Friday, June 14, 2013

Chapterhouse vs. GW. The Verdict!





The Games Workshop vs. Chapterhouse Studio lawsuit has been a topic of conversation for over a year now and now it is over (almost).  And frankly, GW lost and I am happy they got slammed.  They deserved it due to their constant corporate overeach and claim of trademarks they don't own.  

From BoLS:

The jury is done and we have a verdict. 

Some initial notes:
  This is a Jury Verdict, and has not yet become a Final Judgement
Breaking down the counts along the different categories we have:
Copyright Claims:
  160 claims alleged against CHS -GW won on 1/3 of the claims, including items such as CHS' Powerfists -CHS won on 2/3 of the claims, including the use of the underlying shape and size of GW Shoulderpads.
General Trademark Claims:
  9 claims alleged against CHS -CHS won all 9 claims, including either no infringement, or fair use of the GW trademarks on CHS' website.
Disputed Trademark Claims:
  21 disputed trademark claims alleged against CHS CHS won 11 claims GW won 10 claims
GW Trademarks ruled "Previously Used in Commerce" Claims:
  61 claims alleged against CHS CHS won 35 claims GW won 27
Notable Trends and Individual Products Under Dispute:
  CHS lost on some individual products including: -Doomseer -Dark Elf Arch Tortress
CHS won on some individual products including: -Jetbike -Super-heavy walker model -Lizard Ogre
Damages Awarded:
  CHS ordered to pay GW damages of $25,000 USD
Both sides may appeal the ruling.
Thoughts and Implications:
  It's looking like however CHS as an entity comes out of this ruling, the implications for the 3rd party industry are profound.
-The ruling of no infringement for the use of the underlying shape and size of GW shoulderpads is now on the legal record. -Possibly more important is not guilty verdicts on the use of GW trademarks and terms on the CHS website.  -While certain CHS products themselves may disappear from the Earth in the aftermath of this case, it looks like the verdict may have provided a clear blueprint for the 3rd party accessory bits market. One that allows legal use of certain GW trademarks and terms in a way that goes way beyond what Nottingham themselves ever wished to allow.


And read more in the BoLS Forum thread on the subject here.  My views tomorrow.


Loken

10 comments:

Oktane said...

I'm with you Loken,been waiting for this for awhile.It seems in trying to defend its IP,GW has just opened up a huge can of worms for themselves.They should've just let things slide instead of trying to be a 'bully'.I spent last night working through the court transcripts and most of the GW responses were laughable,it really didn't help them at all.

Stucarius said...

I agree with Oktane. I read all of the court docs also yesterday and it is amazing GW as a company has the corporate brain power to write their paychecks.

It almost takes your breath away. There is ZERO doubt that the person who really goes all the way back to the beginning as over stepping and mis-representing GW's IP is Alan Merrit.

I do not see how this guy keeps his job. Unless the GW scuptors I know lied to me through the years (going back to to talking to guys in the studio when he ran the department in the 90's) he actually even lied on the stand in the transcript I read. If not he he came really really close or would just claim he misunderstood the question. Yeah right.

Warlord22 said...

idk what you 2 guys are talking

IMO GW won this...
yes its now confirmd that you can steal the shoulderpad and what not design
like that didn´t happen before all the time -.-

and their image is not worse than before
you have to be 2 eye blind to not see that alll GW designs are based on other works and their way in acting with the community is bad

on the other hand GW got 25.k out of this and enforced some of their intressts

if at all WE are the losers by not getting new units in fluff or dex without model kit.

Stucarius said...

Warlord? Really? You are kidding right?

This case stripped GW of rights on several hundred pieces if IP they were claiming even though they did not have legal registers.

I made it clear to companies, particularly in the USA, that they can produce kits that can be used for 40K and Fantasy with out fear of GW reprisal.

The ruling also established that no violation exist in using the GW names and images on non GW sites so long as attribution is given.

GW finally had to show their hand that they could in reality not defend their integration of commonly held SciFI and Fantasy tropes in the production of their models and games.

GW wanted to not just get a large settlement from CHS but to shut them down and by implied threat shut down all other companies that make conversion kits.

This is a disaster for GW and I will not be surprised if heads roll at GW corporate for all the failures that occurred.


Warlord22 said...

Thats if you assume they ever had the Rights to the things they claimed to have rights for!

I really don´t see how this is a dissaster. They tryed to fight the "freelooters" (as GW calls them) and partially succeded. OFC they didn´t get everything they wanted (wich was ludacris expectations from the start).

They gave CHS a big hit. And the only thing that will happen from this is more companys comeing up with GW nockoffs. Its not like they have not been around for years allready, its just going to be more. Wich doesn´t mean it has to translate into GW loseing.

GW will just charge even higher if they don´t meet their expected profit goals.
And i don´t see them changeing away from their intimidation tactics towards other company or fanbase either.

BDN said...

Stucarius, this is in no way countering your point, I completely agree with you, but don't even try explaining to warlord. He is either trolling or just an idiot on all the 40k related blogs.

I'm glad that this is finally being resolved, and I hope GW corporate realizes that they have made a big booboo.

Zero said...

I don't think you need to resort to calling Warlord an idiot. He has a different take than you on what is a mixed verdict. Only time will tell what the real implications of this case was.

Wolfgard said...

So a $25,000 fine for a company that has revenue of $400,000 a year is a big hit?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

They probably have that much in operating reserves. A big hit would actually force them out of business and prevent other bits manufacturers from making GW compatible bits. When you consider that you can usually collect triple of actual damages for copyright/trademark infringements they let CHS off scott free.

Anyway, making alternative bits compatible with GW miniatures is in no way considered "making a knockoff of GW product" under they eyes of the law as long as you don't represent the parts as official GW parts.
If it was illegal to make alternative bits for GW product, Only Apple could sell accessories for their iPhones and iPads, only General Motors could sell parts and modification kits for GM cars. You can even make one product that looks like another as long as you don't represent it as the other one (Compare the Hyundai Genesis to the Mercedes S Class)

The only actual knockoffs are copied casts of GW miniatures made by the russians and chinese ebayers.

Anonymous said...

I'm just hoping that some of the better sculpting companies will get involved e.g. maximini, it'd be nice to see full ranges and xenos fortifications. Be nice to see all the characters that forgeworld have rules for with models.

Honour Guard said...

What GW was clearly trying to do here was to establish Forge World as the only company who is entitled to make bits, alternate parts and authorized variants for them. If they succeeded here they would have made a huge point in that direction. In that regard, they could be considered has to have lost (and i think they consider the same too). $ 25000 is really a symbolic fine too, even if CH is a small firm and maybe it's not so symbolic for them.

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