Warhammer Company Makes "Space Marine" Trademark Claim

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Therumancer:
snipped, sorry but it was of a non quotable length

Now here is the thing the example you mention all involve taking some elements from one series and using it in another. That is not what the dispute is about. The dispute is about the term Space Marine.

Blizzard asked permission, fuck they even have a contract about this thing. However they are directly using material from the story. They use elements from the things made by GW. Let's take a look at a fan made movie. Damnatus. Here we have a fan movie which uses the term Space Marines and intends this term to reference Space Marines as created by GW.

These people did not ask permission and in the end were pulled. Is that a good thing? No. Is it outside of GW's jurisdiction to pull such a dick move? No. Which is why no one peeped about it except sad posts about how it might have been a good movie. Here we have people using parts of GW's work to create something else.

The TERM Space Marines? No matter how it got popularized the term was around and has been used before Warhammer 40k. I think Halo had more to do with Space Marine popularization than GW, the UNSC Marines.

Now had this author written a fan fiction set in the Space Marine universe there would be a reason to ask GW out of courtesy and basic legal reasons.

The book itself had on the Amazon page the following description "Pollyanna meets Starship Troopers in this..." The author admits to using certain works for influence. Do you see the estate of Heinlein cracking down here? No it's GW with what basically amounts to a fucking DMCA troll flag on only ONE version of the book.

The book is for sale. Just not the E-book version. This is blatant abuse of copyrights claims because there IS no copyright on Space Marines.

I do not have to ask Bram Stokers descendants if I'm allowed to use Vampires in my story.
I do not have to ask Romero if it's okay to make a zombie movie.
I do not have to ask GW if I can have Military Personnel of the Marines branch in my book that is set in outer space.

Simply put GW does not own the term Space Marines and they should never own the term Space Marines. If anyone should own it it's Bob Olsen for writing the story "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" there right in the title, the first use ever of Space Marines.

The difference between GW and Bob is that Bob could technically shut down their entire Space Marine branch seeing as technically speaking Copyright on his story would last well into 2040. So if the dude had enough money he could screw GW sideways in expensive legal battles for using the term Space Marines. Barring the fact that he's long since dead.

This is of course just an exaggeration but this shows exactly the problem with copyright or trademark claims. It doesn't even have to be about who came up with it first or how much influence they actually took from the story it first appeared in. As long as it is some tangential connection to a term often used in a piece of fiction they can make a copyright claim, despite not actually having a trademark or anything on it.

I personally like 40k but for crying out loud, this is fucking ridiculous.

I want to know what is going on in the minds of the owners of Warhammer, a science fiction franchise that built its popularity on common scifi tropes, by now suing those who are utilizing scifi tropes.

bastardofmelbourne:

itchcrotch:
I don't think you can trademark that name. You can't trade mark the concept of a marine in space, so I don't think you should be able to trademark the most obvious and default sounding term to refer to said concept either.

You can, otherwise Starship Troopers wouldn't be a trademark.

This is called "acquired distinctiveness." It's the opposite of genericisation; a descriptive term, say Space Marine or Starship Troopers, becomes so closely associated with the company using it that it acquires the ability to distinguish that company's products. For example, "coke" used to refer to a type of fuel. Now it's a brand of soft drink. "Valve" is just a engineering term. Now it's a premier video game company. See how it works?

Yes, thankyou, I know how it works, I'm just saying I don't think it should work that way.

bastardofmelbourne:

itchcrotch:
I don't think you can trademark that name. You can't trade mark the concept of a marine in space, so I don't think you should be able to trademark the most obvious and default sounding term to refer to said concept either.

You can, otherwise Starship Troopers wouldn't be a trademark.

This is called "acquired distinctiveness." It's the opposite of genericisation; a descriptive term, say Space Marine or Starship Troopers, becomes so closely associated with the company using it that it acquires the ability to distinguish that company's products. For example, "coke" used to refer to a type of fuel. Now it's a brand of soft drink. "Valve" is just a engineering term. Now it's a premier video game company. See how it works?

No, that covers Coke as a beverage, while the term coke as a solid black fuel is obviously distinct.

GamesWorkshop are using the same name and referring to the SAME THING. It's not distinct. Space Marine as a type of soldier is what they are trying to claim ownership of yet a Space Marine as a type of soldier pre-dates their earliest work by DECADES! They openly admit in their early magazine publications to being derivative., their own words betray their evidence both of prior art and that they knew of it.

And Valve and Coca Cola aren't stopping anyone making any references to Coke nor Valves. You'll find plenty of published references (including in titles) to "Coke" as a drug and as a fuel, and engineering and many other publications continues to use the term Valve without any legal threats from Valve corporation.

Treblaine:
No, that covers Coke as a beverage, while the term coke as a solid black fuel is obviously distinct.

GamesWorkshop are using the same name and referring to the SAME THING. It's not distinct. Space Marine as a type of soldier is what they are trying to claim ownership of yet a Space Marine as a type of soldier pre-dates their earliest work by DECADES! They openly admit in their early magazine publications to being derivative., their own words betray their evidence both of prior art and that they knew of it.

And Valve and Coca Cola aren't stopping anyone making any references to Coke nor Valves. You'll find plenty of published references (including in titles) to "Coke" as a drug and as a fuel, and engineering and many other publications continues to use the term Valve without any legal threats from Valve corporation.

I think you missed my point. I was simply pointing out that generic and descriptive terms (Space Marine, Starship Troopers, coke) can acquire distinctiveness through becoming closely associated with a certain type of product.

