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Author Topic: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?  (Read 5677 times)

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #90 on: September 20, 2022, 07:41:23 AM »
In any case, I think WotC has no right to the Star Frontiers trademark and it would set a dangerous precedent if the judge rules in their favor. NuTSR is right: WotC abandoned Star Frontiers and selling shitty scans of books from the 1980s shouldn’t count towards maintaining the trademark. The trademark would have already lapsed decades ago.

Why didn’t WotC do anything when Sasquatch snatched the Alternity trademark? Hm? It’s actually caused brand confusion: I saw a moderator on Enworld claim falsely that WotC didn’t have the rights to Alternity, not understanding the difference between copyright and trademark law. Reviewers complained that Sasquatch wasn’t selling the old books, not understanding how copyright works.

That NuTSR is racist is irrelevant to the facts of the case. WotC lost fair and square, they have no intention of fairly maintaining the trademark, now they’re just being sore losers about it.

If the judge rules in WotC’s favor out of personal preference rather than the facts (WotC obviously lost the trademark decades ago), then that will have unintended and potentially dangerous consequences for trademark law. Back when trademark law was drafted, we didn’t have ebook retailers that made copies of a book infinitely available as long the store existed. If the existence of libraries doesn’t count toward trademark, then ebook retailers and streaming services shouldn’t either because they’re basically privatized libraries.

I mean, I don’t think any other company would defend a trademark they haven’t been actively using for decades, much less win another case like this in court. Do you?

Ghostmaker

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #91 on: September 20, 2022, 09:16:34 AM »
Can they both lose?

Also, the Earthdawn/Shadowrun connection reminds me of White Wolf's aborted attempt to tie Exalted into World of Darkness, except, y'know, FASA did it better.

Osman Gazi

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #92 on: September 20, 2022, 09:56:29 AM »
In any case, I think WotC has no right to the Star Frontiers trademark and it would set a dangerous precedent if the judge rules in their favor. NuTSR is right: WotC abandoned Star Frontiers and selling shitty scans of books from the 1980s shouldn’t count towards maintaining the trademark. The trademark would have already lapsed decades ago.

Why didn’t WotC do anything when Sasquatch snatched the Alternity trademark? Hm? It’s actually caused brand confusion: I saw a moderator on Enworld claim falsely that WotC didn’t have the rights to Alternity, not understanding the difference between copyright and trademark law. Reviewers complained that Sasquatch wasn’t selling the old books, not understanding how copyright works.

That NuTSR is racist is irrelevant to the facts of the case. WotC lost fair and square, they have no intention of fairly maintaining the trademark, now they’re just being sore losers about it.

If the judge rules in WotC’s favor out of personal preference rather than the facts (WotC obviously lost the trademark decades ago), then that will have unintended and potentially dangerous consequences for trademark law. Back when trademark law was drafted, we didn’t have ebook retailers that made copies of a book infinitely available as long the store existed. If the existence of libraries doesn’t count toward trademark, then ebook retailers and streaming services shouldn’t either because they’re basically privatized libraries.

I mean, I don’t think any other company would defend a trademark they haven’t been actively using for decades, much less win another case like this in court. Do you?

After reviewing the facts that you related here, it seems that WOTC's main beef is they want to use any tool at their disposal to make sure that any racist (either real racist like the alleged quotes given above, or "racist" in the woke sense) content isn't associated with them in any way.  And yeah, I don't want to see trademark laws get the Disney treatment that made the Mouse so privilaged.

Armchair Gamer

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #93 on: September 20, 2022, 11:07:41 AM »

wmarshal

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #94 on: September 20, 2022, 12:49:26 PM »
In any case, I think WotC has no right to the Star Frontiers trademark and it would set a dangerous precedent if the judge rules in their favor. NuTSR is right: WotC abandoned Star Frontiers and selling shitty scans of books from the 1980s shouldn’t count towards maintaining the trademark. The trademark would have already lapsed decades ago.

