chocolate cake". Also, no reasonable person would confuse Hogarth's space marines with GW's hulking brutes in cartoonishly oversized shoulderpads.

If you're a GW customer you may want to tell them, politely but firmly, that this kind of behavior is damaging their brand.

Shame on you, Games Workshop. Shame.


Andy Finkrl said...

I remember Mark Ratner's Space Marines game from the 80s, with my favorite weapon, the scattergun :-)

Games Workshop seems like its trying to use a trademark is a really broad, questionable fashion. Why in the world did Amazon go along with that ?

Andy Finkel said...

(that's what I get for typing too quickly, Finkrl instead of Finkel :-)

Will McLean said...

Amazon is making a cold cost-benefit calculation. They probably aren't making that much off that e-book. GW is known for being highly litigious, and even a successful defense against a lawsuit is probably going to cost vastly more than they'll ever make from carrying the kindle version.

Andy Finkel said...

Interesting update: Amazon put back the book. Could have been due to public pressure, could have been due to someone pointing out that a DMCA takedown notice is for copyright, not trademark infringement :-)