New Mechwarrior Game Faces Legal Threat

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New Mechwarrior Game Faces Legal Threat

Harmony Gold has sent a cease and desist letter to IGN over the promotional trailer for the recently-announced Mechwarrior game, a move that could signal big trouble ahead for plans to revive the classic giant robot franchise.

A brief history lesson: When Battletech debuted as a tabletop war game in 1984 it featured many mech designs "borrowed" from various Japanese anime series. But as the series grew in popularity, FASA, the company behind the game, decided to preempt potential lawsuits by dropping any and all material that wasn't developed in-house; as a result, many of the "classic" mech designs, like the Warhammer, Rifleman, Marauder, Archer and numerous others, simply disappeared from the game, coming to be known to fans as "the Unseen."

So when FASA founder Jordan Weisman announced in July that Piranha Games was rejuvenating the Mechwarrior franchise in conjunction with his new company, Smith & Tinker, by taking it back to the Third Succession War and re-introducing those long-lost designs, fans were happy. Very happy.

Unfortunately, there may be clouds on the horizon. Yesterday, IGN revealed that it had received a cease and desist order from Harmony Gold, the company behind the Robotech series, claiming that "the use of certain trademarked figures from the Robotech/Macross universe are prohibited as a result of a prior settlement that dates back to 1996." Among those trademarked figures, it's safe to bet, are at least some of the Unseen.

The specifics of Harmony Gold's complaint are currently unknown but it could represent a major stumbling block in the development of the new game. A Mechwarrior game set in the Third Succession War needs mechs appropriate to that era; otherwise, like a Second World War game without Tigers and Shermans, it's just not going to work.

Smith & Tinker issued a standard "no comment" when contacted by IGN and its impossible to divine Harmony Gold's motives at this point, but if it's determined to make life difficult for the Mechwarrior franchise then this party could be over before it even starts. We'll keep an eye on the situation and update when more information becomes available.

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I'll be upset if this franchise reboot gets shut down, but Harmony Gold deserves to get some royalties or something.

You said yourself, in first popularizing the series, FASA used their designs without permission. It seems now would be as good a time as any to give them that long overdue paycheck...

Robotech Vs. MechWarrior...
My childhood is ripping itself apart! :o

Also, I still have the MW2:Merc disc, but I can't figure out how to get it to work for the life of me. I've used DOSBOX, the CD in backwards-compatibility-mode, even advice from someone from the battlenet thingy. ;-;

I figured something like this would happen as soon as I saw that they were planning to include the 'Unseen'-- of course, I personally never was really fond of the Maurader: the MadCat was more my style, so meh.

But I don't understand why Harmony Gold is filing a C&D on the trailer currently posted on IGN-- I don't remember seeing any of the disputed intellectual property in said trailer. I suppose it may just be a preemptive move given the rumors about the inclusion of the Unseen in the finished product, but still, I'd tell them they had no grounds and they should stick their letter where the sun don't shine.

EDIT: I suppose the warhammer is one of the disputed designs, but I thought they had something very similar in MW3 & 4

Urge... to kill... rising... rising...

I'd love to see my ol' favourite, the Marauder, come back... but if they have to dump it (and the Warmhammer and the rest) to save the game I'll understand. But I do wish this stupid twenty-year-long (arguably one-sided) feud would end.

-- Steve

Erana:
Robotech Vs. MechWarrior...
My childhood is ripping itself apart! :o

Haha, my heart feels heavy too...

solidstatemind:
I don't understand why Harmony Gold is filing a C&D on the trailer currently posted on IGN-- I don't remember seeing any of the disputed intellectual property in said trailer. I suppose it may just be a preemptive move given the rumors about the inclusion of the Unseen in the finished product, but still, I'd tell them they had no grounds and they should stick their letter where the sun don't shine...

I'd prefer them to act preemptively and take care of this business now (while the game is still in development) rather than later (where the release date can be delayed)...

solidstatemind:
I suppose the warhammer is one of the disputed designs, but I thought they had something very similar in MW3 & 4

Maybe Harmony Gold allowed them to use it in the "behind-closed-doors" 1996 agreement the article talked about...

Harmony Gold can fuck right off. I want to see a new MechWarrior, preferably one untainted by needless changes caused by threat of litigation, damn it all.

it's kinda dumb really, not sure why they decided to put things back in without asking for permission or seeing if they'd get into trouble for it

Begs the question why don't they go for a quiet licensing deal?

Speculating here but I guess that's what Harmony Gold are shooting for, Battletech is established enough for it to be worth their while and it's hardly going to damage Robotech to have it's designs 'cameo' in another series.

If it means a few Robotech Logos and a cut of the profits it would be worth it from a fan's perspective to get the old mechs back. I suppose the sticking point would be how much Harmony Gold want versus how much Smith & Tinker can afford to pay.