Why didn’t WotC do anything when Sasquatch snatched the Alternity trademark? Hm? It’s actually caused brand confusion: I saw a moderator on Enworld claim falsely that WotC didn’t have the rights to Alternity, not understanding the difference between copyright and trademark law. Reviewers complained that Sasquatch wasn’t selling the old books, not understanding how copyright works.

That NuTSR is racist is irrelevant to the facts of the case. WotC lost fair and square, they have no intention of fairly maintaining the trademark, now they’re just being sore losers about it.

If the judge rules in WotC’s favor out of personal preference rather than the facts (WotC obviously lost the trademark decades ago), then that will have unintended and potentially dangerous consequences for trademark law. Back when trademark law was drafted, we didn’t have ebook retailers that made copies of a book infinitely available as long the store existed. If the existence of libraries doesn’t count toward trademark, then ebook retailers and streaming services shouldn’t either because they’re basically privatized libraries.

I mean, I don’t think any other company would defend a trademark they haven’t been actively using for decades, much less win another case like this in court. Do you?

After reviewing the facts that you related here, it seems that WOTC's main beef is they want to use any tool at their disposal to make sure that any racist (either real racist like the alleged quotes given above, or "racist" in the woke sense) content isn't associated with them in any way.  And yeah, I don't want to see trademark laws get the Disney treatment that made the Mouse so privilaged.
From WOTC’s standpoint I think the most important thing is that they have to engage in the legal fight against nuTSR whether they win or not. They can’t be seen as just taking in stride nuTSR creating a StormFront version of Star Frontiers.

The other thing Hasbro will learn is that they will have to dedicate some effort to make sure no other trademark or other IP related to WOTC is ever allowed to be vulnerable to “capture” by an outside party ever again. I think what nuTSR is doing with Star Frontiers probably never crossed Hasbro’s collective mind, but now that it has they will be much more guarded with all their IPs much more than before.

Aglondir

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #95 on: September 20, 2022, 01:10:21 PM »
WOTC was enforcing their copyright at least as far back as 2018:

Quote from: Tom Stephens, Star Frontiersman website, 2/26/2018

I was contacted last week by WotC to let me know that they were revoking my permissions to post materials related to the Star Frontiers game and the original Dragon magazine articles.

I'm not a copyright expert, but Nu-TSR formed in 2020, so how can they win this?

Omega

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #96 on: September 20, 2022, 02:12:08 PM »
However, courts have ruled that if enough changes are made so that the products are "similar" but not "exact," then no copyright infringement takes place. This is how FASA got away with completely ripping off R.Talsorian Cyberpunk.

Wut?

You're telling me you never noticed the similarities between the premise of the two games? Both involve fighting a culture war against huge megacorps and jacking your consciousness into a massive digital network. Even the term "runners" is shared. Sure, you can say they both ripped off William Gibson, but Gibson never wrote a TTRPG, so the market was fair game.

Cyberpunk was released first in 1988 and was a cited by Paul Hume as an influence for Shadowrun, which was released a year later in 1989. FASA added magic and fantasy races, and tied the setting directly to their Earthdawn setting, which was enough to prevent any sort of IP infringement on Cyberpunk.

There was no need for FASA to try to "prevent any sort of IP infringement on Cyberpunk" since there was no IP infringement in the first place. The fact that Shadowrun shares a genre with R. Talsorian's Cyberpunk doesn't mean it infringed in R. Talsorian's IP. Genre doesn't equal intellectual property.  That's like suggesting that any RPG in which PCs explore dungeons is an infringement on D&D. That's not the way things work.


Also, Earthdawn wasn't released until 1993, 4 years after Shadowrun, and the connections between the games had *nothing* to do with attempting to prevent IP infringement.


Lou Prosperi
Earthdawn Product Line Developer, FASA, 1992-1998

Jesus Wept you people need to take out a grant and buy multiple clues.

