Thursday, 7 February 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #987: Games Workshop Hates Writers & Customers

Copyright and trademark law has become extremely complicated in this age of online file sharing, and outright piracy. Companies need to make sure people pay for their intellectual property in order to stay in business, so you can understand why they can be a bit militant when it comes to protecting their property.

However, what you can't understand is when they use the protection of intellectual property as an excuse to act like complete and total idiot douchebags who do more damage to their "brand" and their business than the alleged "theft" they claim to be combatting.

The latest purveyor of this new style self-fulfilling idiocy is Games Workshop, the people behind the Warhammer games franchise. They claim that they own the "common law trademark" to the term "Space Marines" and are threatening to legally harass an author into the bottomless pit of penury for sinning against them by using the term in the title of a story.

Now their claim is inherently nonsensical since the term "Space Marine" goes all the way back to the pulp magazines of the 1930s, and the first recorded use was by a writer named Bob Olsen. Since then the term has been used in hundreds of science fiction stories, novels, games of all kinds, movies, and television shows all over the world.

But that's not going to stop Games Workshop. I'm assuming their plan is to target some authors who don't have the resources to fight a long legal and pin a few of their scalps on the wall to create the "chilling effect" they need to get a monopoly going on the use of Space Marines.

These shenanigans proves that Games Workshop has some rather big gaps in their knowledge:

1. They don't know that people who buy their products tend to be science fiction fans.

2. They don't know that science fiction fans tend to have internet connections.

3. They don't know that those internet connections are used to access online social networks.

4. They don't know that those very same social networks are now telling the world what a pack of greedy, evil, predatory douchebags Games Workshop really are.

This fits my definition of what I call a self-fulfilling idiocy.

Someone at Games Workshop imagined a problem that really didn't exist (not owning the words "Space Marines") and thought up what they thought was a solution (bullying an author) that serves only to create a bigger problem (Games Workshop now looks evil & everyone thinks they're assholes).

I've never owned a Games Workshop product, and now I never will because the last thing I want is to give a penny of my hard earned grift to people that greedy, nasty, and above all stupid.


BTW- I know the United State Marines Corps has plans for outer space, and I'm sure they'd like to use the term "space marine" when those plans come to fruition, what do they think about this?


  1. Two things, GW, knows that they have by far the best universe for Sci-fi games by a good margin and they employ most of the best model makers, so their overall quality is head and shoulders above pretty much every competitor, thus their lack of concern about risking their market. They've been terrible to resellers for the better part of two decades now, but without any real competitors they've with essentially lost no marketshare.

    Second, they're more than a little touchy about IP stuff after hiring Blizzard to develop a game based on their IP, not liking the final product and having Blizzard remove the direct references: Warcraft and later Starcraft go on to become one of the biggest franchises in gaming.

    Having one's ideas become one of the most profitable video game franchies ever without a dime of royatlies would seem to create an overprotective reation to any remaining IP.

  2. Rainforest Giant Here,


    If Games Workshop held the rights to 'Space Marines' that might hold some water. However, they do not. Furthermore they know they don't hold title to it or anything like that. It is a case of douchebaggery in the extreme. Let's not pretend that they believe they invented the idea, term, or concept of 'Space Marines'.

    They are simply trying to do a little bullying that will let them waive their lawyers around like six-guns.

    Rainforest Giant.

    P.S. It has been decades since I have purchased any of their product so they won't lose anything from me except some goodwill they had built up.

  3. Steel Paladin7/2/13 3:47 pm

    So... Bluto... ever see a Finecast model? GW's claim to superior quality evaporated after that blunder - a mistake they refuse to correct TO THIS DAY.

  4. What's your take on Paradox Entertainment and their claim to own the Conan the Barbarian.

  5. My point was they've been douchebags in the extreme for most of their corporate life with little risk to their business, thus moves like these cost them little (as their core market has always been transient and when it matters never cared).

    Also that there's little surprise they're aggressive (ie bullies) in IP matters since they lost the IP crown jewels to Blizzard years ago.

    Essentially, this move shouldn't surprise anyone who has had dealings with them before (and it's not going to hurt them in their core market of nerdy adolecent boys).

  6. Earl - The rights to Robert E. Howard's creations is a legal morass I just don't have lawyerly brains to figure out.

  7. sandy petersen12/2/13 1:14 pm

    I have had significant business dealings with Games Workshop. The fact is that they are cold-hearted non-idealists. Their attitude will likely be that any furor will blow ever, and then they will still own Space Marines. Remember that they are basing their legal model on the bad old days when companies like TSR did stuff like try to trademark the word "Nazi".

  8. Sandy- Then we can't let them get away with it. We can't let the assholes taint the whole business of doing business.

    PS- When did TSR try to trademark "Nazi" and why did they even want to do it?