I also - and I mean to say this politely - don't think you understand what a trademark is. You seem to think Games Workshop is trademarking the concept of a space marine. That can't happen. You don't trademark concepts, because people don't use concepts to market products. They use words or images.

Furthermore, you register trademarks in specific classes of product. Those trademarks are only enforceable in those classes of product. This is because, as you noticed, it's impossible for customers to really confuse Coke (the soft drink) and coke (the carbonaceous fuel).

Furthermore, having a trademark over a word doesn't stop people using the word. It stops them using that word as a trademark. That's a different thing. I can say Space Marine all I like. I can say valve and coke and Starship Troopers all I like. I just can't sell things under that name. I can't sell software under the name Valve Inc. I can't sell an energy drink called Coke. I can't sell a book called Starship Troopers. I can't sell a game called Space Marine.

This point specifically;

Treblaine:
And Valve and Coca Cola aren't stopping anyone making any references to Coke nor Valves. You'll find plenty of published references (including in titles) to "Coke" as a drug and as a fuel, and engineering and many other publications continues to use the term Valve without any legal threats from Valve corporation.

is mistaken for that reason. Valve and Coke don't refrain from suing people because they're good-hearted souls. It's because no-one is infringing on their trademark, because their trademarks are limited to certain classes of goods and only prevent use of the word as a trademark. Using valve as an engineering term, or coke as a slang for an illegal narcotic, is not use as a trademark.

Here, Games Workshop are in the business of selling books. That means they have a reputation in that class of goods. That's why they're suing to stop people publishing books with "Space Marine" in their title. They're not stopping people from using space marines, as in space-faring naval infantry. They're stopping people from using the trademark "Space Marine." There's a difference.

1337mokro:
snippity!

copyright =/= trademark

Sorry if I come off as pedantic. It really is a very important distinction, and your post kind of conflates the two.

Katatori-kun:
This would all be a very legitimate claim if it weren't for the fact that GW is suing a book that has nothing whatsoever to do with their products, their market, or their games. They would not lose one dime by letting this book exist.

Technically, no, they wouldn't lose any money. But they could lose their trademark, and that's worth quite a lot of money.

I basically explained why a few posts above yours, but essentially, if they don't contest any use of the term "Space Marine," it could later be used as evidence in support of a competitor trying to strike GW's Space Marine trademark from the EU registry. It isn't really a case of GW being evil as it is them being legally prudent.

Space Jawa:
If they wanted a trademark on their little armored space people, they should have come up with a new word for them first.

I think you're working backwards here. Way back in the 70s, when Warhammer was getting started, they probably picked whatever words they thought were appropriate. When you're worldbuilding, you just need names, and they can't all be super distinctive. These guys are like Royal Marines, but they're in space, so they're Space Marines. "Bolt" is an old word for crossbow ammunition, so their guns are "bolters." Our artist drew a sword that has a chainsaw blade; guess it's a chainsword! Whatever. You need to name things. You can't call everything a smeerp or a zwashbuck.

The problem then is that 40k took off and GW is stuck with a highly descriptive trademark that they have a reputation in, to the extent that they publish rulebooks with Space Marine in the title. They can't change the name to something more distinctive, like Adeptus Astartes; they'll lose the reputation they already have. So they're stuck defending a very weak trademark for as long as they possibly can.

And honestly, it's kind of impossible to predict which terms are going to become generic. Space Marine and Rogue Trader are both ultimately descriptive terms, but one entered sci-fi jargon and the other stayed relatively obscure. And no-one's asking GW to give up their Rogue Trade trademark, are they?

Darks63:
Ty i can see the point of it now but it is still from a PR standpoint kinda of a bad move, like when they sued all those fan-sites a while back and yes i know the reason they did that but it still angered alot of fans.

Ironically - and I know how absurd this sounds - Games Workshop is willing to look like total asshats in order to protect their reputation.

Crazy! Nonsense, you say! But that's how it works. We live in a very silly world.

bastardofmelbourne:

Treblaine:
No, that covers Coke as a beverage, while the term coke as a solid black fuel is obviously distinct.

GamesWorkshop are using the same name and referring to the SAME THING. It's not distinct. Space Marine as a type of soldier is what they are trying to claim ownership of yet a Space Marine as a type of soldier pre-dates their earliest work by DECADES! They openly admit in their early magazine publications to being derivative., their own words betray their evidence both of prior art and that they knew of it.

And Valve and Coca Cola aren't stopping anyone making any references to Coke nor Valves. You'll find plenty of published references (including in titles) to "Coke" as a drug and as a fuel, and engineering and many other publications continues to use the term Valve without any legal threats from Valve corporation.

I think you missed my point. I was simply pointing out that generic and descriptive terms (Space Marine, Starship Troopers, coke) can acquire distinctiveness through becoming closely associated with a certain type of product.

I also - and I mean to say this politely - don't think you understand what a trademark is. You seem to think Games Workshop is trademarking the concept of a space marine. That can't happen. You don't trademark concepts, because people don't use concepts to market products. They use words or images.

Furthermore, you register trademarks in specific classes of product. Those trademarks are only enforceable in those classes of product. This is because, as you noticed, it's impossible for customers to really confuse Coke (the soft drink) and coke (the carbonaceous fuel).

Furthermore, having a trademark over a word doesn't stop people using the word. It stops them using that word as a trademark. That's a different thing. I can say Space Marine all I like. I can say valve and coke and Starship Troopers all I like. I just can't sell things under that name. I can't sell software under the name Valve Inc. I can't sell an energy drink called Coke. I can't sell a book called Starship Troopers. I can't sell a game called Space Marine.

