Welcome to the confusing world of copyrights and trademarks
// Brittany Vincent
Years before the Angry Birds videogame franchise took the world by storm, pet accessory maker Hartz partnered with Seattle artist Juli Adams to release a line of cat toys going by the name of Angry Birds. A lawsuit filed by A... read
Last year a class action lawsuit was filed against Sega and Gearbox accusing the companies that the press demo shown at E3 of Aliens: Colonial Marines was not indicative of the final product and was misleading. Gearbox has re... read
$4.4 million agreement between Rhode Island EDC and bond attorney approved
// Kyle MacGregor
A judge has approved the first settlement in Rhode Island's lawsuit over the ill-fated $75 million deal that brought Kingdoms of Amalur developer 38 Studios to the state in 2010.
The ruling from Superior Court Judge Mich... read
With all this identity theft I am racking up a heap of benefits
// Brittany Vincent
Due to a class-action lawsuit concerning Sony's 2011 data breach which led to the theft of names, addresses, and possible credit card data of its 77 million users, the company has agreed to a $15 million preliminary settlemen... read
Back in April, Halo composer Marty O'Donnell said he had been terminated from Bungie "without cause," and proceeded to file a lawsuit against the company on May 1. Bungie went on to deny wrongdoing later that month but has si... read
The videogames industry has seen its share of legal actions lately, but the most recent one comes from an unlikely source. Manuel Noriega, the dictator of Panama until 1989, has filed a lawsuit against Activision for appropri... read
I'm pretty sure they also based Franklin on me
Lindsay Lohan has filed a law suit against Rockstar, the creators of Grand Theft Auto V. The suit claims Lohan's likeness is used in the game, without her permission, based on the character of Tracey Jonas. It's a pretty far-fetched claim, and sure not to go far. But it is worth a good laugh. read feature
The rumors were true. She's really going for it. Actress Lindsay Lohan has filed a lawsuit against Take-Two and Rockstar Games over a character in Grand Theft Auto V that's said to be based on her likeness without permission,... read
A UK court rules that Nintendo did indeed infringe on Philips' patent
// Brittany Vincent
For some time now, Nintendo has been locked in a legal battle with Philips over patents registered back in 2011 regarding gesture recognition and motion control. Philips claimed to have patented these ideas long before Ninten... read
Almost two months ago, longtime music composer for Bungie, Marty O'Donnell, was let go by the studio. According to O'Donnell, the termination was without cause. He may have had his hand forced, but O'Donnell's not going down ... read
In 2009, former NCAA players sued EA, claiming their likeness was used by EA without their consent and without compensation. EA tried long and hard to have the suit dismissed, but was forced to settle last year, for what was ... read
For falsifying financial records and inflating profits, former Index CEO Masami Ochiai and his wife, former Index president Yoshimi Ochiai, have both been arrested in Japan earlier today, Nikkei reports. Remember how Index wa... read
May 21 //
Jordan Devore In a press release, ZeniMax said "The suit arises from the defendants' unlawful exploitation of intellectual property, including trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how relating to virtual reality technology that was developed by ZeniMax after years of research and investment. ZeniMax provided this valuable intellectual property to defendants under a binding Non-Disclosure Agreement that specifies such intellectual property is owned exclusively by ZeniMax and cannot be used, disclosed, or transferred to third parties without ZeniMax’s approval. ZeniMax’s intellectual property has provided the fundamental technology driving the Oculus Rift since its inception. Nevertheless, the defendants refused all requests from ZeniMax for reasonable compensation and continue to use ZeniMax’s intellectual property without authorization.
"All efforts by ZeniMax to resolve this matter amicably have been unsuccessful. Oculus has recently issued a public statement remarkably claiming that 'ZeniMax has never contributed IP or technology to Oculus.' Meanwhile, Luckey has held himself out to the public as the visionary developer of virtual reality technology, when in fact the key technology Luckey used to establish Oculus was developed by ZeniMax."
