A game developer that received a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer representing William Shatner over plans to use the actor’s image in a game mod was forced to point out one minor problem with the complaint: The mod doesn’t actually exist.
With titles like Jackass: The Game and Speed Racer to its credit, New Zealand-based Sidhe might not be the most accomplished developer in the world, but it did achieve some acclaim for the 2009 PlayStation 3 game Shatter, a brick-smashing game in the tradition of Breakout and Arkanoid.
All was well until Game Console decided to use the game in a satirical news piece, “revealing” to the world that Sidhe was working on a mod for Shatter called Shatner. The mod, so the report claimed, featured a background of Shatner’s famous “Khan!” face, little Shatner heads in place of game blocks and Bob Dylan’s “Tambourine Man” as in-game music, presumably the version Shatner covered in 1968.
It was a cute idea but apparently a little too subtle for Shatner’s lawyers, who quickly whipped off a letter to Sidhe demanding that all work on the mod be halted immediately. “We represent William Shatner and it has come to our attention that you are planning to develop or have already developed and will soon place on the market for commercial sale a digital game utilizing our client’s name and likeness,” the letter said.
“Please be advised that you are to immediately cease and desist the further development, production, and or distribution of the game Shatner or any other product that uses William Shatner’s name or likeness without first obtaining his approval,” it continued. “We have notified both Paramount and Bob Dylan’s representative of your intentions. Please confirm receipt of this e-mail and your response to so cease and desist. Failure to do so will leave us no alternative but to commence legal proceedings.”
In response, Sidhe Managing Director Mario Wynands sent a letter of his own, pointing out that the Shatner mod didn’t actually exist. Noting that everyone at the company had the “utmost respect for Mr. William Shatner and the licensing process,” he wrote, “The GameConsole ‘report’ you reference is what is commonly referred to on the internet as a ‘joke’. The article is a parody of our game, and has no basis in reality in that it does not in any way reflect our intentions for further development of the Shatter IP or relate to any official statement we have made relating to the game.”
Bit of a pity, actually. Shatter looks mildly interesting, but Shatner? I’d buy that in a second.