This point specifically;

Treblaine:
And Valve and Coca Cola aren't stopping anyone making any references to Coke nor Valves. You'll find plenty of published references (including in titles) to "Coke" as a drug and as a fuel, and engineering and many other publications continues to use the term Valve without any legal threats from Valve corporation.

is mistaken for that reason. Valve and Coke don't refrain from suing people because they're good-hearted souls. It's because no-one is infringing on their trademark, because their trademarks are limited to certain classes of goods and only prevent use of the word as a trademark. Using valve as an engineering term, or coke as a slang for an illegal narcotic, is not use as a trademark.

Here, Games Workshop are in the business of selling books. That means they have a reputation in that class of goods. That's why they're suing to stop people publishing books with "Space Marine" in their title. They're not stopping people from using space marines, as in space-faring naval infantry. They're stopping people from using the trademark "Space Marine." There's a difference.

GamesWorkshop's legal threat is entirely baseless and should be considered a criminal use of intimidation. I wish judges would throw the book more forcefully at both corporations and legal practices who send such threats without backing of a legal ruling.

I also - and I mean to say this politely - don't think you understand what a trademark is. You seem to think Games Workshop is trademarking the concept of a space marine. That can't happen. You don't trademark concepts, because people don't use concepts to market products. They use words or images.

I know that. I also know trademarks depends on context.

Example being, people aren't violating the Coke trademark to sell a sack of solid fuel labelled "Coke".

The ONLY place the GamesWorkshop "Space Marine" trademark is valid is when referring SPECIFICALLY to the Space Marines of WarHammer 40'000, not when referring to ANY futuristic military warrior in space.

Because of prior art referring so futuristic soldiers as "Space Marines". And continuously for the past half century I might add.

I can't sell a game called Space Marine.

Yes you damn well can. Anyone can.

PRIOR

ART!

You have officially pissed me off.

Valve and Coke don't refrain from suing people because they're good-hearted souls.

No they do. They could make threats and count on scaring them off with high legal fees but they don't.

GamesWorkshop is making this threat because they are NOT good hearted. They have so obviously made this threat in bad faith.

I don't see what's so hard to understand...

This isn't like a company trademarking the name "Coke" for a beverage.

This is like a company trademarking the name "coke" for the type of fuel known as coke. Now no one else can sell coke as "coke" , to spite the fact everyone has know this common fuel as coke and sold it as coke for years. That's blatantly abusing the legal system not to protect your own brand but simply to screw others over.

Their trademark is. not. valid.

Simply because they applied for it and got it rubber stamped doesn't throw all precedent out of the window.

It's their own damn fault for choosing such a generic term. The only reason, be clear the ONLY reason they are able to get away with this is money. They are rich, she is not, no chance of her day in court to prove what is obvious to anyone who knows anything about this. And they'll do this to a hundred other little authors, every defeat strengthening their fallacious claim.

What the hell does a trademark clerk know? If they don't know Sci-Fi they'll just rubber stamp it not knowing it's like a crime writer trying to trademark "Detective".

Stop and think what happens if GamesWorkshop does nothing... they will not be hurt at all.

People will be able to write books with "Space Marine" in the title and it won't affect their business in the damn slightest bit. Probably it will be improved by having people generally more interested in futuristic warfare.

Because this "trademark claim" (and I'm no more than that) is as generic as it gets.

bastardofmelbourne:
Technically, no, they wouldn't lose any money. But they could lose their trademark, and that's worth quite a lot of money.

No, It's not worth a lot. It's worthless. It simply COST a lot. Past tense.

They have already spent the money, and it was worthless then as it was such a generic term in Sci-fi. Spending more money sending threatening letters to small authors isn't going to help them financially.

it could later be used as evidence in support of a competitor trying to strike GW's Space Marine trademark from the EU registry.

Yeah. And?

A crime writer don't need to own the trademark of the term "Private investigator" to write a story about a private investigator.

They still have the "WarHammer 40'000" trademark which is their actually IDENTIFIABLE trademark, and one that they have used extensively and consistently.

Our artist drew a sword that has a chainsaw blade; guess it's a chainsword! Whatever. You need to name things. You can't call everything a smeerp or a zwashbuck.

"our"? "Our artists"?

Up till now you've been referring to GamesWorkshop in the third person. As if you are a separate and independent observer.

Did you declare in this forum that you are a mouthpiece for GameWorkshop?

are going to become generic

Don't play dumb, it was generic even when YOUR COMPANY made the claim.

They can't change the name to something more distinctive

Of course they can, here, what you couldn't figure out in quarter of a damn century:

Imperial Space Marines

Just like how the American marines distinguish themselves from other marines by calling themselves US Marines, of the US Marine Corps. And the Space marines of Warhammer 40'000 are distinct from other space marines by how they are Imperial, of the Emperor's Empire.

There is no way your company couldn't have come up with this solution in 25 years unless GW didn't even want to even try.

That's a very angry response, and I have no idea what prompted it. I'm just trying to explain trademark law to people. It's not something that everybody knows about, and I have a law degree, so I know a little bit about it. That's all.

I mean, you said a whole lot of shit in those two posts that is really, really wrong, but something tells me that pointing that out will only make you angrier.

bastardofmelbourne:
That's a very angry response, and I have no idea what prompted it. I'm just trying to explain trademark law to people.

No you are not. You are misrepresenting this case to suit a company you seem to work for.

It's not something that everybody knows about, and I have a law degree, so I know a little bit about it. That's all.

Thank god legal professional never lie by omission or otherwise... especially when not under fear of perjury and behind a veil of anonymity.