You just knew this was coming The ZeniMax vs. Oculus VR situation has escalated following comments from both sides about how intellectual property and key technology driving the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset may or may not have been worked on while ... read feature
Philips is making an attempt to get the Wii U banned from sale in the US on the grounds of patent infringement. The electronics giant has accused Nintendo of replicating specific technology concerning navigation via "pointing... read
'We are disapointed but not surprised by ZeniMax's actions'
// Dale North
For those just tuning in, ZeniMax Media sent a formal notice of rights to Oculus VR and new parent company Facebook over intellectual property claims. Long story short, ZeniMax feels that work that happened with them carried ... read
In response to Gearbox Software filing a Complaint against 3D Realms and Interceptor for unauthorized use of the Duke Nukem trademark, 3D Realms (along with Defendants Apogee Software and Interceptor Entertainment) submi... read
Feb 25 //
The entire issue stems from a February 2, 2010 asset purchase agreement in which Gearbox bought the Duke Nukem IP from 3D Realms “except for very limited exceptions.” These exceptions are for the re-issuing of past games, such as the recent release of Duke Nukem 3D on Steam. Outside of that, Gearbox has the rights and control of the future direction of Duke Nukem.
Despite this contract being in place, Gearbox alleges that 3D Realms then went and licensed the franchise to Interceptor to create Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction. Gearbox is suing for, among other things, a permanent injunction to prevent this game from being released. It’s difficult to imagine Interceptor as anything more than an unknowing pawn in this entire ordeal -- a developer that thought it was making a legal deal because how should it know the company that was selling something didn’t actually own it?
That doesn’t explain the actions of 3D Realms, though. Given the details of the asset purchase agreement, it seems clear-cut that it had no right to make this deal. Did 3D Realms think it was being sneaky and that Gearbox would never find out? Because of the companies’ history of litigation, did it want to try to stick it to Gearbox any way it could, legal ramifications be damned? Is 3D Realms just that hard-up for money that it knowingly brokered an illegal contract to have some cash in the short-term?
Unless 3D Realms has a side of the story that’s wildly different than Gearbox’s, it looks like it simply put its middle finger in the air. Again, it’s all conjecture at this point, but how could these actions possibly be explained? This unsavory approach reeks of a developer that had one idea more than a decade ago and can’t move past it.
However, even if 3D Realms wanted to sell, why on earth did Interceptor want to buy? The Duke Nukem brand is not in good shape right now. After the throttling Duke Nukem Forever took, there might not be a worse IP to invest in right now. The entire “rude and crude” crutch that the series depends on has aged so poorly that it’s not viable for Duke Nukem to be a successful character in 2014.
The majority of the targeted audience for Duke Nuke can be broken up into two camps -- those that grew up with the franchise, and a younger crowd that reacts in kind to its trademark humor. The former has mostly matured beyond what Duke Nukem is willing to offer. That was clearly apparent given Duke Nukem Forever’s reception. The latter has absolutely no allegiance to the brand. They didn’t grow up with Duke Nukem, so the name rings evokes no sentimental emotions from them. There’s a sliver of people still fond of the franchise, but that group’s so small that it’s not feasible to market a large-scale game solely to them.
The wise thing for Interceptor to do would have been to create its own IP. That way, it would have been afforded the opportunity to mold a character and world that would have stood a chance right out the gate. Duke Nukem is absolute poison in 2014. It’s going to take a miraculous effort that vastly changes the series’ core tenets to make it relevant again. To boot, Interceptor wouldn’t have had to pay any licensing fees, as frivolous as they may have ended up being.
At the end of the day, it seems like Gearbox is going to come out of this one smelling like roses. Although, why didn’t it let Interceptor put out Mass Destruction and then sue for royalties? It surely would’ve been more simple to collect a check than to permanently prevent a game’s release. In the Complaint, Gearbox requests statutory damages as well as punitive damages -- the latter awarded for conduct that is found to be willful and wanton.
