“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.” – Emerson, Lake & Palmer
By this point, the ongoing dispute between Edge Games and Mobigame regarding the “Edge” trademark requires little introduction. As has been extensively reported, French indie developer Mobigame developed a game they called Edge and released that game as an iPhone app in the iTunes store. Edge Games, owners of the “Edge” trademark, objected to Mobigame’s use of said trademark and took several actions, up to and including petitioning Apple to remove the game from the iTunes store and engaging in a lengthy discussion with Mobigame over the possibility of resolving the trademark conflict. Apple, for their part, pulled the app from the iTunes store. Mobigame, however, refused to accept Edge’s trademark claim which touched off a debate that has raged ever since.
Two weeks ago The Escapist printed a story regarding this debate. Three The Escapist editors spent a week poring over documents provided by both parties in the dispute and consulting with copyright attorneys to determine who, if anyone, was in the right regarding this case. The documents supporting Mobigame’s position, some of which had to be translated from French into English at our expense, were sent to us directly by Mr. David Papazian, CEO of Mobigame. The documents provided by Edge Games, however, were taken from the Edge Games website, although The Escapist did receive numerous answers to email questions from a person who, after much prodding, finally revealed themselves to be Dr. Tim Langdell, CEO of Edge.
The initial conclusion we reached from our research and reporting was that, although both parties in the dispute may have acted in incomprehensible and unjustifiable ways, Edge Games’ legal claim to the “Edge” trademark seemed sound. A copyright attorney we reached for comment who saw these initial materials stated that, were he advising Mobigame in the matter, he would have recommended they settle. As such, our article called Mobigame’s behavior in so aggressively disputing the trademark, rather than settling the matter, “puzzling.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Papazian has remained firm in his conviction that Edge Games’ trademark is unsound, and has pledged to continue to fight. Mr. Papazian and others have repeatedly contacted The Escapist asking that we reverse our position, but in the absence of any further evidence contradicting our initial conclusions, we were content to let our analysis of the matter stand and remain firm in our previous reporting. That is, until recently.
Soon after we published “Edge or Edgy,” we were provided with some additional sources of information from Mobigame which related to key areas of disagreement in the accounts provided by the two parties. While not directly relevant to the underlying trademark, the material discussed below casts significant doubt on key details in Edge Games’ account. Unfortunately, unlike the information we presented in our original story, all of these facts have not been independently verified and are, in effect, in dispute. Edge Games and Dr. Langdell, despite repeated urging, have so far declined to grant The Escapist direct access to documents which might refute Mr. Papazian’s new claims. Nevertheless, we feel this new information adds some color to the ongoing dispute and goes a long way toward explaining and justifying Mobigame’s initially puzzling position.
First, Edge Games’ behavior after Mobigame removed its game from the US and UK iTunes stores has been a point of contention between the two companies, with Mobigame claiming that even when it did what Edge Games asked, they continued to be threatened with lawsuits. Mobigame provided us a copy of an email, dated May 1, 2009, from Edge Games to David Papazian, in which Edge Games indicates that removing the UK and US application and changing the name of the game wouldn’t stop Mobigame from being sued unless Mobigames also agreed to a monetary settlement. This aggressively-worded email is not reflected in the Edge Games Public Statement, nor was it mentioned in our extensive email conversations with Dr. Langdell. Instead, Edge Games ends Section 2 of its Public Statement with the April 28th removal of the game from the US and UK iTunes stores, and then resumes the chronology in Section 3 with a discussion of the name Edgy dating to May 14th, giving the impression that US/UK iTunes removal and a name change is all Edge Games asked for. Edge has refused to comment on the record regarding this email.
Second, Edge Games’ claim that David Papazian phoned back and convinced Edge Games to register the name EDGY has been a major point of dispute between the parties, with Mobigame going so far as to deny that this phone call took place. As circumstantial evidence supporting its denial, Mobigame provided The Escapist with copies of its France Telecom records, along with a written statement detailing who each call was to, and what about. According to these records, David Papazian did not telephone Edge Games on May 14th between 3:14PM and 4:28PM, as Edge has alleged. The Edge Games Public Statement is thus in contradiction to Mobigame’s France Telecom records, and again, Edge has declined to comment on the matter.
Third and finally, Edge Games’ statement that David Papazian agreed that Edge Games would register “Edgy” in the US has been denied by Mobigame. We received a copy of the original email from David Papazian to Edge Games in which Papazian proposed Mobigame change the name of their game to “Edgy.” In that email, after proposing “Edgy” as a title, Papazian wrote: “Of course do not try to register the trademark “Edgy” before us, especially now that you know we will do it. I know you will not but it is better if it is written.” This email is not included in the Edge Games Public Statement. It certainly implies that Mobigame never intended for Edge Games to register “Edgy.”
As compelling as this new information may be, we’re fairly confident it won’t resolve the matter. Edge’s refusal to provide even enough information to discredit Mobigame’s recent claims will attest to that. But this new information does at least answer the last remaining question in our minds following our extensive research: Why is Mobigame bothering to fight? Our own instincts, the feedback from legal experts and the words of Dr. Langdell himself have answered the question of why Edge Games is fighting, and that answer is, in short, because they have a case. But if that’s so, then why is Mobigame fighting? The answer to that is that they believe they’ve been treated unfairly. Whether or not that’s a sufficient legal basis for their arguments, it’s at least understandable.
(With additional reporting by Alexander Macris)