I mean, you said a whole lot of shit in those two posts that is really, really wrong, but something tells me that pointing that out will only make you angrier.

Like what? What precisely is wrong?

Can't go into specifics? Or won't... I think we ALL can figure out why.

Treblaine:
No you are not. You are misrepresenting this case to suit a company you seem to work for.

I'm 23. I live in Melbourne (the clue's in the name.) I don't work for Games Workshop. I'm not even a lawyer; just a law student. If I've misrepresented the law in some way, I would be happy if you could explain how.

Thank god legal professional never lie by omission or otherwise... especially when not under fear of perjury and behind a veil of anonymity.

I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. If you're trying to play on the evil lawyer stereotype, well, congratulations. You're very imaginative.

Like what? What precisely is wrong?

Can't go into specifics? Or won't... I think we ALL can figure out why.

Won't. Because I thought it would just make you angrier.

But since you asked.

GamesWorkshop's legal threat is entirely baseless and should be considered a criminal use of intimidation. I wish judges would throw the book more forcefully at both corporations and legal practices who send such threats without backing of a legal ruling.

As I explained above, if Games Workshop does not contest the use of any terms similar to its trademark through litigation, that inaction could later be used against them in proceedings to strike their trademark from the registry. While this system of litigation is distasteful and I certainly don't care for it, Games Workshop's lawyers are in fact ethically obliged to act in this manner.

Bear in mind that there are systems in place to prevent abuse of process through frivolous lawsuits. The bar is quite high, and Games Workshop's actions would not qualify in this circumstance. Note that there is a distinction between a lawsuit that has little chance of success and a frivolous lawsuit. One common element is whether or not the lawsuit has been brought for an ulterior motive. There is no ulterior motive here. Games Workshop's stated motive (to prevent the author of the offending novel from infringing on their trademark) is their actual motive. It is a legitimate motive, and they have a prima facie case. It may ultimately not be supported by the evidence, but it is enough that a judge should get a chance to look at it.

Example being, people aren't violating the Coke trademark to sell a sack of solid fuel labelled "Coke".

The use of "Coke" (the carbonaceous fuel) as a trademark would be invalid, as coke (the fuel) is a term descriptive of many possible products - such as coke sold by a competitor. Therefore, in your example, there is no trademark infringement because there is no trademark.

This would be like me registering a trademark for "cars" and selling actual cars. There is nothing that distinguishes my cars from my competitor's cars. The ultimate purpose of a trademark is to distinguish products. If there is no distinction, there is no trademark. Games Workshop brings litigation of this nature specifically to enforce the distinctiveness of their (now very generic) mark.

The ONLY place the GamesWorkshop "Space Marine" trademark is valid is when referring SPECIFICALLY to the Space Marines of WarHammer 40'000, not when referring to ANY futuristic military warrior in space.

Because trademarks are registered in respect of defined classes of goods, Games Workshop's "Space Marine" trademark is enforceable (read: valid) in respect of those defined classes of goods. In this specific case, ebooks. Any good in that class with a confusingly similar name is a potential infringement. GW's trademark is not "only valid" when referring to Games Workshop's specific product, and such a statement is in fact ridiculous upon examination, as it would logically follow that a trademark is only valid when referring to the specific trademarked product; this would make it impossible to actually prevent trademark infringement, as your trademark is not "valid" in respect of the infringing product.

Because of prior art referring so futuristic soldiers as "Space Marines". And continuously for the past half century I might add.

The presence of prior art is not relevant. You are confusing trademark and copyright law. Unless that art was used as a common law or registered trademark, it does not invalidate Games Workshop's trademark.

Yes you damn well can. Anyone can.
PRIOR
ART!

You have officially pissed me off.

I'm sorry for pissing you off. But you cannot release a game called "Space Marine"; at least, not without the addition of a distinctive element that would distinguish it from Games Workshop's (or potentially Relic/THQ's, but that's obviously not clear at the moment) registered trademark for "Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine," a video game released in 2011.

An example. Say I want to release a game called Dawn of War. This is trademark infringement, even though the trademark I would be infringing upon is technically titled "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War." This is because from a consumer perspective, and indeed in common parlance, the game is simply called Dawn of War, just as "Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine" was simply called Space Marine.

The release of a game called "Space Marine" would infringe on GW's trademark (specifically their trademark for the video game) because it is confusingly similar - that is, a consumer could confuse the two products. This is not impossible; people get DayZ and The War Z confused, and they are much more distinct than two games, one of which is called "Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine" and the other is called "Space Marine."

This is very basic stuff. I am basically explaining how trademark infringement works. I should not have to do this.

No they do. They could make threats and count on scaring them off with high legal fees but they don't.

This popped up on a cursory Google search. I don't know the validity of the source (literally plucked this off Google in ten seconds) but you should read the part about Coca-Cola's "vigorous" protection of their trademark. Then you can come back and tell me that Coca-Cola don't sue people for trademark infringement, and this time you'll know you're wrong ahead of time.

GamesWorkshop is making this threat because they are NOT good hearted. They have so obviously made this threat in bad faith.

I don't see what's so hard to understand...

Which of these is more plausible?

- that Games Workshop is prepared to embark on expensive litigation at the risk of making themselves look like total asshats to their own fans because they are evil and like stomping on the dreams of aspiring young authors,
- that Games Workshop is prepared to embark on expensive litigation at the risk of making themselves look like total asshats to their own fans because if they do not do so, they risk losing control of their trademark in the future.

Why is your assumption that Games Workshop is run by moustache-twirling cartoon villains instead of businessmen who just want to make money?

