Saturday, February 09, 2013

Of Course, You Know This Means WAR! With Space Marines!

     Games Workshop doesn't know it, but they're messin' in my patch.  They believe they own the term "space marine" and they've sued an author over her use of their trademarked term in  her novel, Spots the Space Marine.  Amazon received a takedown notice (nonsense, as DCMA takedown notices apply only over matters of copyright), took it down and has since reinstated it, thanks to the work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.*

     All unbeknownst to me, but while E. E. "Doc" Smith and Robert A. Heinein would be hard to hale into court over their space marines, me and my Far Edge semi-private enterprise Mil/Space fighters, commonly (though erroneously)  referred to by USSF/NATO forces and even regular folks on their side of the "border" as Space Marines, are only too vulnerable.

     Maybe it's good to be too insignificant to sue but that was close one.  The (don't don't don't say "Bat Signal," it's a trademark issue), er, alarum was raised, early and loud, but the war between the nail-everything-down mercantilist corporate forces and creative folk who want the entire language out there, unshackled and ready for use, rages on.

     Can't let the bastids grind us down. "Illegitimi Non Carborundum," as Mr. Twain so elequently put it, despite having to invent his own Latin word to do the job.

     Oh, yeah, I bought a copy of the book.  Amazon link at Tam's, friends.

     ETA: Turns out there are a couple dozen genuine, real-life, sho'nuf Space Marines (USMC, NASA) to whom this trademarking would come as a surprise, too. Y'know, that's not a group to irk casually.
* EFF is to online First Amendment issues as NRA is to Second Amendment issues, complete with their own 800-pound gorrilage.


Dave H said...

The Register seems to agree with your take on the matter:

It'd be interesting to see some other owners of intellectual property containing spaceborne troops (Microsoft comes to mind, with their Halo universe) weigh in.

Paul C. said...

I own a store that deals in Games Workshop miniatures. They're probably 15% of my business.

It's a good product, but the company is pretty terrible. They've got a fleet of lawyers standing ready at all times.

If they'd take that money and spend it on, say, not screwing customers out of pre-orders on limited-release items, they'd do a lot better.

No worries. Home 3D scanning/printing will put them out of business in the next ten years anyway as that technology proliferates.

Old NFO said...

Interesting how many companies are trademarking/copywriting stuff that has been around for years...



Rob K said...

That company needs to be picking their teeth out of their bank account for trying to pull that sort hi-jinx. Spurious IP claims like that need to be punished severely.

Bear said...

I think the first fictional use of "space marine" was a pulp SF series that started in 1932, "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" and "The Space Marines and the Slavers" four years later.

@Navigator: Heinlein did use the term space marines, in 1939's "Misfit". Sheesh, everyone thinks Starship Troopers and forgets everything else...

And of course, more recently, John Ringo and Travis taylor have been using the phrase in their "Vorpal Blade" series.

I think it's good that GW is doing this. Because it's probably going to cost them the trademark entirely.

Roberta X said...

Navigator: You'll find RAH with genuine Space Marines in "Space Cadet" and they are called such and are a realistic portrayal of a Navy man's perception of Marines, too.

(Interestingly, his Space Force has more in common with the two least-known U. S. uniformed services, NOAA and the PHSCC, than it does with the traditional five.)

Ritchie said...

Ownership of two or more prohibited words, even if they are not assembled, constitutes constructive possession.

perlhaqr said...

Technically, they didn't sue Hogarth, they just sent Amazon a nastygram to get her book pulled.

Of course, they used a DMCA request for trademark purposes, which it's not for, so I don't know why Amazon complied.

Still, I was glad when she reported it was back up. (She's a FOAF.)

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

My knee-jerk reaction when I saw this earlier was "That has to be wrong," immediately followed by "There must be lawyers involved."

Appears that somebody was asleep at the switch at the USPTO that day, and missed all the prior art that you'd think would have invalidated such a weak claim...

Fred said...

GW is awesome like that, and by awesome, I mean I'm in awe of how fiercely they'll fight to protect their IP... To the point of completely killing a fan produced movie a few years back, that the guys making had zero plans to make money off (this was after GW gave them the ok... until a lawyer said it could negate future IP claims.)

I love 40k, but its owner is its own worse enemy.