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The Perseverance of a Trademark Troll

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-produce-when-you-can-sue dept.

The Courts 63

Sockatume writes "Eurogamer has published an article on Tim Langdell's battle against the Edge iPhone game. Langdell, a British entrepreneur, founded Softek (later renamed The Edge, Edge Games and Edge Interactive Media Inc.) in the 1980s as a venture to fund game development, with profits to be split 50/50 with the developers. He moved to California in the 1990s in the wake of accusations of failing to pay his developers. Now a professor in games studies at National University, an IGDA board member, and a former member of BAFTA-LA's board, 'Dr.' Langdell spends his time accusing people of infringing his trademarks and offering to settle. After delivering a settle-or-die ultimatum to Edge publisher Mobigames (detailed in the article), he has convinced Apple to pull the game from the App Store. Mobigames is preparing to strike back: their lawyer believes that his trademarks are 'liable to be revoked.' Langdell has had a spate of bad press lately as other trademark disputes come to light, involving entities ranging from EA Games to Britain's venerable Edge Magazine (source of Edge Games' logo and now registering its own Edge trademark). He has never actually prevailed in a trademark hearing."

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Obscurity isn't a valid defense (3, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28994963)

If obscurity were the measure by which a trademark claim could be defended, there are many companies (many of them English!) that would be unable to protect their trademark.

Langdell's company makes games. A quick browsing of Wikipedia shows that "lol ura fagit" and that Edge Games is currently in development to bring their C64 games to the Wii.

So, being the trademark holder, Langdell actually needs to do what he can to protect it or risk losing it. This isn't being a troll, it's looking out for one's own best interest. His trademark is old, on the order of decades. Why would he relinquish it now to some upstart?

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28995031)

I'm not familiar with trademark law in England, but in the United States, trademark holders have to actually use their trademarks in order to keep them. According to the wikipedia article, "Edge Games" hasn't released a game since 1994. Five years of non-use gives rise to a presumption of abandonment. If Langdell tries to go to court, he will quickly find that he doesn't have a trademark.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995065)

I'm not sure you're familiar with trademark law in the United States either. Your definition of "use" is unclear and its applicability in this case is questionable.

Let's see what the experts say: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm [harvard.edu]

3. What prerequisites must a mark satisfy in order to serve as a trademark?
An arbitrary or fanciful mark is a mark that bears no logical relationship to the underlying product. For example, the words "Exxon," "Kodak," and "Apple" bear no inherent relationship to their underlying products (respectively, gasoline, cameras, or computers). Similarly, the Nike "swoosh" bears no inherent relationship to athletic shoes. Arbitrary or fanciful marks are inherently distinctive -- i.e. capable of identifying an underlying product -- and are given a high degree of protection.

So the trademark "Edge" in reference to games is, given the history of the company, inherently distinctive and thus fulfills the requirements for being a trademark.

4. How do you acquire rights in a trademark?
Assuming that a trademark qualifies for protection, rights to a trademark can be acquired in one of two ways: (1) by being the first to use the mark in commerce...

Again, Langdell seems to have this base covered so far as anyone can prove.

Here we get to the crux of your post.

6. Can trademark rights be lost?
A trademark is abandoned when its use is discontinued with an intent not to resume its use. Such intent can be inferred from the circumstances. Moreover, non-use for three consecutive years is prima facie evidence of abandonment. The basic idea is that trademark law only protects marks that are being used, and parties are not entitled to warehouse potentially useful marks.