Cyberpunk 2020 came out in 1988, Shadowrun in 1989. Considering development times and SR's bumpy development. It might well have been in the works before CP2020 for all we know.. More likely SR was in development before CP2020 came out. but finished after CP2020. They bear little in common past what they share in common with like 50% of all cyberpunk products. On top of that. CP2020 uses d10s while SR uses only d6s.

Now if you want to compare. Shadowrun and CP2020's Nights Edge from 92 setting bear some overlap. But come at it from different angles.

jhkim

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #97 on: September 20, 2022, 02:32:45 PM »
In any case, I think WotC has no right to the Star Frontiers trademark and it would set a dangerous precedent if the judge rules in their favor. NuTSR is right: WotC abandoned Star Frontiers and selling shitty scans of books from the 1980s shouldn’t count towards maintaining the trademark. The trademark would have already lapsed decades ago.

Why didn’t WotC do anything when Sasquatch snatched the Alternity trademark? Hm? It’s actually caused brand confusion: I saw a moderator on Enworld claim falsely that WotC didn’t have the rights to Alternity, not understanding the difference between copyright and trademark law. Reviewers complained that Sasquatch wasn’t selling the old books, not understanding how copyright works.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, but in general, I feel like what LaNasa did with trademark was slimy and deceptive. I didn't know about what Sasquatch did with the Alternity trademark - but from what I can tell of the new Alternity (a) it is co-authored by one of the original authors of the original, and (b) WotC is not offering PDFs of the original Alternity for sale.

Trying to bank on a deceptive trademark with a purely unrelated product seems exactly against the intent of trademark law in the first place.

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #98 on: September 20, 2022, 02:38:50 PM »
WOTC was enforcing their copyright at least as far back as 2018:

Quote from: Tom Stephens, Star Frontiersman website, 2/26/2018

I was contacted last week by WotC to let me know that they were revoking my permissions to post materials related to the Star Frontiers game and the original Dragon magazine articles.

I'm not a copyright expert, but Nu-TSR formed in 2020, so how can they win this?
WotC owns the copyrights until they expire in 2080 or so. They can give and revoke permission at whim, subject to contract stipulations.

Trademark has to be actively maintained or else it lapses. WotC claims they retained/reclaimed the trademark through common law, altho it remains to be seen whether that holds up in court. I don't believe they did enough to keep it and I belief the PDF sales of old books while letting the IP gather dust is exploiting a loophole in trademark law that goes against the original spirit of the law. Which is further complicated by the fact that copyright terms have been extended to absurd lengths that were never accounted for by the original laws, and the fact that the trademark is effectively worthless without the original IP to go along with it.

nuTSR poisoned the well with their bigotry so even if I hate WotC's business practices, I have no choice but to support them or else I'm on the side of nuTSR.

In any case, I think WotC has no right to the Star Frontiers trademark and it would set a dangerous precedent if the judge rules in their favor. NuTSR is right: WotC abandoned Star Frontiers and selling shitty scans of books from the 1980s shouldn’t count towards maintaining the trademark. The trademark would have already lapsed decades ago.

Why didn’t WotC do anything when Sasquatch snatched the Alternity trademark? Hm? It’s actually caused brand confusion: I saw a moderator on Enworld claim falsely that WotC didn’t have the rights to Alternity, not understanding the difference between copyright and trademark law. Reviewers complained that Sasquatch wasn’t selling the old books, not understanding how copyright works.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, but in general, I feel like what LaNasa did with trademark was slimy and deceptive. I didn't know about what Sasquatch did with the Alternity trademark - but from what I can tell of the new Alternity (a) it is co-authored by one of the original authors of the original, and (b) WotC is not offering PDFs of the original Alternity for sale.

Trying to bank on a deceptive trademark with a purely unrelated product seems exactly against the intent of trademark law in the first place.

