Sunday, November 23, 2014

Games Workshop vs. Chapterhouse Studios

 

The famed Chapterhouse vs Games Worhshop case has been ongoing for over 2 years.  It's over at last...

 
This is a big case for anyone who uses the resin aftermarket.  I have always said that this case really doesn't mean much as Chapterhouse really screwed themselves, whereas all teh other resin manufacturers are smart in not using GW IP directly.

Here is a summary from Larry at BoLS.

Previously...

One month ago, Chapterhousemade an announcement on thier facebook page that they have had assets frozen pending an appearance in court to have the decision reversed.

Chapterhouse Facebook

Our assets have been frozen.
Yes, thats pretty much the issue. Many of you may know that Games Workshop has been in a legal battle with us for almost 4 years now.. maybe its 5...
Anyways, they have asked the courts to freeze our assets and this has happened, this happened early September, not long after I posted the photos of the last set of products that were being produced and almost ready to ship.
What does this mean? #1 we have no means to ship or produce or pay for anything... and I mean anything, internet, phone, gas, nothing. We cant use or accept funds (well technically we can accept but I wont do that without a means to ship out new orders).
#2 the demon lines are sitting at the casters, waiting to be shipped but not able to be shipped to us. Even if they were shipped to me, I couldnt ship them out since they are technically "assets" and I am not allowed to ship them out.
#3 the company infrastructure, email, website, is pretty much frozen.
I am flying out (which GW allowed us to buy a ticket) to chicago next week to step in front of the courts and plead my case to have assets released and do business as normal until the appeal is addressed.
For those of you who are understandably upset, I am sorry, this has been a long and hard road and many of you have stood by me. I wish it was better but its been very stressful and now I have learned that its not only my company at risk but my personal assets and home are being threatened as well now.
Ill do my best to keep you all apprised.
And to be clear, no orders were taken after I found about about the freeze mid september.
Any orders that have issues were due to customers not putting in correct addresses and a new shipment needing to be sent (and couldnt due to the freeze).
Or lost orders in the postal system.
Nick
And Now...
Over the weekend, word broke that both parties reached a settlement.  Paperwork has been jointly filed (see below) by both parties with the Chicago court to withdraw all pending litigation due to a private settlement that had been reached by both parties.

The details of the settlement are not disclosed and in almost all legal cases are sealed.  So we will have to look for signs of what happened "from the outside".

This case has been a long twisting road full of victories and defeats for both sides along the way.  Here are the final motions:





Memorable Moments From the Case:
Games Workshop vs Chapterhouse Trial Begins 6-3-2013
Games Workshop vs Chapterhouse Trial So Far 6-13-2013
Chapterhouse Attorney's Declare Victory Over GW 6-18-2013



So stay tuned in case any more news leaks out!


Loken


8 comments:

DarianZG said...

Maybe someone with greater understanding of the legalities of IP law can chime in and provide me with better perspective, but I'm confused as to why GW even had a leg to stand on with this.

I spent nearly a decade in the automotive industry, primarily with the aftermarket manufacturers for performance/racing parts. I'll use an example that most people might recognize; K&N Air Filters.

K&N makes different lines of performance products from reusable air filters to oil filters, etc. They make a model for almost every car on the road.

K&N, in their catalog, even says "This part is for a Ford Mustang" or whatever model car you drive. K&N does not claim to manufacture the Mustang, they only make replacement, aftermarket performance parts.

There are other companies that make even more outrageous parts such as engine blocks, cylinder heads, turbochargers, all to replace the factory parts or even add functionality that the original parts didn't have. The manufacturers of these aftermarket parts do not claim to be the owner of the IP they make parts for, and the people who buy the products are not so stupid to think otherwise.

When I see Chapterhouse Studios bits, I see aftermarket parts that I can use to upgrade my Games Workshop models.

Can anyone explain why this is any different?

Daniel Grundy said...

Basically, it's because what K&N do won't stop ford in the future making an improved air filter, in the case of chapter house making models that GW are yet to release they get rights over the product (like the spore pod) making harder for GW to later produce that kit. Both the Mycetic spore and Throgg the Troll king are examples of models that a third party made before GW had chance to release forcing a significant re design from the original artwork as that artwork had been used by third parties to make a model giving them the IP of the model,

Dark Angel 2020 said...

You'll also find that third party manufacturers are very careful about how they advertise their products. Yes they might say what their kits are compatible with, but they do not advertise their products next to each other.

The K&N example is actually a really good example of this, if you go to their website you'll be hard pressed to find photographs of their filters actually on the cars they fit.