Gearbox is smart to take this approach, the reasoning being two-fold. First, assuming that it’s successful in its litigation, it’s less of a gamble to seek these damages than to try to take a percentage of what a game sells. No one knows how Mass Destruction could be received, and if it absolutely tanks (which is certainly within the realm of possibility), there might not be much money at all to draw from. Second, by obtaining the injunction, Gearbox gets to maintain full control over its property. Duke Nukem might not have much of a reputation right now, but you’d be hard-pressed to fault Gearbox for not wanting someone else to further screw that up.
If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Gearbox knows that neither of these two companies has the type of money to be able to satisfy any sort of judgment that’s awarded against them. With punitives in the mix, it has the potential to be very high. If this is the case, Gearbox is likely posturing itself to be able to obtain the work that’s already done on Mass Destruction in a sheriff’s sale -- similar to what Nintendo recently did. The saga of this game is probably far from over, and I’d be surprised if we don’t eventually see it released under Gearbox’s banner.
We’ll have to wait a while for the court proceedings to play out before we know what kind of resolution this ultimately has. The preliminary evidence all points in Gearbox’s favor, though. However, this could’ve all been avoided if 3D Realms and Interceptor hadn’t made such terrible decisions in the first place. Poor showing, guys.
Interceptor's not off the hook either With this week’s news that Gearbox Software has filed a lawsuit against 3D Realms and Interceptor for unauthorized use of the Duke Nukem property, it raises the question – exactly what the hell are 3D Realms and I... read feature
My mom's gonna hang this on the fridge. Following up Friday's debut of "Dumb Idiot Ideas," here's the first episode of another weekly series: "Farts 'N' Crafts."
On this show, I draw horrible pictures of things vaguely related to what's going on in the world of vid... read feature
Gearbox Software has filed a lawsuit in United States Federal Court against both 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment, alleging that the two colluded to use the Duke Nukem trademark and copyright unlawfully, and ... read
Licensing companies Technology Properties Limited LLC, Phoenix Digital Solutions LLC, and Patriot Scientific Corporation had a case against Nintendo for infringing on three of their patents relating to processors an... read
The highest court in the EU, The Court of Justice of the European Union, says that Nintendo's anti-piracy product security is lawful. The decision was handed down today for the current running PC Box case in Milan. While the ... read
Blizzard and NetEase are, according to MMOCulture, suing Chinese company Unico for $1.65 million (¥10 million) for their blatant rip-off of Hearthstone, which they've called Legend of Crouching Dragon.
Legend of... read
Nintendo acquired the entire patent portfolio of IA Labs in a sheriff's sale this week in Montgomery County, Maryland. The transaction came about as the result of unsuccessful litigation on the part of IA Labs.
In 2010, IA La... read
As a followup to Tomita Technologies International's patent infringement case against Nintendo for using its camera technology in the 3DS, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled last month that Nintendo would need to pay royalt... read
Were you injured in an accident on the job? Did Battlefield 4 give you incontinence, space measles, or sinusoidal finger? Then you might have a case.
Law firm Holzer Holzer and Fistel, LLC is investigating whether EA claims f... read
Claims likeness was used without permission in GTA V
// Wesley Ruscher
You know it's a slow news weekend when I'm reporting on findings from celebrity news website TMZ, but alas here we go.
According to reports from the site, former Disney debutant Lindsay Lohan is suing Rockstar Games over, wha... read
The trial between 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation has begun. Opening arguments from both sides were made Friday in Rhode Island Super Court, The Providence Journal repor... read
THQ says that Electronic Arts intentionally ruined THQ's relationship with UFC parent company Zuffa to get their own license deal. According to Polygon's findings, THQ is suing EA and Zuffa over the UFC game license. If you'v... read
Plaintiffs' attorneys call it a 'historic settlement'
// Brett Makedonski
Electronic Arts has bought its way out of a potentially nasty class action lawsuit, for use of the names, images, and likenesses of former and current NCAA student athletes. All it cost was an undisclosed amount, vaguely refe... read