This isn't like a company trademarking the name "Coke" for a beverage.

This is like a company trademarking the name "coke" for the type of fuel known as coke. Now no one else can sell coke as "coke" , to spite the fact everyone has know this common fuel as coke and sold it as coke for years. That's blatantly abusing the legal system not to protect your own brand but simply to screw others over.

Their trademark is. not. valid.

You cannot do that because, as explained above, "coke" is a descriptive term in respect of fuel. You cannot trademark it. It simply does not distinguish your product at all.

You are essentially arguing that the term "Space Marine" is descriptive in the same sense as the word "coke." That's a genuine concern, but it's something a court needs to decide. The question would be if Space Marine is a descriptive term in respect of tabletop games/ebooks/video games, in the same way that coke is in respect of fuel. It really isn't exactly the same as the coke situation - a better example would be if Games Workshop sold miniature wargames under the trademark "Miniature Wargames." The term "Space Marines" is a little more distinctive than that.

Honestly, it could go either way. On the one hand, Space Marine is a very weakly distinctive term. Then again, so is Starship Troopers and Rogue Trader; they're both still valid trademarks. Furthermore, as a registered EU trademark, the term "Space Marine" is entitled to a presumption that it is distinctive until proven otherwise. And Games Workshop has sold video games and books under that mark.

More importantly, though, is that this is a matter typically decided by courts, not random persons on the internet with access to a caps-lock key.

Simply because they applied for it and got it rubber stamped doesn't throw all precedent out of the window.

I don't think you understand how a trademarks registry works. If it is registered, it is a trademark. That is how a trademarks registry works.

In this specific case, Games Workshop is alleging the existence of a common law trademark in the term "Space Marine" due to the fact that the offending ebook is outside the jurisdiction of its registered EU mark. However, there's a definite possibility that they have such a common law mark; it depends on their actual use of the term in the marketplace.

Stop and think what happens if GamesWorkshop does nothing... they will not be hurt at all.

People will be able to write books with "Space Marine" in the title and it won't affect their business in the damn slightest bit. Probably it will be improved by having people generally more interested in futuristic warfare.

Perhaps you have read nothing I have written. I am thinking that this is a possibility.

A crime writer don't need to own the trademark of the term "Private investigator" to write a story about a private investigator.

This is correct. If his book was called "The Private Investigator," however, or "Jack Jackson: Private Investigator," he would need to own a trademark to that effect.

It's interesting you brought up private investigators, because the largest comic book company in the world used to be called Detective Comics.

They still have the "WarHammer 40'000" trademark which is their actually IDENTIFIABLE trademark, and one that they have used extensively and consistently.

In law, as in everything else, you reach as far as you can grab, and you grab everything you can reach. Sure, they have a 40k trademark. That doesn't stop them from trying to get a Space Marine trademark. Ideally (for them) they would totally eliminate any chance of any competitor using any term related to their franchise in a commercial capacity.

I don't think that's the optimal state of existence for anyone, but that's how companies behave. I believe it has something to do with making money.

"our"? "Our artists"?

Up till now you've been referring to GamesWorkshop in the third person. As if you are a separate and independent observer.

I'm sorry if my shifting pronouns confuse you. In that sentence, I was narrating the thought process of whatever person originally chose all the names for all the things in Warhammer.

I did not personally name those things. I should not have to clarify this.

Did you declare in this forum that you are a mouthpiece for GameWorkshop?

No.

Don't play dumb, it was generic even when YOUR COMPANY made the claim.

Even if the term Space Marine was generic prior to the invention of the Internet - which, like I said, could go either way - it was registered successfully and has not been challenged. It is not generic until a court says so and strikes it from the registry.

Unnecessary disclaimer: I do not work for Games Workshop.

Of course they can, here, what you couldn't figure out in quarter of a damn century:
Imperial Space Marines

Just like how the American marines distinguish themselves from other marines by calling themselves US Marines, of the US Marine Corps. And the Space marines of Warhammer 40'000 are distinct from other space marines by how they are Imperial, of the Emperor's Empire.

There is no way your company couldn't have come up with this solution in 25 years unless GW didn't even want to even try.

The term "Imperial Space Marines" is not much more distinctive than the term Space Marines. It's still very descriptive. It just describes space marines that work for an empire. This is why I don't think you understand how trademarks work.

I'll explain. Setting aside the fact that you can't trademark government symbols, the term "United States Marines" would not be capable of being trademarked. Why? Because it just refers to marines from the United States. That's like a car dealership in Michigan trademarking the term "Michigan Cars." That doesn't distinguish his car dealership from any other car dealerships in Michigan. You have to be more specific.

Ideally, you choose as distinctive a name as possible. Like Adeptus Astartes. That's a nice, really distinctive name. It's lucky for GW that they've been using it in promotional materials, marketing and inside the products themselves for about two decades now. Why do you think they would do that? Maybe they anticipate losing control of their Space Marine trademark at some point in the future?

Anyway. That was long, and neither you nor anyone else is going to wade through all that if they're sane. But, you asked. I'm off to bed.

bastardofmelbourne:

1337mokro:
snippity!

copyright =/= trademark

Sorry if I come off as pedantic. It really is a very important distinction, and your post kind of conflates the two.

True I did use them quite sloppily and almost interchangeable but still neither of the two apply here. Both in Registered Trademarks and Copyright GW has no case here.

Unless the Space Marines perfectly resemble their trademark, they have no trademark claim. They do not own the copyright to the term Space Marine either.