The problem with Chapterhouse is that they were very blatant about showing how their kits fitted with GW products (see example:) http://1d4chan.org/images/5/5b/CH_Heresy-Era_Terminator.jpg

This can cause the issue of product confusion to arise, which is a significant factor in IP law, though separate from litigating over similar designs (which is a legal argument in itself)

DarianZG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DarianZG said...

Dark Angel 2020,

You'll have to forgive me as I mean no insult when I state this is wholly incorrect. Having spent decades in the automotive industry, I've been on all sides of the market from first party IP holder, to aftermarket manufacturer, to print publishing/magazine distribution. Sorry, but the idea of the product not being featured on the item it's being advertised for is simply incorrect. Open up any automotive magazine and you'll find independent retailer advertisement showing said aftermarket products being featured on the vehicle it's designed for.

Case in point, this is just off a cursory search regarding aftermarket intakes for the Scion FR-S.

http://www.greddy.com/upload/img/12519003_tC_CAI_b.jpg

You'd rarely find a product not being featured on the vehicle it's designed for.

In fact, the visual reference is actually more helpful because it allows the buyer to see how the system fits on their particular application. Otherwise body kit companies would have a difficult time selling their aero parts for cars since the buyers are unable to see what the kit actually looks like when it's been applied to that vehicle.

As I stated above, while the aftermarket manufacturer will make components for a particular application, there is never any confusion that the aftermarket manufacturer doesn't own the first party IP.

And to Daniel Grundy,

That's an interesting point, and it shows the inconsistency of how this is being applied. While I could list numerous applicable instances in the automotive industry this has happened, in many instances it has led to an increase in sales for the first party manufacturer when they've had to go back and redesign or reimagine something that a third party manufacturer built first.

But the automotive aftermarket industry is an interesting comparison because for the most part, third party manufacturers have a ubiquitous goal of increasing performance of the vehicle. This is then ultimately in the best interest of the automotive manufacturer as well because 1) the more aftermarket applications are available, the greater the popularity of that vehicle in that demographic. and 2) it keeps the automotive manufacturer aware of what marketing trends are viable and popular.

A good example of this are in-dash navigation systems that are standard on vehicles, thus precluding the need for a buyer to buy a third party GPS system. Before the advent of in-dash systems, buyers would have to use a third party manufactured device. Thus auto manufacturers overcame that by simply making the device standard.

If GW were smarter, it would have been much more beneficial to the community by looking at what kits Chapterhouse was selling as the most popular and then simply release their own, better/higher quality sculpt.

Forge World was very smart about this when they started their Horus Heresy line. For the longest time they were adamant they wouldn't do a Heresy line of products. But looking at how many DIY Heresy-shoulder pads tutorials and third party manufacturers there were, at least this way Forge World beat them by coming out with an official product that satisfied the demand for that item.

Dark Angel 2020 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dark Angel 2020 said...

Darian ZG,

I had to consult the IP graduate (the wife) on this and we did a bit of research into the matter.

Please bear in mind that my wife and I are from the United Kingdom, while I realise this case in particular was held in the United States I can only work with our understanding of the law.

Under normal IP design law (EC regulation 98/71) the originator has exclusive rights to their product and how it might be used, this includes advertising or prohibiting the sale or use of products based upon their design. But it does not cover private / non-commercial / experimental research / educational /illustrative uses.

This all depends upon the design being registered as a copyright of course, which I must make the strong assumption that Games Workshop have at least registered for the design of the Space Marine model.

I do however stand corrected in my comparison to car parts however, as we discovered that Motor vehicle part are *explicitly* exempted from certain aspects of copyright design law by EC regulation 1400/2002 and later EU regulation 461/2010 for reasons of maintaining a "status quo" and "public health" as motor vehicles are often considered a necessity for modern life. Also Motor vehicles constituted a "Complex Product" in that they are made up of so many different components that it becomes impractical to adequately protect every single component.

Plastic models despite often being both complex and made of multiple components, simply do not qualify.

Furthermore, the issue of confusion does not arise with third party vehicle component manufacturers because vehicles are "complex", therefore adding individual components does not take away that much from the first product. Adding modifications to plastic models as small as your thumb can almost constitute a complete rebuild of the primary product.

Despite being exempted from design regulations, third-party motor vehicle parts are still restricted in the regulations in that: if a "spare part" they must match the quality of the part they replace or if they are an "original part" they must still match the standards of components held by the first manufacturer. Therefore something they have to look out for or potentially suffer litigation.

DarianZG said...

Thank you for that information. That's actually very interesting to know that automotive parts are exempt from certain aspects. I don't know if the same holds true in the US, but that does give some potential extra perspective given that Games Workshop is a UK company. I appreciate the insight. :-)

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