But if you take a look, Edge Games has a website, claims to be developing games, and is in no way abandoning its trademark to genericity. So while your claim that Edge Games hasn't released something for years may be true, it may not be relevant.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (2, Insightful)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995085)

I don't think anybody is going to confuse a game called Edge with a company called Edge Games.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (4, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995121)

Let's see what the experts say: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm [harvard.edu]

8. What constitutes trademark dilution?
In addition to bringing an action for infringement, owners of trademarks can also bring an action for trademark dilution under either federal or state law. Under federal law, a dilution claim can be brought only if the mark is "famous." In deciding whether a mark is famous, the courts will look to the following factors: (1) the degree of inherent or acquired distinctiveness; (2) the duration and extent of use; (3) the amount of advertising and publicity; (4) the geographic extent of the market; (5) the channels of trade; (6) the degree of recognition in trading areas; (7) any use of similar marks by third parties; (8) whether the mark is registered. 15 U.S.C. 1125(c). Kodak, Exxon, and Xerox are all examples of famous marks. Under state law, a mark need not be famous in order to give rise to a dilution claim. Instead, dilution is available if: (1) the mark has "selling power" or, in other words, a distinctive quality; and (2) the two marks are substantially similar. Mead Data Central, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 875 F.2d 1026 (2d Cir. 1989).

Once the prerequisites for a dilution claim are satisfied, the owner of a mark can bring an action against any use of that mark that dilutes the distinctive quality of that mark, either through "blurring" or "tarnishment" of that mark; unlike an infringement claim, likelihood of confusion is not necessary. Blurring occurs when the power of the mark is weakened through its identification with dissimilar goods. For example, Kodak brand bicycles or Xerox brand cigarettes. Although neither example is likely to cause confusion among consumers, each dilutes the distinctive quality of the mark. Tarnishment occurs when the mark is cast in an unflattering light, typically through its association with inferior or unseemly products or services. So, for example, in a recent case, ToysRUs successfully brought a tarnishment claim against adultsrus.com, a pornographic web-site. Toys "R" Us v. Akkaoui, 40 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1836 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 1996).

(1) the degree of inherent or acquired distinctiveness
The distinctiveness is there, as explained in my original reply

(2) the duration and extent of use
Duration is there, and the intent to use has not been abandoned, as explained in my original reply

(3) the amount of advertising and publicity
Definitely arguable. They have a website and are the first hit on Google for "edge game" and "edge games".

(4) the geographic extent of the market
US and UK, according the the Edge Games website.

(5) the channels of trade
They are a game company and seem intent on releasing their existing portfolio to the Wii.

(6) the degree of recognition in trading areas
Edge Games was a decently sized name back in the C64 days. Nowadays they are a bit infamous for stiffing their developers, but is infamy different from fame?

(7) any use of similar marks by third parties
I suppose Gillette probably has a trademark on Edge for their shaving gel.

(8) whether the mark is registered
Seems like it.

Langdell's Edge trademark seems to fit the requirements of fame.

The naming of the game certainly seems to dilute the trademark. Can the publishers of Edge (the game) claim that the name is sufficiently generic enough?

At the most, though, Langdell would only be able to get injunctive relief as it is unlikely that the infringers willfully traded on the plaintiff's goodwill in using the mark.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28995167)

Being technically right is not a valid defense from being actually a jerk.

Fancy lawyer tactics do not a gentleman make.

That is all.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (2, Interesting)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995197)

I thought Langdell was cool with trademark dilution [flickr.com] .

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (2, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995831)

What?

I don't think anyone could've claimed so much as niche fame for this mark with a straight face. But with the current requirement in the law for national fame as a prerequisite for dilution -- "a mark is famous if it is widely recognized by the general consuming public of the United States as a designation of source of the goods or services of the mark's owner" -- there's absolutely no chance, IMO.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28996257)

Hi Tim. Nice to meet you. I'm 30. I started gaming on my vic-20 when I was 7 years old, and I started following the industry closely in the early 90's. I've never heard of you or your company. I don't think your trademark could possibly be diluted any more than it has been by your old age. Time to move on, buddy.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (3, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995611)

Edge Games has been claiming to develop games for a long time, though, without producing anything. In fact almost all of Langdell's trademark registrations are officially dead, and indeed he only renewed his current UK trademarks when a database purge removed the already-dead marks from their website. And Edge has never sold products in many of the fields it has a trademark registration - they've never published a comic book or a magazine, for example.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996183)

"Words that are common or ordinary receive less protection unless they have developed public recognition due to their long use in the market place. These type of marks are said to have acquired a secondary meaning."