This could be simply avoided by using Adeptus Astartes instead. I love 40k with a fervour that matches the followers of the Imperial Creed. GW are kinda dickheads. Relentlessly condescending to fans in the FAQs, prices, Matt Ward and such.

And they shall know no logic...

1337mokro:

Frostbite3789:

1337mokro:

Want to pull up the Tyranids next? Xenomorphs that absorb useful traits whilst being an engineered life form? Traveling the universe gathering biomass from the things they consume? Ring a bell?

OH YES FUCKING ALIENS! Except instead of chest bursting they just melt you down.

Except the Xenos from Aliens...don't do most of those things. They're never shown to have a space travelling hive mind, as they tend to get spread by other life forms (Humans and Predators). They don't absorb new creatures, they do however adopt the traits of a host creature. The Tyranids have no host creature. They just take over a race and adopt it into their hive.

Like the Zerg. Which were originally supposed to be the Tyranids.

I see where you're coming from as far as GW and originality, but as far as Xenos vs Tyranids, outside of basic visual design (verrrrry basic visual design) there aren't many similarities. I've never seen a Xeno use a weapon. I've never seen a Xeno do much other than hunt and kill.

They have a central hive mind in the Queen.

They can travel through space on board ships in egg form, so you could equate that to the Husks.

The Morphs were engineered, so were the Tyranids.

I could go on, however that is not my point.

My point was to illustrate how if we are going to use something like "Marine who is in space" as a copyright term then the Tyranids are in BIG trouble. They are technically Aliens that can change their physical appearance and do so by consuming other lifeforms.

That is a basic description of BOTH the Xenomorphs and the Tyranids. Fuck that we could take it a step further what if Cameron copyrighted the word Alien(s)? We might as well start pulling every goddamned sci-fi book ever written.

It wasn't to point out that there were similarities, it was to point out that if we take a generic term/description for something and copyright it allot of things are suddenly lost to the copyright fairy.

Unless the Space Marines in the book were exact copies of the Adaptes there should be no copyright issue. Just like their is no issue in using Aliens, Dwarfs, Elves, Orcs, Fairies, Dragons, Ghosts or any other word used to describe a common term for a creature or type of character.

Heck Space Marines isn't even accurate for the 40kers, they are Space Super Soldiers. Starship Troopers had Space Marines.

Nids where not engineered, the came from another galaxy where they evolved into natural selection gone crazy. They have been flying through space from galaxy to galaxy for millions of years possibly. The hive mind is not dependent on a Queen either, they are just synapse creatures that provide the link to the hive mind. The hive mind is also a massive entity that spreads across all Nids everywhere. The closest thing to Xenomorphs are the Genestealers, the hive mind sends them on infiltration missions ahead of the hive fleets which usually means old derelict ships. From there they hope to come into contact with sentient species so they can use them in a reproduction process, the spawn from this are half host and half Genestealer. Then they make trouble for any species they find and try to topple or disrupt authorities so when they call the hive mind they find it easier pickings. They act like Xenomorphs to and rely on fast sneak attacks or overwhelming shock assaults after sneaking in.

While I am a fan of GW and their Warhammer 40k series. I am not now nor have I ever been a huge fan of their notoriously litigueous nature. However I can respect their desire to protect their IP especially when it is based on some fairly widely used genre tropes.

With that in mind I'm going to play the devil's advocate here.

At what point does a fairly generic term become synonymous with the IP that's been using it?
The argument I keep hearing is that "Space Marine" is a generic term used well before WH40K and GW should have no claim to it as a copywrited term.

I propose a hypothetical then. Say that I write a story set in a far away galaxy wherein an evil empire has dominated several star systems with their army of cloned storm troopers. The heroes of this tale would be a loose alliance of rebels aimed at taking down the empire.

Let's take it a step further then. Say I write a superhero story about a man in a robotic suit, a Jeckyl and Hyde pastiche and the norse god Thor...on top of that I write in a story wherein they have to unite to avenge the wrongs that have been done by *insert villain.*

Finally let's say I make an animated comedy series focusing on silly slapsticky gags and musical numbers and decide that the most descriptive terms in which to refer to my silly little show is to call it "Loony Tunes."

By the "Space Marine is a generic term and GW has no claim to it" logic I've done nothing wrong here. I've created a series of original stories and settings using generic descriptive terms that nobody should have the right to claim is specific to protecting their IP.

But would you really be on my side if Disney or Warner Brothers came down on me like a bag of hammers?

Diddy_Mao:
But would you really be on my side if Disney or Warner Brothers came down on me like a bag of hammers?

If you were using any of the public domain material that Disney used as handholds to climb up to it's position of global media dominance, but then subsequently did everything in it's power to monopolise the usage of then I would be behind you one hundred percent. The Disney corporation's legal division would still strip the flesh from your bones, grind them into powder and snort it to get high. But rest assured that I would still think that they were wrong for having done so.

Diddy_Mao:
snip

Technically, what you are describing is copyright infringement.

Although, realistically, you would be totally fine unless you literally copied huge sections of the script. The only thing there that is actually trademark infringement is the Loony Tunes example, because Looney Tunes is a registered trademark.

J Tyran:

1337mokro:

Frostbite3789:

Except the Xenos from Aliens...don't do most of those things. They're never shown to have a space travelling hive mind, as they tend to get spread by other life forms (Humans and Predators). They don't absorb new creatures, they do however adopt the traits of a host creature. The Tyranids have no host creature. They just take over a race and adopt it into their hive.

Like the Zerg. Which were originally supposed to be the Tyranids.

