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Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?

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Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« on: February 21, 2012, 02:25:13 AM »
 

skoops6

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As of late, I have noticed that GW is bringing down its legal hammer on many 3rd party companys, whether they sell GW merchandise or models which are similar to GW models. so the question is, Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often? And should they? I personaly think that third party models are a great way to add diversity and uniqueness to your collection, and GW model Retailers often have cheaper prices than GW itself.
what do you guys think? Is the legal hammering and all around dwarfyness nessersary, or should GW ease up a bit?
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 05:29:24 AM »
 

Mortalis

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This is a seriously tricky issue that many tip toe around. Personally I think it depends on the individual circumstances. I've heard stories about GW bring the Hammer of legality on poor innocent forums just celebrating their product, but I'm not particularly sure if these are exaggerated.

As for GW hammering companies making models similar to their own? That too depends. You are right, 3rd party models can be great but at the end of the day Games Workshop own their intellectual property and the rights to their designs. If companies are ripping off GW models to make a buck they should be hammered. However if GW stray down the path of hammering anyone who makes a miniature the same size as theirs, they are overstepping the line. But once again I'm not sure how far they have gone, so I cannot judge.

Can you provide some links to said hammering?

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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 07:00:38 AM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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As for GW hammering companies making models similar to their own? That too depends. You are right, 3rd party models can be great but at the end of the day Games Workshop own their intellectual property and the rights to their designs. If companies are ripping off GW models to make a buck they should be hammered. However if GW stray down the path of hammering anyone who makes a miniature the same size as theirs, they are overstepping the line. But once again I'm not sure how far they have gone, so I cannot judge.

True, but GW do go too far. They only own the designs for models that have actually been designed, and their attempts to stop companies making models for units that GW haven't actually designed or made yet. Irritatingly I can't find the link at the moment, but GW have recently attempted to stop a company from making models based on their IP, but which they have not themselves yet produced. This is frankly obscene. Not releasing models for units you have created rules for is one thing, attempting to legally prevent anybody else producing models for said units, forcing players to proxy or convert their own, is an extremely low blow as far as I am concerned.

Having said all that GW obviously have a right to protect their own IP, and where companies are blatantly trying to sell copies of their models there isn't a lot of legal or moral grey area.
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 07:17:10 AM »
 

IainC

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True, but GW do go too far. They only own the designs for models that have actually been designed, and their attempts to stop companies making models for units that GW haven't actually designed or made yet. Irritatingly I can't find the link at the moment, but GW have recently attempted to stop a company from making models based on their IP, but which they have not themselves yet produced. This is frankly obscene. Not releasing models for units you have created rules for is one thing, attempting to legally prevent anybody else producing models for said units, forcing players to proxy or convert their own, is an extremely low blow as far as I am concerned.

GW also own the names and iconography for units they've designed that don't have miniatures. Companies like Gamezone and Avatars of War make Warhammer compatible figures and get away with it by not using GW trademarks either as recognisable iconography or in the descriptions of their product. Lots of companies make figures that will stand in just fine for GW product, some of it doesn't even have a lot of alternate uses outside of that. On the other hand, if you were to make a figure covered in Khorne iconography and describe it as Valkia the Bloody for example then GW would have a legitimate complaint to make even though there's no official Valkia model. Well before GW released the Hellpit Abomination kit, Maelstrom were selling a thing that was very obviously a HPA, this was ok because it didn't have any trademarked symbols on it and wasn't described as either a Skaven or as an HPA, because only GW are allowed to do that,
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 07:36:14 AM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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And I have no problem with them enforcing their IP in cases where they actually have legal grounds. But that's not what I said
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 07:44:03 AM »
 

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Not releasing models for units you have created rules for is one thing, attempting to legally prevent anybody else producing models for said units, forcing players to proxy or convert their own, is an extremely low blow as far as I am concerned.