That's from a Iowa State primer on trademark law, but articulates the concept well: you pick a common word, you'd better have serious mind-share. "Edge?" Nobody is going to think there is any "secondary meaning" here.

You can try to trademark "Earth," "Wisdom," or whatever, but it's a hell of a high bar to clear.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28999881)

So then... What constitutes use of a trademark for purposes of abandonment?

Can I publish a website that says i'm developing a game, and if I registered the mark, it's perpetually protected as long as I keep my website up?

(Even if I don't actually develop or release any products using the mark)

Or is the standard higher?

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000109)

I don't know. But if someone is just going to claim that the trademark is up for grabs because it hasn't been "used" for a long time, it is really up to them to define what they expect the requirement for "use" are.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000257)

Trade marks are for protecting trade names. To use the mark, that means you have sold or provided some product under that trade name in the field of business that your trademark pertains to.

If you haven't, then you didn't use the mark.

Intent to use is not the same as using.

So I would think just making a website and discussing a game you are planning to develop doesn't count as using the mark, it counts as reporting that you plan to use the mark in the future. At least as the field of video games is concerned.

Now, if your product was a website, for example Slashdot, then your website itself is a product, and Slashdot continues to demonstrate having used and have exclusive use of the name in trade in the field of News media, by continuing to publish the website on the internet.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000353)

Again we come to the definition of "use" as the critical point.

A trademark is abandoned when its use is discontinued with an intent not to resume its use. Such intent can be inferred from the circumstances. Moreover, non-use for three consecutive years is prima facie evidence of abandonment.

1. It's use is discontinued with an intent not to resume its use
1a. Intent is inferred from circumstances

2. 3 consecutive years of non-use is evidence of abandonment

Edge Games clearly has point 1 covered. They at least give the impression of intending to continue using the trademark.

Point 2 is much murkier, as you suggest. Is the intent to resume using the trademark with all the clear advertisement (websites) and infringement protection actions that Langdell has undertaken sufficient to claim "use"? Also, the mark is the name of the company, and isn't the existence of the company prima facie evidence that the mark is in continual use?

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000419)

isn't the existence of the company prima facie evidence that the mark is in continual use?

Evidence of its continual use, but not evidence of its continual use in the field of use of electronic game products.

I see on their website, they have a cafepress store selling T-Shirts, mugs, and stickers with the Edge mark. So I suppose they may have the "clothing/apparel, mugs, and stickers" categories covered.

But have they actually produced or marketed or sold any games under the mark in the past 10 years?

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000489)

Their channel of trade is clearly the game industry, as that is what Edge Games ostensibly is targeting with its past and current game development. Whether they have actually released a game in the past 3 years (what seems to be the legally defined period) doesn't seem to be relevant because 1) they have continuously existed with the mark in the channel of trade they exist within, 2) they have vigorously defended against mark violators within that channel of trade, and 3) they do seem to have the intention of releasing products within that channel of trade. Their use of the trademark is continuous, and their trademark is used as the company name and is attached to future projects.

Anyone claiming that Edge Games has abandoned the mark would have to show abandonment. I think (IANAL, clearly) that the above arguments would need to be overcome to show such. However, I also think that there is a strong argument in Edge Games' favor that many here at Slashdot are unwilling to consider because of the natural bias against IP bullies.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (4, Informative)

skrolle2 (844387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995437)

He's a troll, because he's obviously exploiting it and only going after successful games that might infringe, and he always threatens to drag it to court unless he gets a big bag of money. In the case of the iPhone game he wanted them to change the name, AND half of the revenues accumulated up until the name change. Mobigames offered to change the name of their game to Edgy, whereupon Langdell as quickly as possible trademarked that name as well, and said that that name change also wasnt' acceptable.

Oh, and they're apparently developing a game called "Mirrors, a game by Edge".