I see where you're coming from as far as GW and originality, but as far as Xenos vs Tyranids, outside of basic visual design (verrrrry basic visual design) there aren't many similarities. I've never seen a Xeno use a weapon. I've never seen a Xeno do much other than hunt and kill.

They have a central hive mind in the Queen.

They can travel through space on board ships in egg form, so you could equate that to the Husks.

The Morphs were engineered, so were the Tyranids.

I could go on, however that is not my point.

My point was to illustrate how if we are going to use something like "Marine who is in space" as a copyright term then the Tyranids are in BIG trouble. They are technically Aliens that can change their physical appearance and do so by consuming other lifeforms.

That is a basic description of BOTH the Xenomorphs and the Tyranids. Fuck that we could take it a step further what if Cameron copyrighted the word Alien(s)? We might as well start pulling every goddamned sci-fi book ever written.

It wasn't to point out that there were similarities, it was to point out that if we take a generic term/description for something and copyright it allot of things are suddenly lost to the copyright fairy.

Unless the Space Marines in the book were exact copies of the Adaptes there should be no copyright issue. Just like their is no issue in using Aliens, Dwarfs, Elves, Orcs, Fairies, Dragons, Ghosts or any other word used to describe a common term for a creature or type of character.

Heck Space Marines isn't even accurate for the 40kers, they are Space Super Soldiers. Starship Troopers had Space Marines.

Nids where not engineered, the came from another galaxy where they evolved into natural selection gone crazy. They have been flying through space from galaxy to galaxy for millions of years possibly. The hive mind is not dependent on a Queen either, they are just synapse creatures that provide the link to the hive mind. The hive mind is also a massive entity that spreads across all Nids everywhere. The closest thing to Xenomorphs are the Genestealers, the hive mind sends them on infiltration missions ahead of the hive fleets which usually means old derelict ships. From there they hope to come into contact with sentient species so they can use them in a reproduction process, the spawn from this are half host and half Genestealer. Then they make trouble for any species they find and try to topple or disrupt authorities so when they call the hive mind they find it easier pickings. They act like Xenomorphs to and rely on fast sneak attacks or overwhelming shock assaults after sneaking in.

From the wiki I admit but.

"They are a nomadic alien race comprising many genetically engineered forms"

Sure the original Tyranids weren't engineered, but by this point they are basically Bioweapons on auto-consume.

Though I like how allot of people have gone through endless lengths to outline how Tyranids are "NOTHING" like aliens. If only people were that dedicated to pointing out GW doesn't own the word Space Marine.

For all the complaining about the ethical nature of trademarking a term used in science fiction since the first story about military types in space, I have to admit that, from a cold, critical, non-hippie standpoint it makes good business sense.

After all, Warhammer 40k is becoming more and more popular since the Dawn of War series rocketed into the limelight bringing with it all of its runty children including three expansion packs, an extremely dedicated mod community, a sequel which itself has two expansions, and an action title for everything with a screen and a video card. The idea that they want to further narrow the focus of the public when talking about Space Marines isn't crazy, I'd probably try to pull the same damn thing in their shoes.

But people hate that y'know? They hate it when someone is a jerk about something but are also right about that same thing. People aren't allowed to be right and be jerks at the same time because then you can't shout them down from their pedestal or take a swing at them without looking like a backwards luddite.

So I say, go for GW, you crazy, psychotic, capitalistic diamond.

I really don't think you should be able to trademark* words that are in the dictionary.

Combining two does not count.

Trademark Tyranids, Dakka, Bolter even. Space and Marine together? No.

1337mokro:
From the wiki I admit but.

"They are a nomadic alien race comprising many genetically engineered forms"

Sure the original Tyranids weren't engineered, but by this point they are basically Bioweapons on auto-consume.

The Tyranids aren't really "engineered." It's more like incredibly rapid evolution. But this is semantics. Obviously, the other poster assumed you were saying that the Tyranids were genetically engineered by an external party.

Though I like how allot of people have gone through endless lengths to outline how Tyranids are "NOTHING" like aliens. If only people were that dedicated to pointing out GW doesn't own the word Space Marine.

The Tyranids really have much more in common with the Zerg than the xenomorphs. The Zerg were very heavily "inspired" by the Tyranids. But if you're looking for an Alien shout-out, it's the Genestealers.

Easton Dark:
I really don't think you should be able to copyright words that are in the dictionary.

Combining two does not count.

Copyright Tyranids. Copyright Dakka. Copyright Bolter even. Space and Marine together? No.

I don't want to come off as a jerk because I'm guessing you haven't read the thread, but this is a trademark claim, not a copyright claim.

They really are two incredibly different things.

Games Workshop loves it money.
You ever want to buy a five man space marine combat squad? Prepare 15 pounds or 20 bucks.
10 Astartes? 30 dollars.
And considering how they are the staple to any army, plus with the wide array of accessories and modeling purposes you can use them for...
LOADS OF MONEY.

OT: I'd rather they let people use the term Space Marine. They have their Astartes and they can be cool with that.

Hey, since this will go over as well as that whole "Edge" thing (Read As: "Not at all"), I wouldn't worry about it.

bastardofmelbourne:

I don't want to come off as a jerk because I'm guessing you haven't read the thread, but this is a trademark claim, not a copyright claim.

They really are two incredibly different things.

Whoops, I get them mixed up. I read some of this thing.

CrossLOPER:
I want to know what is going on in the minds of the owners of Warhammer, a science fiction franchise that built its popularity on common scifi tropes, by now suing those who are utilizing scifi tropes.

Sounds like elimination of possible competition.