Isn't the trouble with this that if another company for example creates a Tervigon-look-alike before GW has released their own Tervigon which they have planned to release a year from now GW risks being in trouble when they do release their product since the company with the look-alike can claim copyright infringement? That is the reason that has been spread by rumour pundits at least for why the Tyranid and Space Wolves second wave got lost, not sure if it actually matches up to copyright laws though...
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 08:22:18 AM »
 

Underhand

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I'm actually hesitant to be too critical of GW there.

When they release a codex, they have a plan for which models they are going to release and a schedule for when they are going to release them.  If another company jump in and releases their own version of that model prior to GW releasing theirs, then it cuts down on the potential number of sales left for GW, who are the ones who went to all the trouble of developing the rules, fluff etc for that unit.

It's a bit different if it's one of those models that they have simply taken too long to come out with (say for example, Imperial Guard penal legionnaires), or never will, but it's a sliding scale, and at the end of the day, I don't think it's fair that GW should miss out on cut of the profit from sales of models based on the intellectual property that they developed.  Anyone making miniatures designed to be used with GW games should pay GW a reasonable licensing fee.

I actually think that would be good for the hobby, particularly the Specialist Games like Necromunda, Bloodbowl or Mordheim, which could really do with an expansion in their model range.
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2012, 08:28:47 AM »
 

Benis

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Anyone making miniatures designed to be used with GW games should pay GW a reasonable licensing fee.

GW would probably love this, the problem becomes of course that the models I'm making are not for Blood Bowl, they're for a fantasy football rpg I'm making etc. The models are simply too generic to actually give GW the opportunity to run such a licensing system. Not to mention the problems that such a system could also create in undercutting GW's own sales or even making some nicer looking models than what GW do.
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2012, 08:34:56 AM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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When they release a codex, they have a plan for which models they are going to release and a schedule for when they are going to release them.  If another company jump in and releases their own version of that model prior to GW releasing theirs, then it cuts down on the potential number of sales left for GW, who are the ones who went to all the trouble of developing the rules, fluff etc for that unit.

But they didn't go to the trouble of actually making the model, and so while I have no problem with them clamping down on reproductions of the rules, fluff and etc for that unit, I don't see why that should give them a free pass at the model as well.
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2012, 08:53:27 AM »
 

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But for a lot of units GW has planned to release a model in a future wave, this was how GW always used to operate; first release the codex and a couple of units then when time has passed rekindle interest in a faction without having to release a new codex by releasing a second wave. It is understandable that GW got a bit upset that their system didn't work anymore and for them to flex some legal muscles to see if they can't get back to doing what they have always done.
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2012, 09:43:53 AM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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So their strategy (which was stupid) failed to work, they responded by resorting to bullying, and that's understandable? Nope, not buying that one, sorry.
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2012, 10:00:50 AM »
 

Blood Hawk

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So their strategy (which was stupid) failed to work, they responded by resorting to bullying, and that's understandable? Nope, not buying that one, sorry.
I would rather have my tau codex now but be missing a few units/kits than wait another 2 years for everything to be finalized.  GW writes the rules/fluff first and then sends that to the model designers so it is only logical that the rules are probably completed before all the kits are done.

Also calling plaintiffs in law suits "bullys" I also think sets a bad precedent.
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2012, 10:18:14 AM »
 

Benis

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Also calling plaintiffs in law suits "bullys" I also think sets a bad precedent.

Indeed. It is a sad requirement for any company that wishes to keep their IPs intact that they have to take action against almost everything that could be considered infringement. To call it bullying is simply insincere.
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2012, 10:27:40 AM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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That would depend on whether their strategy was based on a sincere belief that they were legally in the right. If they didn't, and I can scarcely imagine that professional lawyers would maintain such a belief, then it's fairly straightforward bullying.

And speaking as somebody who waited a lot of years for a Codex, only to have it come out with a third of the units in the Codex having no model, and in at least one case there being no model made by GW that can easily be converted, I would submit that you only think that that is what you prefer. Is a new, crappy Codex better than no new Codex at all?
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2012, 10:35:10 AM »
 

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Like I said, the rumourmongers claim that the lack of release for Tervigon and Tyrannofex (and possibly Thunderwolves and the Harpy) was due to other companies releasing models similar to those in concept and basically selling them as look-alikes which makes it tricky for GW to release the same model without occurring copyright infringement on those companies. I'm uncertain if this is really true since I don't know enough about copyright laws. If true though it is natural for GW to not want other companies to make money from their IP, money that they plan to harness in the future with a release of a second wave, of course they will try and see if the law can work for them or if the threat of lawyers can help them get what they consider is theirs.