Stil, better this happen in early(ish) development rather than a month before release.

Grrrrrrr.

While I LOVE Robotech(and only Robotech, the Macross Universe can fuck right off), I was always a fan of the Mechwarrior games and their knockoff, Earthseige. While I can see SOME of the unseen designs being direct ripoffs *coughMaraudercough*, some of them really don't look all that alike and I think Harmony Gold should calm down.

Unless it turns out they are making a new Robotech game......

I hope a MW game can still be made, but it doesn't really bother me that much; I had Heavy Gear as a kid, not MW.

Robotech is garbage and should fuck right off. The only thing they deserve credit for is taking the fool proof premise of giant robots and somehow making it lame.

Any sci-fi/fantasy property developed today borrows elements from every which way. Dead Space was pretty much a badly told retelling of Event Horizon or Doom 3, and George Lucas plagiarized every single SF property I can think of in his Star Wars prequels, including one of his aliens from the second one who was identical to a Zerg lurker from Starcraft: Brood War (who in turn took the Zerg race, the Goliath, the Dropship and God knows what else from the movie Aliens).

There are only so many ways to design humanoid inspired giant robots/mecha suits. If you're gonna go out of your way to make them resemble nothing else ever created, it's gonna look utterly stupid.

Anton P. Nym:
I'd love to see my ol' favourite, the Marauder, come back... but if they have to dump it (and the Warmhammer and the rest) to save the game I'll understand.

Not me. I've said it before, I'll say it again: No Marauder, no Malygris.

(I actually prefer the Warhammer but I'm a sucker for alliteration.)

Despite my child-like enjoyment of Robotech, I can't argue one very notable fact.

Harmony Gold is full of Douchebags, Epic Douche-Bags, though this has nothing to do with Battletech as FASA outright STOLE many designs from Macross, Fang of the Sun Dougram and other Anime series's from the eighties. Though apparently they settled with the Japanese Creators of these designs, which is more than good enough for me.

Harmony Gold is douche-baggy because they hold the NA copyright to all things Macross, and hence "pretend" that they are the creators of it, preventing any new Macross Material from getting to North America so they can continue bastardizing both Robotech and Macross with their new craptastic "Shadow Chronicles".

Anyway, yeah, Harmony Gold = Douchebags

Dump any designs in any way similar to anything Harmony Gold has in it's IP. Fuck Harmony Gold, long live Mechwarrior!!!

Besides, FASA stopped using the Robotech designs a long time ago. Now they are just bitching that the new Mechwarrior Mech's are too similar to the Robotech Mech's. It is all a bunch of BS IMHO. It is just another blatant money grab.

PedroSteckecilo:

Anyway, yeah, Harmony Gold = Douchebags

This is truth well spoken.

Byers:
Robotech is garbage and should fuck right off. The only thing they deserve credit for is taking the fool proof premise of giant robots and somehow making it lame.

Any sci-fi/fantasy property developed today borrows elements from every which way. Dead Space was pretty much a badly told retelling of Event Horizon or Doom 3, and George Lucas plagiarized every single SF property I can think of in his Star Wars prequels, including one of his aliens from the second one who was identical to a Zerg lurker from Starcraft: Brood War (who in turn took the Zerg race, the Goliath, the Dropship and God knows what else from the movie Aliens).

There are only so many ways to design humanoid inspired giant robots/mecha suits. If you're gonna go out of your way to make them resemble nothing else ever created, it's gonna look utterly stupid.

It's a somewhat different situation, FASA doesn't have "similar" designs, they used the same Line-Art that they copied from the Japanese Art Books, many of the early "mech manuals" feature drawings of Macross Mecha at the exact same ANGLE as they appear in the Japanese Art Books. The robot designs are EXACTLY the same in many cases, like the Archer and the Marauder, and very close in others.

It's not "homage," it's outright creative "theft" or "borrowing" if FASA didn't claim the work as their own.

Besides, what I really want from FASA now that they got the rights to Shadowrun back is a single player RPG set in that universe. That is what I want them working on. If they could do a RPG as deep and detailed as KOTOR I would be in gamer heaven!

This is bullocks. What happened to companies working together to make something epic instead of minor bickering over problems that are over ten years old. I guess I am just pissed that my hopes have been severly dashed considering my endless upon endless hours of playing all the MW series. Aw well hopefully things will work themselves out.

axia777:
Besides, what I really want from FASA now that they got the rights to Shadowrun back is a single player RPG set in that universe. That is what I want them working on. If they could do a RPG as deep and detailed as KOTOR I would be in gamer heaven!

Isn't this what we all want from FASA? Actually, I want a Single Player game based on Crimson Skies that combines the Air Action with On Foot Shooting. I know Dark Void will be "close" but it just won't be the same.