It's those little details that make him a huge trademark troll.

Re:Obscurity isn't a valid defense (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000783)

Um... There is nothing quick about filing for and acquiring a new trademark for a new trade name, and there's a review process involved, during which time, Mobigames could file dispute of the trademark registration, showing the registrant didn't have exclusive use.

I would expect Mobigames could rename their app much more quickly than he could file for and get another trademark.

Who'll be the first... (2, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28994977)

To have an Edge Monster [tabberone.com] ?

Tim Langdell? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28995439)

Tim Langdell escaped from his fathers basement. Two years from now Tim Langdell will travel forty years into the past and kill the then "Josef Fritzl" and have his children. From there on Tim Langdell will construct his basement which he will use his own daughter and mother as a sex slave to give birth to another Tim Langdell and dozens of other retarded kids.

Title (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995565)

I should point out that my original title for this article did not refer to him as a trademark troll. I think the term is overused and honestly should only apply to people like Leo Stoller who have no business registering a trademark in the first place, not folk like Langdell who (IMO) take a perfectly valid trademark registration and behave like total assholes in their exploitation of it.

Re:Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28995645)

What was your original phrasing?

Re:Title (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995795)

See the "related stories" Firehose link. The original, unedited slashdot submissions get posted there.

I don't get it. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995575)

Why is Dr. in quotes? Is his doctorate a fake?

Re:I don't get it. (3, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995637)

He's got a doctorate in experimental child psychology - his thesis was on autism. It's just that he refers to himself as Dr. Langdell all the time.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995669)

So? That's what you do when you have a doctorate. That's what doctorate means. It means you're a doctor. You don't have to be an MD to be called 'doctor. Maybe it's changed in the 10 years since I've been to college, but when I went, you called your professors 'doctor' when addressing them.

Re:I don't get it. (3, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995743)

I thought the common use was to use the "Dr." prefix when used in an applicable context. Referring to yourself as "Dr." in the context of computer games when your doctorate is in experimental child psychology would imply authority where there is none.
No law or rule, just common use.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28995807)

No, that isn't common at all. The common use is to use "Dr." whenever you feel like it. It is perfectly acceptable and not misleading at all.

Anyone who assumes that someone has expert knowledge in any field whatsoever, just because they stick some letters in front of or after their name, is being stupid. There is no reason for people who have earned a doctorate to hide that fact just because there are idiots around.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996611)

I was going to mod this up, but an example is more useful. Bill S. Preston, Esq. [imdb.com]

Well, you would be wrong. (2, Informative)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995913)

Someone with a PhD is perfectly entitled to call themselves Dr. at all times, regardless of circumstances, and common sense doesn't enter into it. My father has one. He calls himself Dr. when buying plane tickets, filling out medical forms, introducing himself to others, and at any other time when someone asks him for his honorific.

Re:Well, you would be wrong. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995999)

He is perfectly entitled to call himself "doctor", but honestly it just reeks of puffing oneself up when it's used to sign off on his legal and business documents and omitted elsewhere. In retrospect ["Dr. Langdell"] would've been better than ["Dr." Langdell].

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996205)

Those of us who are not pretentious twats find that behavior to be annoying. Hence, the twat quotes around 'Dr.'

LK

Re:I don't get it. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996387)

I'm sorry that you find courtesy annoying. Most of us find the lack of it to be the annoying thing.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996407)

Introducing yourself by title isn't courtesy. Throwing a temper tantrum when someone calls you Mr. instead of Dr. isn't courtesy. Dr. is an academic title, it's a professional title; outside of school or your place of employment you have no right to expect to be called Dr. Anyone who does, is a twat.

LK

Re:I don't get it. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996447)

He didn't introduce himself or throw a temper tantrum, so your point is moot.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996489)

I guess you haven't read enough of the comments on this one. He's a twat.

LK

I want to make sure I get this right (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996863)

So instead of "Dr. Langdell" he should be called "Twat Langdell"? Or are you saying he should be called "Dr. Twat"?

