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Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Night Internet Fight, Round 10- GW vs. the World

Remember all those months back when GW sent out all of those cease and desist letters? Remember how everyone got their panties in a knot over GW threatening the possibility of possible legal action in the possible future? Do you also remember how GW has the right and obligation to protect its intellectual property? Well it looks as though they are finally flexing some real legal muscle in that arena as they have officially brought suit against Curse.com and its respective owners over violation of copyright.
Kennedy, this may or may not be up your alley. I can't say for certain, but can guarantee* that it either will or will not be. In a portion of the official letter (and yes I'm only giving you a portion of the letter because I can't be bothered to pay the $4** to get the whole thing) seen on BoLS GW had the following to say:

"The domain name warhammeralliance.com and the mark WARHAMMER
ALLIANCE itself literally states and implies that Defendants and their business are in an “alliance” with Plaintiff and its products and services offered under the WARHAMMER Marks."

You can check out curse.com's Warhammer alliance for yourself and decide if they have a valid case. It's admittedly a little shaky, but if GW doesn't use its rights to defened its IP, they could be opening the door for further (and worse) infringements down the road, resulting in significant losses of revenue.

Here are a few things to take into account regarding US copyright laws courtesy of chillingeffects.org. You can read an actual C&D letter issued to Librarium online, but the real important contextual stuff comes up later on the page:

The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creative work by granting a temporary monopoly in an author's original creations. This monopoly takes the form of six rights in areas where the author retains exclusive control. These rights are:

(1) the right of reproduction (i.e., copying),
(2) the right to create derivative works,
(3) the right to distribution,
(4) the right to performance,
(5) the right to display, and
(6) the digital transmission performance right.

The law of copyright protects the first two rights in both private and public contexts, whereas an author can only restrict the last four rights in the public sphere. Claims of infringement must show that the defendant exercised one of these rights. For example, if I create unauthorized videotape copies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and distribute them to strangers on the street, then I have infringed both the copyright holder's rights of reproduction and distribution. If I merely re-enact The Wrath of Khan for my family in my home, then I have not infringed on the copyright. Names, ideas and facts are not protected by copyright.

Trademark law, in contrast, is designed to protect consumers from confusion as to the source of goods (as well as to protect the trademark owner's market). To this end, the law gives the owner of a registered trademark the right to use the mark in commerce without confusion. If someone introduces a trademark into the market that is likely to cause confusion, then the newer mark infringes on the older one. The laws of trademark infringement and dilution protect against this likelihood of confusion. Trademark protects names, images and short phrases.

Infringement protects against confusion about the origin of goods. The plaintiff in an infringement suit must show that defendant's use of the mark is likely to cause such a confusion. For instance, if I were an unscrupulous manufacturer, I might attempt to capitalize on the fame of Star Trek by creating a line of 'Spock Activewear.' If consumers could reasonably believe that my activewear was produced or endorsed by the owners of the Spock trademark, then I would be liable for infringement.

The law of trademark dilution protects against confusion concerning the character of a registered trademark. Suppose I created a semi-automatic assault rifle and marketed it as 'The Lt. Uhura 5000.' Even if consumers could not reasonably believe that the Star Trek trademark holders produced this firearm, the trademark holders could claim that my use of their mark harmed the family-oriented character of their mark. I would be liable for dilution.

This certainly isn't exciting, is it? Anybody want to see what the fuckwit peanut gallery over on BoLS had to say about this? As ever the names haven't been changed to protect the innocent, but their avatars have been for my own amusement. Be sure to express your opinion- invalid as it may be- via the poll and in the comments. You ready for some snowmobiling?

l192837465- Get over yourselves. ~lively up yourself you bumbaclot idiot, mon They have a trademark, it's their right to defend it. ~and also their obligation The creators of GW devoted hundreds of thousands of hours into the game we love and play, and you guys are complaining about a petty lawsuit? This will never reach court. And if you looked into it, this is a fan site, they use the term Warhammer on hundreds of occasions, and give no credit to GW ~see next post...ooops. They deserve the lawsuit.

BlackKnight15624- http://www.warhammeralliance.com/disclaimer.html ~well so much for the previous argument :(

l192837465- "This web site is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games
Workshop Limited." ..." Used without permission.".

Right there. Done deal. Thanks for the link. ~you just thanked him for making you look like a fool. what the fuck- where are the death threats, shouts of Nazism, or yo mama jokes?