DoomedSheridan:

hudsonzero:
good, come up with your own term for space military men

First off, Games Workshop is hardly the first ones to use the term, second off, you realize that space marine is just a generic description, right? They're marines who happen to be in space. What would you rather they be called? Cosmic Warfighters?

Actually...

Quick... trademark that before Games Workshop gets it. Oh wait... they'll just claim it anyways and sue your pants off.

And frankly, the term space marine is idiotic. There is no sea/ocean in outer space.

Andy Chalk:

In December 2012, Games Workshop used a trademark infringement claim to force the removal of the ebook Spots the Space Marine from Amazon. The book, an homage to classic sci-fi author Robert Heinlein, is still available in physical format but the ebook edition is not, and according to the author, M.C.A. Hogarth, the real worry is that Games Workshop may be readying a similar move against all other uses of "space marine."

Amazon has put it back up since then due to other authors supporting the authors claim.

bastardofmelbourne:

1337mokro:
From the wiki I admit but.

"They are a nomadic alien race comprising many genetically engineered forms"

Sure the original Tyranids weren't engineered, but by this point they are basically Bioweapons on auto-consume.

The Tyranids aren't really "engineered." It's more like incredibly rapid evolution. But this is semantics. Obviously, the other poster assumed you were saying that the Tyranids were genetically engineered by an external party.

Though I like how allot of people have gone through endless lengths to outline how Tyranids are "NOTHING" like aliens. If only people were that dedicated to pointing out GW doesn't own the word Space Marine.

The Tyranids really have much more in common with the Zerg than the xenomorphs. The Zerg were very heavily "inspired" by the Tyranids. But if you're looking for an Alien shout-out, it's the Genestealers.

Easton Dark:
I really don't think you should be able to copyright words that are in the dictionary.

Combining two does not count.

Copyright Tyranids. Copyright Dakka. Copyright Bolter even. Space and Marine together? No.

I don't want to come off as a jerk because I'm guessing you haven't read the thread, but this is a trademark claim, not a copyright claim.

They really are two incredibly different things.

First of no. It is not evolution. The Tyranids do not evolve as a species, they simply engineer types of Tyranids for specific tasks. Not Evolution but BIO-ENGINEERING. There will always be a hive mind that does not change, unless it finds a useful genetic trait, but that is just a built in trait which is then again bio-engineering.

We don't Evolve crops to have more grain, we engineer crops to have more grain, just to give an example.

This just to clear up the mis-use of evolution, nothing to do with the actual post.

Now the actual response.

Yes, yes I know it is a Trademark claim but that is still part of IP law and the effects are still the same, I do use the terms trademark and copyright pretty sloppily I admit.

I am not looking for a similarity I am just saying that if we narrow a trademark/copyright down to a vague description "Aliens that look scaly and kill everything" similar to "Army personnel of the Marine branch in Space" we might as well start pulling back every possible thing in existence.

The guy that first thought up the Robot could now Trademark bomb any media with a robot as described by him (example: Autonomous metal construct).

On a side note, of course the Tyranids have things in common with the Zerg. StarCraft was basically a Warhammer 40k Alternate Universe with the amount of stuff they used from their Warcraft license.

wut...dude, "space marine" was a term used in the absolute most generic manner (esp by folk on this site thanks to Yahtzee lol) before their Space Marine game came out (which was pretty fun). this is pretty ridiculous of them lol...

Okay, this is just ludicrous. Okay, I understand if GW wants to protect their Space Marine brand of characters. But the problem with this whole ordeal, which many people besides me has pointed out, is that the term "space marine" really only refers to a marine... IN SPAAACE! And considering GW's eponymous space marines are closer to walking battletanks than anything else... yeah.

Look, GW. We know that you created those musclebound titanic monsters you call space marines, and that you took inspiration from various older sources. We are not about to argue that you do not have the rights to that particular brand of meatheads. However, trademarking the term "space marine", it being a description of a military marine that happens to work in space, is just dumb.

Let us hope the judges have the same amount of common sense as we do...

bastardofmelbourne:

Anyway. That was long, and neither you nor anyone else is going to wade through all that if they're sane.

As a total ignorant regarding laws, let alone trademark and copyright laws, i found your exchange interesting :(
Since most of us ain't law students, need someone in these threads to throw out some factoids otherwise we can only do knee jerk reactions (omg games workshop are total douschebags and bullies who are doing this for no reason other then to be evil suits!).

I am going to start by saying I am a 40k fanboy to some degree. That said I really hate GW. They do so much stupid shit. I don't think they should be allowed to trademark such a generic term, the in game universe offical name for the space marines (Adeptus Astrates) on the other hand, well that is theirs imo and I think they have it trademarked.

So in short this is yet another reason to think GW is just a bunch of money grubbing dick blisters.

duchaked:
wut...dude, "space marine" was a term used in the absolute most generic manner (esp by folk on this site thanks to Yahtzee lol) before their Space Marine game came out (which was pretty fun). this is pretty ridiculous of them lol...

Shit someone enjoyed that game? I thought it was the most boring peace of shit I have ever played. Seriously I can handle a bad game but that was just dull. It was just hallow, there was nothing to it.

Anyway, that seams silly to me, honestly when I think "Space Marine" I think Aliens or Starcraft. Although I don't know shit about Warhammer. (yeah I know Starcraft is pretty much Warhammer 40k)

duchaked:
wut...dude, "space marine" was a term used in the absolute most generic manner (esp by folk on this site thanks to Yahtzee lol) before their Space Marine game came out (which was pretty fun). this is pretty ridiculous of them lol...

It was more than just a game. It was a whole franchise spanning 30 years now. Its warhammer.

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