After looking into it more, I feel bad for the Sasquatch folks. They tried to capitalize on the trademark lapse in an attempt to reclaim their own work, but were held back by copyright and fan expectations. Doesn't excuse them going MIA, but I can understand if they got burned out after realizing they bit off more than they could chew.

What Lanasa is doing is clearly slimy and deceptive, yeah.

In any case, I think WotC has no right to the Star Frontiers trademark and it would set a dangerous precedent if the judge rules in their favor. NuTSR is right: WotC abandoned Star Frontiers and selling shitty scans of books from the 1980s shouldn’t count towards maintaining the trademark. The trademark would have already lapsed decades ago.

Why didn’t WotC do anything when Sasquatch snatched the Alternity trademark? Hm? It’s actually caused brand confusion: I saw a moderator on Enworld claim falsely that WotC didn’t have the rights to Alternity, not understanding the difference between copyright and trademark law. Reviewers complained that Sasquatch wasn’t selling the old books, not understanding how copyright works.

That NuTSR is racist is irrelevant to the facts of the case. WotC lost fair and square, they have no intention of fairly maintaining the trademark, now they’re just being sore losers about it.

If the judge rules in WotC’s favor out of personal preference rather than the facts (WotC obviously lost the trademark decades ago), then that will have unintended and potentially dangerous consequences for trademark law. Back when trademark law was drafted, we didn’t have ebook retailers that made copies of a book infinitely available as long the store existed. If the existence of libraries doesn’t count toward trademark, then ebook retailers and streaming services shouldn’t either because they’re basically privatized libraries.

I mean, I don’t think any other company would defend a trademark they haven’t been actively using for decades, much less win another case like this in court. Do you?

After reviewing the facts that you related here, it seems that WOTC's main beef is they want to use any tool at their disposal to make sure that any racist (either real racist like the alleged quotes given above, or "racist" in the woke sense) content isn't associated with them in any way.  And yeah, I don't want to see trademark laws get the Disney treatment that made the Mouse so privilaged.
From WOTC’s standpoint I think the most important thing is that they have to engage in the legal fight against nuTSR whether they win or not. They can’t be seen as just taking in stride nuTSR creating a StormFront version of Star Frontiers.

The other thing Hasbro will learn is that they will have to dedicate some effort to make sure no other trademark or other IP related to WOTC is ever allowed to be vulnerable to “capture” by an outside party ever again. I think what nuTSR is doing with Star Frontiers probably never crossed Hasbro’s collective mind, but now that it has they will be much more guarded with all their IPs much more than before.
I'm hoping this means that WotC will start selling the original PDFs again in order to maintain their trademarks. While I still dislike corpos on principle, doing that would make it much easier for new people to get into the older games without worrying about being sued for copyright infringement.

Effete

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #99 on: September 20, 2022, 04:03:41 PM »
Jesus Wept you people need to take out a grant and buy multiple clues.

Cyberpunk 2020 came out in 1988, Shadowrun in 1989. Considering development times and SR's bumpy development. It might well have been in the works before CP2020 for all we know.. More likely SR was in development before CP2020 came out. but finished after CP2020. They bear little in common past what they share in common with like 50% of all cyberpunk products. On top of that. CP2020 uses d10s while SR uses only d6s.

So your evidence is... conjecture?
Finding the interview is like finding a needle in a haystack, but one of the original authors (I want to say Hume) stated that Cyberpunk was an inspiration for how Shadowrun came together. You don't have to believe me, I don't really care. But until I can track down the quote, we have exactly the same amount of supporting evidence: bumkiss!

Also, game mechanics don't fall under copyright. Just FYI.

Quote
Now if you want to compare. Shadowrun and CP2020's Nights Edge from 92 setting bear some overlap. But come at it from different angles.