Re:I want to make sure I get this right (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000213)

I'm thinking Dr. Twat Langdell.

LK

Re:I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29009081)

Clearly you are a cretin. It is perfectly acceptable to use the title 'Dr' if you have been awarded a doctorate. Indeed, in the UK you change your identity papers, passport etc to reflect the change in title. In Germany you are required to change your name officially, and if you have your habilitation then you also add 'professor' to your name. Some people choose not to, but I believe if you have earned the right to call yourself Dr, then it is fine to do so. We should celebrate achievement by hard working people in academia and other fields and not be scared by idiots like yourself that use 'pretentious' to attack them.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29027395)

It is perfectly acceptable to use the title 'Dr' if you have been awarded a doctorate.

It's perfectly acceptable to do so in a professional or academic setting.

Indeed, in the UK you change your identity papers, passport etc to reflect the change in title.

I don't live in the UK. I am not bound by the standards of behavior there.

We should celebrate achievement by hard working people in academia and other fields and not be scared by idiots like yourself that use 'pretentious' to attack them.

I currently have three degrees you cock-smoking Europhile. I'm on track to have my Doctorate before I turn 40. How about you?

And who, other than a pretentious twat introduces him/herself by title?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29084321)

Also, when I do get my Doctorate, outside of the professional and academic settings I'm not going to throw my Dr. title around like this twat.

I'll be perfectly happy with Lord.

LK

Another Asshole with a Lawyer (1)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28995775)

Next.

Re:Another Asshole with a Lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001317)

Except he doesn't use a lawyer, he does everything BY HIMSELF.

It's just his victims shit their pants and give in because it's cheaper to comply with his demands than to pay lawyer's fees.

The guy is a genius, that's why he's got away with this for so long. An evil, asshole genius, but a genius nonetheless.

The Mirrors from Edge is his idea of a joke, designed to demonstrate what it feels like when your trademark is infringed. Langdell is quite a playful, mischievous guy. It's a dick move, but it's a dick move to prove a point.

Oh, and his wife's American, that's why he moved to the States, not because he was being chased for money (you think that hadn't been happening for YEARS before that?).

BTW, yes, I DO know him. Only 80% of the bad shit you read about him is true.

Apple didn't pull it (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996005)

According to TFA, the publisher pulled it after being threatened. Dumb move, IMO; if it comes to court, Langdell will claim that as an admission of liability.

As far as I can tell, Langdell's company never released a game identified as "Edge" or anything similar.

Re:Apple didn't pull it (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996455)

You're right, I misunderstood this paragraph:

But not everyone shared in the celebration. On 7th April, 2009, five months after its release, Papazian received an email from Apple. It stated: "We have received notice from Edge Games, Inc. ('Edge') that Edge believes your application named Edge infringes Edge's rights. Accordingly, please take steps to review your application to ensure that it does not violate the rights of another party."

Re:Apple didn't pull it (2, Informative)

Paul Sinnett (625955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28999027)

Actually, it was pulled twice. The first time it was withdrawn by Papazian while he attempted to negotiate a settlement with Langdell. The second time it was removed by Apple: http://fingergaming.com/2009/07/16/edge-removed-from-app-store-again-lite-version-released/ [fingergaming.com]

Re:Apple didn't pull it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28999067)

Mobigame's game has actually been pulled from the Apple store twice. Once was due to Mobigame getting continual threats of legal action from Langdell. They hoped that pulling it would give them some time to seek legal advice. When Mobigame pulled the game, I believe it was pulled from all territorities.

A few weeks after the game was back on the Apple store. Apparently Mobigame researched and figured they would be able to avoid any unsavory legal retaliation. However, this time Langdell contacted Apple about the situation and Apple pulled the game from three regions. (U.S., U.K., and Germany I think?)