 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2012, 10:51:11 AM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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GW had a pretty hefty window between the Nids Codex release and the copycats appearing to release models of their own, so I'm not buying that argument.

If true though it is natural for GW to not want other companies to make money from their IP, money that they plan to harness in the future with a release of a second wave, of course they will try and see if the law can work for them or if the threat of lawyers can help them get what they consider is theirs.

They can consider it theirs if they like, but it isn't theirs unless they actually produce something. What GW have done in this case is essentially call "dibs" on models because they wrote a book about them, and then took it to court.
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2012, 10:59:06 AM »
 

Blood Hawk

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That would depend on whether their strategy was based on a sincere belief that they were legally in the right. If they didn't, and I can scarcely imagine that professional lawyers would maintain such a belief, then it's fairly straightforward bullying.
Yes but remember GW was still the plaintiff here, it was the other companies actions that caused the law suit not the other way around.  There are two sides to every law suit don't be so quick to judge the victim.

And speaking as somebody who waited a lot of years for a Codex, only to have it come out with a third of the units in the Codex having no model, and in at least one case there being no model made by GW that can easily be converted, I would submit that you only think that that is what you prefer. Is a new, crappy Codex better than no new Codex at all?
So you would rather have waited another 2+ years for your codex then is that what you are saying?  you would rather have a 7+ year old codex?  I have doubts that is the case.

They can consider it theirs if they like, but it isn't theirs unless they actually produce something. What GW have done in this case is essentially call "dibs" on models because they wrote a book about them, and then took it to court.
But would chapterhouse studios and other groups still have produced models for the nids codex and others if there wasn't rules for them in GW products?
« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 11:01:33 AM by Blood Hawk »
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2012, 11:11:22 AM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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That would depend on whether their strategy was based on a sincere belief that they were legally in the right. If they didn't, and I can scarcely imagine that professional lawyers would maintain such a belief, then it's fairly straightforward bullying.
Yes but remember GW was still the plaintiff here, it was the other companies actions that caused the law suit not the other way around.  There are two sides to every law suit don't be so quick to judge the victim.

You and I have two different definitions of plaintiff then, because to me plaintiff, or complainant, means that they are the one who initiated the suit, so they are the ones who caused the suit. That GW took it to court does not automatically mean that they are the wronged party. I think saying "woah, ease up on the plaintiff there bud, sets a bad precedent" sets a pretty bad precedent itself.

And speaking as somebody who waited a lot of years for a Codex, only to have it come out with a third of the units in the Codex having no model, and in at least one case there being no model made by GW that can easily be converted, I would submit that you only think that that is what you prefer. Is a new, crappy Codex better than no new Codex at all?
So you would rather have waited another 2+ years for your codex then is that what you are saying?  you would rather have a 7+ year old codex?  I have doubts that is the case.

Necron and Dark Eldar players got a pretty good deal out of waiting a decade for their Codex, so yes, that is exactly what I am saying. Doubt what you like, I know my mind.

They can consider it theirs if they like, but it isn't theirs unless they actually produce something. What GW have done in this case is essentially call "dibs" on models because they wrote a book about them, and then took it to court.
But would chapterhouse studios and other groups still have produced models for the nids codex and others if there wasn't rules for them in GW products?

