2009 isn't getting any sunnier for Tim Langdell: In the latest blow to the Edge Games honcho, Electronic Arts has filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel numerous trademarks currently registered to his company.
Langdell has earned a reputation in the game industry for his zealous protection of the Edge trademark; his Edge Games website claims affiliation with everything from gaming magazines to PC manufacturers and even movie studios. But trouble started brewing earlier this year when he picked a fight with French developer Mobigame over its release of a popular iPhone game called Edge. Perhaps unexpectedly, Mobigame fought back tenaciously, drawing a lot of attention and shining an unwanted light on some of Edge Games' less-than-savory tactics over the years.
Now, like the Italian army charging into France, EA has leaped into the fray, asking the PTO to cancel several trademarks currently registered to Edge Games: "Edge," "The Edge," "Gamer's Edge" and "Cutting Edge." The matter was brought to a head by Edge's reaction to Mirror's Edge, the primary-colored parkour game that came out in late 2008. Edge Games has "continuously threatened" to sue EA since its release, the company said, and now it's decided to push back.
"While this seems like a small issue for EA, we think that filing the complaint is the right thing to do for the developer community," the publisher said in a statement. "A lot of small developers who are faced with this situation settle claims because they don't know how, or can't afford to fight for their rights. We hope that as a result of this action, other developers will be less intimidated by unwarranted legal threats."
Obviously EA's motives aren't entirely altruistic but if other developers benefit as a result, I don't think anyone is going to complain too loudly. Except perhaps Dr. Langdell himself; in a statement to Gamasutra, an Edge Games representative said, "This petition by EA is clearly a desperate attempt by EA to see if they can win the right to use Mirror's Edge by forcibly removing Edge's legitimate rights to [the trademark] Edge. None of EA/Dice's claims in its petition have any basis in fact and their petition is thus certain to fail."