This is all documented, but I'm too lazy to find the relevant links. I think they can be found in one of the 5 or 6 articles about the dispute linked from http://www.tigsource.com/pages/edge-games

Edge Tycoon, Play as Tim Langdell the patent troll (4, Funny)

Shar-Kali-Sharri (890290) | more than 5 years ago | (#28996771)

Someone went and made a game out of this man's career, Edge Tycoon: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=6619.msg211236#msg211236 [tigsource.com] You play Tim Langdell trying to patent game names before the games are made, and then sue the developers. I found it rather funny.

EdgeGamers.org (1)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 5 years ago | (#28997133)

I'm pretty sure edgegamers.org, a very large gaming clan, had to pay him a fee to keep using the name.

From his website:

The movie "The Edge" staring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, was released by 20th Century Fox under license from EDGE

Yeah, what a troll.

1. Trademark common english dictionary word
2. Sue anyone having anything to do with word
3. Profit

Re:EdgeGamers.org (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 5 years ago | (#28998431)

Let's start referring to games as Edges. Pass the edge please (along with Kleenex, Frisbee, and legos). Use it generically and it is gone.

Re:EdgeGamers.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28998581)

edge: noun, vulgar slang; an obnoxious or stupid person; "That CEO is a fucking edge"

Re:EdgeGamers.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001115)

I can tell you that the scum sucker mentioned in the article waited for EdgeGamers to become big, then hit em with a Trademark threat.

Don't ask why I know, and we won't tell :)

There's currently a push to get him out of IGDA (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29000583)

I'm a member in good standing in IGDA.

Recently (in the last month or so?), the following email went out to all registered IGDA members asking to sign a petition to have Tim Langdell removed from the IGDA's board:

The actions of IGDA board member Tim Langdell since his election in March 2009 have raised questions regarding his suitability as our elected representative. As you no doubt know, the IGDA's mission is: To advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community.

Tim Langdell's company, Edge Games, has trademarked the word "edge" and they leverage this trademark against any media that contains this word--threatening legal action should their target not enter into a licensing arrangement with the studio. Such targets have included David Mamet's film The Edge, Marvel's comic book Edge, EA's Mirror's Edge, and Namco's Soul Edge, which was released as Soul Blade and later, Soulcalibur in the west as a direct result of Edge Games' actions. Most recently their actions have resulted in the removal of the indie game hit, Edge, from the iPhone app store.

Meanwhile, Edge Games has not been associated with the direct production of an original video game in the last fifteen years.

After his election to the IGDA board, in a lawsuit against Cybernet regarding Edge of Extinction, Tim Langdell presented himself to the court like this: "Dr. Tim Langdell is considered to be a pioneer in the field of computer gaming and is widely publicized on the Internet and has been engaged as a legal expert in the field of computer gamin." He adds "He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Game Developers Association, which is the largest game association worldwide".
Many of us believe that this is a gross misrepresentation and feel that Tim Langdell is able to use his position on the board of the IGDA to work directly against the mission of the organization. As IGDA members with voting rights, it is our responsibility to elect a board that we can trust to represent us. But no election system is perfect and sometimes corrections need to be made.

We are asking that you take some time to consider this issue, do a little research online, make up your mind how you feel about it, and take action.

Under the IGDA bylaws, we are able to call for a special meeting of the membership to vote on the removal of Tim Langdell from the board of directors. In order to do this, we need 10% of the membership to request the board call the special meeting. We are hosting a petition to this effect here: (removed link, as the special meeting is going forward)

Thank you for your consideration,
Concerned Members of the IGDA

Re:There's currently a push to get him out of IGDA (1)

KPexEA (1030982) | more than 5 years ago | (#29000915)

I posted about this last week but it never made it to the front page.

Tim Langdell & the IGDA on Wednesday August 05, @03:31PM KPexEA
Submitted by KPexEA on Wednesday August 05, @03:31PM

an amazing guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29001045)

reading his now deleted wiki page tells me this guy is responsible for contributing so much to the world.

what a brilliant man! how dare it be suggested otherwise!