Game Thug- The disclaimer actually works against GW's claim that "Defendants and their business are in an “alliance” with Plaintiff". ~thanks captain obvious

GW could avoid the whole issue of protecting their IP by entering into agreements for fair use of their IP. The people that argue that the UK's laws "require" GW to behave like this to their FANS are extremely limited in their view of legal relationships. ~and you are a solicitor? You might want to back up your claims of why your view is correct with some facts here...like credentials other than just being some random dude with a trick Daddy avatar, 'cause right now all I'm thinkin' 'bout is baby I'm a thug...

Hiphopopotamus- was just about to say and quote that, they practically shot themselves in the foot by saying that. ~so you're saying that curse.com shot themselves in the foot by putting a disclaimer up? I is confused

BlackKnight15624- WA sticks to the general principles of IP conformity laid out on the GW Legal page: http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/content/artic...

However, they do violate GW's 'no-fly' rules; specifically, using GW's trademarks with respect to their domain name.~specifically warhammer is in the domain name. why has nobody pointed out that they also ripped off their logo font/design as well?

They do have a case; the lengths to which they are going is unnecessary, though.

Hiphopopotamus-not necessarily true, you ever hear the phrase "give an inch and they take a mile", no matter how small they need to nip it in the bud before it gets worst. ~heaven forbid it should get worst. I'll run for the hills if it even gets close to getting wurst. umm valid point though, all references to sausage aside.

Unfortunately i hate to see it happen to a fan site that is promoting Games Workshop, this IMO will never reach court, GW is just threatening to get the website into line with its own parctices and guidelines, You do know companies like this do send e-mails and get in contact first before even going the legal action way. Its unfortunate that people think they are above the law and GW has to do stuff like this to get them to listen. ~so yeah, ignore a C&D letter and expect to be sued. thank you for bringing some sense to this back and forth. If only everyone else here understood the logic and reasoning behind this.  It should not come as a surprise to anyone who ignores such a letter to find themselves in such a predicament I think people are forgetting what does happen in the background before these things happen

droofus- "not necessarily true, you ever hear the phrase "give an inch and they take a mile", no matter how small they need to nip it in the bud before it gets worst."

Yeah, I usually hear that from people trying to justify abuses of authority. ~hey- FUCK YOU!!! Protecting your legal rights is not abusing power you donkey-raping piece of shit.  If I misrepresented who I was working for and got you to somehow join the military under false pretense you'd be pretty pissed and want to sure, right...

Hiphopopotamus- lol very true ~ahhh why the fuck do people in this thread keep thanking others for making them look like dicks. fight back damnit

Chuck777- They still include a trademarked/copywritten word in their URL. ~no shit, thanks for restating the already obvious

Putting a disclaimer does not allow you to do that. It WILL protect you from a lot of the frivolous stuff in this suit. But the URL will be changed

Dynath- Warhammer is in the dictionary as a noun, I know a dozen history museums that should be sued if it wasn't. ~now, don't quote me on this, since I'm not a lawyer, although I could probably call a certain retired judge and law professor who spawned me and find out for sure, but I am assuming that the context here is enough to constitute infringement. Warhammer itself may not be copyrightable, but in the context of tabletop-videogaming it is. Therefore, the use here would actually violate the copyright. There is also the fact that "warhammer" isn't a word, but "war hammer" is a phrase. That space makes a bit of a difference. By way of proving my point click this link here which is a link, although it might not look like it for all the web definitions of "warhammer." you'll find it decidedly lacking in references to medieval warfare. Their trademarks are for Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Battles, and Warhammer Online. Not the word warhammer. Thats like trademarking sledgehammer, claw hammer, or mallat. If it does go to court, especially in the US, they could set a legal precident that Warhammer is public domain.

*Guarantee not legally binding and meant for entertainment purposes only
**If you can be bothered to spend $4 you can get the full sets of legal documents here.


Anonymous said...

First! :p, oh no, forgot I'm not a 'tard!

I've been witing all week for this and all you give me is a semi-sensible argument and the guy is completely right ends up apologising with a jerk!

I would like to see a piece of shit rape a donkey though... that'd pure win! Or maybe not?

Chumbalaya said...

donkey raping piece of shit?

That's going in my aristocrats routine.

The CPT said...

Can we create a category called: "Holy shit I'm so drunk right now its friday njight and I can't find my couch or bed and vodka tonics and plasctic gluye were a bad idea?"

Because that would be the onee I
'd vote for. or "posting in 40k blogs while shitfaced is sad". Yeah.

HAHAHAH the verification word is 'poope'

The_King_Elessar said...

Perhaps it didn't help that said disclaimer is now 4 years out of date...


kennedy said...

Honestly, I was ignoring this whole damn thing (I just finished my Intellectual Property class, damn it! I tire of reading about this!). After all, if I've learned anything from law school, it's that GW is usually well within its rights on copyright/trademark issues.

You managed to make this highly amusing. You should have written my IP textbook.