Besides, I don't know why this Mech Design thing is such a big deal, most of FASA's own designs like the Atlas, The Timberwolf and others are much more suited to the Battle Techn Universe than some "borrowed" Japanese ones that just don't seem right anymore.

Quick quiz: What's the last good thing Harmony Gold has done in the last decade that hasn't been a Robotech spinoff or re-release?

I'll wait.

Crimsane:
Harmony Gold can fuck right off. I want to see a new MechWarrior, preferably one untainted by needless changes caused by threat of litigation, damn it all.

I know, right? What are they thinking? It's not as if they're going to lose any sales over this, it looks like a legal shakedown. I could understand if Harmony Gold were going to be releasing a new anime featuring those designs, but they aren't, are they?

paragon1:

Crimsane:
Harmony Gold can fuck right off. I want to see a new MechWarrior, preferably one untainted by needless changes caused by threat of litigation, damn it all.

I know, right? What are they thinking? It's not as if they're going to lose any sales over this, it looks like a legal shakedown. I could understand if Harmony Gold were going to be releasing a new anime featuring those designs, but they aren't, are they?

Yep, the stupid ass Shadow Chronicles crap that they're using as an excuse to block any NA releases of any of the GOOD Macross stuff from Japan.

But as the good Cmdr. Breetai has noted, Harmony Gold basically has "Robotech" in its stable, that's it.

Commander Breetai:
Quick quiz: What's the last good thing Harmony Gold has done in the last decade that hasn't been a Robotech spinoff or re-release?

I'll wait.

0

axia777:
Besides, what I really want from FASA now that they got the rights to Shadowrun back is a single player RPG set in that universe. That is what I want them working on. If they could do a RPG as deep and detailed as KOTOR I would be in gamer heaven!

Quote for Truth.

I hope the lawyers can just get this settled between themselves. That new game looks fantastic, even if I'm going to have to play it on an xbox instead of the PC where it belongs.

Godddamns. I already had seen a story that, preemptively, Catalyst Game Labs learned they actually couldn't use the unseen designs like they originally, but this is just making it more complicated. Yes, FASA did rip off Robotech big-time back in the day (or they licensed the images under dubious circumstances, it's all very confusing), but the point is this is 2009 and this really needs to be settled in a mature way. The "unseen" designs are as much a part of Battletech as they are of Robotech, to the point they're only the same in the way they look.

Okay, so they copied some old Robotech designs. That happens a lot in the industry. By now the designs have changed enough that they could pretty much stand on their own anyways. If this lawsuit wastes away the new Mechwarrior game I will be pissed... very pissed.

Jhereg42:

axia777:
Besides, what I really want from FASA now that they got the rights to Shadowrun back is a single player RPG set in that universe. That is what I want them working on. If they could do a RPG as deep and detailed as KOTOR I would be in gamer heaven!

Quote for Truth.

I will "Quote for Truth" on us again just because it is to damn true.

Come the fuck on Harmony Gold! Just let them use the damn designs! It's not like you're doing anything with them!

BakaSmurf:
Come the fuck on Harmony Gold! Just let them use the damn designs! It's not like you're doing anything with them!

I'd argue on behalf of Shouji Kowamori, the original designer of those mechs, but Harmony Gold is fucking him over too!

The mechwarrior guys should find a way to get the creators of the original anime shows that harmony ripped off for robotech to give them permission, that sort this issue alot faster and easier than any crap harmony gold can try to pull in court, its time harmony got there asses handed to them in a court case after all these years of sitting on the rights and doing sod all with them.

another way to shut them up would be to change the designs ever so slightly so that harmony gold cant sue over copyright infringement as the designs ont match.

PedroSteckecilo:

BakaSmurf:
Come the fuck on Harmony Gold! Just let them use the damn designs! It's not like you're doing anything with them!

I'd argue on behalf of Shouji Kowamori, the original designer of those mechs, but Harmony Gold is fucking him over too!

Er, can you start providing links to these stories of skullduggery?

It's not that I don't trust you, I just want to know exactly what is going on here.

A bit more information on what exactly is going on -

Original article - Sometimes Things Just Don't Go As You Want Them To

So it's likely this will not effect the release of the new game that much, but unless they can come to some kind of deal it's doubtful we will see those specific models.

Slycne:
A bit more information on what exactly is going on -

Original article - Sometimes Things Just Don't Go As You Want Them To

So it's likely this will not effect the release of the new game that much, but unless they can come to some kind of deal it's doubtful we will see those specific models.

The problem is that those 12 designs, since they're all from Robotech/Macross, also happen to be 12 of the more iconic and beloved designs of the unseen among fans. Hence my own consternation

Does Harmony Gold own the rights to ALL things Macross? If not, they could use the updates versions of the original mecha from Macross 2 or Frontier. They're not identical, but close enough that some sort of retcon could be instated.

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