What next? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#29003157)

Is he also suing U2's guitar player [wikipedia.org] ?

trademark analog of copy-left? (1)

doom (14564) | more than 5 years ago | (#29004533)

Speaking of trademarks... does anyone know of a trademark analog of "copyleft"? What if you want to release a mark for free use, but want to avoid someone else claiming it as a trademark later?

Re:trademark analog of copy-left? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29015069)

I doubt there could be such a thing since the point of a trademark is significantly different from that of copyright.

Trademarks are meant (not that they always are) to simply be an 'identity'. In other words, you trademark something in order to prevent others from appearing to be you by using that mark.

You trademark the word "Edge" because you presumably do business in some form or another as "Edge". Either you sell "Edge" or you are "Edge" and are selling something, or you have a character "Edge" as an advertisement, and etc.

Thus, there is no real "release to the public" analog, other than simply abandoning your trademark by no longer using it. And that doesn't really 'trademark left' it, it just means it's no longer currently considered a trademark. If someone else came along after you abandoned the trademark, they could just as easily start their own "Edge" trademark.

Re:trademark analog of copy-left? (1)

doom (14564) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016133)

Thus, there is no real "release to the public" analog, other than simply abandoning your trademark by no longer using it. And that doesn't really 'trademark left' it, it just means it's no longer currently considered a trademark. If someone else came along after you abandoned the trademark, they could just as easily start their own "Edge" trademark.

You have a point, and yet, there are things that can't be trademarked, e.g. things that are "generic". So a real anti-trademark might be a way of saying "I want this to be a generic symbol".

I have no idea if there's a way to actually do that which would stand up... it does seem like a glaring omission in all the various discussion of "free culture" issues, though.

Re:trademark analog of copy-left? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016413)

The way you make something generic is by convincing everyone to use it in a generic sense. Even then though, Apple is a trademark yet an apple is about as generic as you can get.

Re:trademark analog of copy-left? (1)

doom (14564) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016583)

The way you make something generic is by convincing everyone to use it in a generic sense.

And what kind of evidence would it take to convince a judge that this has happened?

Even then though, Apple is a trademark yet an apple is about as generic as you can get.

I think that's "arbitrary/fanciful", not generic... and I think you'll find that Apple computer didn't make it impossible for you to sell apples, what they did is get a lock on the association between apples and computers. They could not, for example, sell products associated with music without paying off the old Apple records (the label/recording studio started by the Beatles).

Re:trademark analog of copy-left? (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29016981)

And what kind of evidence would it take to convince a judge that this has happened?

About the same amount that it would take to convince someone that your copyright infringement was protected as fair use, an arbritrary and undetermined amount that would only be defined at the moment the case was being decided.

I think that's "arbitrary/fanciful", not generic... and I think you'll find that Apple computer didn't make it impossible for you to sell apples, what they did is get a lock on the association between apples and computers.They could not, for example, sell products associated with music without paying off the old Apple records (the label/recording studio started by the Beatles).

Because the Beatles themselves trademarked Apple prior to "Apple" doing so. Thus proving the issue with 'generic'. You can trademark anything, generic or no, as long as no one else has and as long as your use of it can be defined in a way that you aren't attempting to trademark the 'genericness' of the term. Remember, a trademark in essense, your calling card. It has to have a distictive character that allows the consumer to identify you by it.

You can't trademark Apple as a grocers distributor, because that would be too close to what an apple is. You can't trademark Apple as a computer maker, because that 'identity' is already in use. You can't trademark Apple as a music company, because that 'identity' is also already in use.

But you probably could call your new rocketship company "Apple" (assuming there isn't one already). And you could do so even though Apple Inc. is still selling computers and even though Apple Records is still selling music.

And thus, there isn't really a way to 'generize' something in a way that would inoculate it from being trademarked later.

Trademarks that are lost to generic use [wikipedia.org] are lost because they lose their identity as individual products, we call any paper tissue product klennix, these days so the company that trademarked it lost their trademark. But even now, if I opened Klennix Logging or Klennix Autos, I'd still be able to trademark it.

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