No they would not, nor would they have done so if GW had never devised Warhammer 40,000 in the first place. That doesn't really connect to why GW have a legal right to prevent chapterhouse from producing models which are not copies of anything GW have produced without their permission. Can the Méliès estate sue Dreamworks for producing animated films? Can Disney?
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Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2012, 11:37:21 AM »
 

Blood Hawk

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You and I have two different definitions of plaintiff then, because to me plaintiff, or complainant, means that they are the one who initiated the suit, so they are the ones who caused the suit. That GW took it to court does not automatically mean that they are the wronged party. I think saying "woah, ease up on the plaintiff there bud, sets a bad precedent" sets a pretty bad precedent itself.
So when I call the police when my neighbors are disturbing the peace, yes I am the one that calls the police but is was not my actions that caused my neighbors to be fined, it was their actions that caused it.  You don't see the problem with your logic there?  If GW is suing you because you started selling t-shirts with trademarked logos on it is not all of sudden GW fault, you where the one breaking the rules.  This called blaming the victim.   Whether or not GW had a good legal case is completely besides the question, punishing someone for actually going to court over something like calling them a bully only makes others who have probably been wronged less likely to come forward.  This is bad precedent I was talking about.

Necron and Dark Eldar players got a pretty good deal out of waiting a decade for their Codex, so yes, that is exactly what I am saying. Doubt what you like, I know my mind.
Yea, easy to say that now but also ignoring the fact it took 10+ YEARS for those Codexs.  It is hard to justify waiting that long when different gaming companies produce products other than minis at a much faster rate, and besides those two new DE and Necron codexs aren't without their problems, I honestly don't think that they are drastically better than nids.  I remember an interview with Phillip Kelly where he said that if he could he would change some things in the DE dex and admitted that the dais of destruction could have used some more work.

No they would not, nor would they have done so if GW had never devised Warhammer 40,000 in the first place. That doesn't really connect to why GW have a legal right to prevent chapterhouse from producing models which are not copies of anything GW have produced without their permission. Can the Méliès estate sue Dreamworks for producing animated films? Can Disney?
Actually you are not allowed to copyright very basic technology needed to produce certain products, like production for animated films.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 01:23:55 PM by Blood Hawk »
 

Re: Does Games Workshop Bring Down The Legal Hammer Too Often?
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2012, 02:08:43 PM »
 

Chuckles, The Space Marine Clown

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So when I call the police when my neighbors are disturbing the peace, yes I am the one that calls the police but is was not my actions that caused my neighbors to be fined, it was their actions that caused it.  You don't see the problem with your logic there?  If GW is suing you because you started selling t-shirts with trademarked logos on it is not all of sudden GW fault, you where the one breaking the rules.  This called blaming the victim.   Whether or not GW had a good legal case is completely besides the question, punishing someone for actually going to court over something like calling them a bully only makes others who have probably been wronged less likely to come forward.  This is bad precedent I was talking about.


And if GW sues me because I write a fandex, solely for the use of myself and my friends, and write a disclaimer at the start stating that I have no intent to profit from any of GW's copyrights, they are the wronged party? What rules have chapterhouse broken? What copyright laws have they infringed? Your suggestion is that if somebody does something you consider "bad" but not actually illegal then GW is absolutely fine to use their superior size, wealth and resources to coerce them into stopping. I disagree with that suggestion fairly strongly. If somebody actually breaks civil law then by all means sue. Don't sue because you know they can't afford to prove that they haven't actually infringed your copyright.

Yea, easy to say that now but also ignoring the fact it took 10+ YEARS for those Codexs.  It is hard to justify waiting that long when different gaming companies produce products other than minis at a much faster rate, and besides those two new DE and Necron codexs aren't without their problems, I honestly don't think that they are drastically better than nids.  I remember an interview with Phillip Kelly where he said that if he could he would change some things in the DE dex and admitted that the dais of destruction could have used some more work.

I didn't ignore it, I simply pointed out that, at the end of a long wait, players of these two armies have come away with excellently written army books with great background, mostly balanced army lists with many options, and, most relevant to this discussion a strong range of models. And the fact that the DE codex isn't perfect proves nothing. Imperfect or not it is still a couple of light years better than the Tyranid Codex, as is the Necrons Codex, which also isn't perfect.

Actually you are not allowed to copyright very basic technology needed to produce certain products, like production for animated films.

So your answer to my question is yes then? I wonder if we'll see a string of court cases from the groups I mentioned.
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