Yeah, that's my entire point! Game developers borrow from each other all the time. It's the process of making it UNIQUE that develops an IP.

zircher

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #100 on: September 20, 2022, 04:16:28 PM »
Can they both lose?
We live in hope.
Since they will both incur legal expenses and other damages, the answer is yes.  :-)
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Effete

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #101 on: September 20, 2022, 05:18:45 PM »
I've had trouble locating the actual legal briefing of TSR's complaint without some website wanting me to sign up. I'll keep looking, but THIS SITE at least provides a summary of the complaint, including a full docket of the proceedings.

Here are some interesting facts:
TSR (LaNasa) files the initial complaint in Dec. 2021
WotC files their preliminary injunction (against the racist remarks) in Aug. 2022

Considering the battle has been going on for almost a year, and Wizard's is only now pulling the race-card tells me they (WotC) are desperate for a win. Now, all things considered, I think the injunction should be upheld. Whether the screenshots of Nu-StarFrontiers was leaked by a good samaritan or by the assclown LaNasa himself as some kind of stupid shitpost (and the guy LOVES to shitpost) is irrelevant; if that book goes into publication under the SF name, it can cause damage to WotC's brand. Period.

The issue with the use of trademarks, however, is less straight-forward. According to the summary, LaNasa (TSR) had repeatedly asked Wizards to show proof of ownership, which they failed to do. Wizards claims that because they license digital scans of out-of-print books to OneBookShelf for PoD service that they are "using" the trademarks. As I mentioned twice already, that is weak-ass sauce. Digital scans of old books are essentially "used copies" that OBS has the licensing rights to Xerox. WotC's argument is tantamount to saying that if a used bookstore sells an old copy of a 70 year old book, then the trademark is still "in use." This is stupid on it's face, and in my estimate, LaNasa owns the trademarks (if not the IP).
« Last Edit: September 20, 2022, 05:26:44 PM by Effete »

Effete

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #102 on: September 20, 2022, 05:25:21 PM »
WOTC was enforcing their copyright at least as far back as 2018:

Quote from: Tom Stephens, Star Frontiersman website, 2/26/2018

I was contacted last week by WotC to let me know that they were revoking my permissions to post materials related to the Star Frontiers game and the original Dragon magazine articles.

I'm not a copyright expert, but Nu-TSR formed in 2020, so how can they win this?

I can tell someone to stop printing shirts with the CokeCola logo it them. It doesn't mean I own the trademark to the logo. WotC allowed their ownership of the trademark to expire, but obviously think the law doesn't apply to them. It doesn't surprise me they think they can just boss people around because they bought something and threw it into their closet for 20+ years.

Edit - That notice to Tom Stevens coincides with the year WotC licensed old StarFrontier books to OBS. 2nd Edit - nope, sorry. OBS had the license since 2012. :razz [strike]So, basically, Wizards didn't care about the trademarks or IP until they decided to start making money off it.[/strike] Amended- Wizards didn't care about the trademark and IP WHILE they were also making money off it. Tom's use of the word "permissions" is interesting though. Did he have a WRITTEN permission from WotC, or is that word just used as a colloquialism? I'll need to dive into that when I get a chance.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2022, 05:59:16 PM by Effete »

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #103 on: September 20, 2022, 05:32:32 PM »
Thanks for the explanation Effete. I kept seeing people claiming that WotC was maintaining the trademark by selling the PDFs, which I thought was weak too.


Effete

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Re: Wizards of the Coast vs. TSR: IP Theft, Racism?
« Reply #104 on: September 20, 2022, 05:43:30 PM »
Thanks for the explanation Effete. I kept seeing people claiming that WotC was maintaining the trademark by selling the PDFs, which I thought was weak too.

NP.

I owe you an apology, btw.
My last post to you may have been a bit abrasive. I wasn't sure if your comment about people not knowing the difference between copyright and trademark was aimed at me or not, and I took to the offensive. After rereading your earlier posts, I would not group you in with the common laymen. So sorry if I insulted your intelligence.