EA Slay Langdell In Trademark Row

After years of leaning on anyone who uses the word ‘edge’ in a gaming context until they back down, under threat of legal action, Tim Langdell has finally been defeated after picking too big a fight.  Langdell, who owns the global trademark for the term ‘Edge’, and his studio, Edge Games, have lost their court battle with publishing giant EA over the use of the term in ‘Mirror’s Edge’.

EA, never one to back down, filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in order to try and bring an end to years of trademark squatting.  According to IndustryGamers, EA states in the petition that Langdell “has continuously threatened to file suit against EA for distributing the Mirror’s Edge  game on the basis of his purported ‘family of registered Edge marks.’ Petitioners reasonably believe that Registrant will contest their right to use the Mirror’s Edge mark.” EA continues, remarking that Langdell “has no independent use that could support the registrations of the marks,” which include not only “Edge” but also “The Edge,” “Gamer’s Edge,” and “Cutting Edge.”

Some time ago, an EA spokesperson, speaking to IndustryGamers had the following to say:

“While this seems like a small issue for EA, we think that filing the complaint is the right thing to do for the developer community. A lot of small developers who are faced with this situation settle claims because they don’t know how, or can’t afford to fight for their rights.  We hope that as a result of this action, other developers will be less intimidated by unwarranted legal threats.”

Prior to the inevitable blow up with EA, Langdell famously threatened small developer Mobigames with legal action after they released a sucessful iPhone game called Edge.  The title was eventually removed from the App Store, even though the developers originally offered to change the name to ‘Edgy’ (which Langdell refused to accept, before registering the trademark for ‘Edgy’ himself).  Mobigames won support from gamers and those outraged by the perceived bullying, keen to support the underdog, though it would always be a decisive court victory from someone with enough financial means to sustain it, which would win out and perhaps end the stream of litigation.  And now, apparently, it has.

The US court refused Edge Games’ injunction, stating that it felt that Langdell had made ‘fraudulent statements to the US Patent and Trademark Office and has been “trolling” the games industry for licensing opportunities.’ It added that his actions ‘could possibly warrant criminal penalties’.

GamesIndustry.biz, after obtaining court documents, revealed the court had been shown that “Langdell had apparently submitted a faked cover of Edge magazine “which referenced his own products and organisation, as part of of his 2004 application for continuing trademark rights to the word ‘edge.’” They go on to reveal significant portions of the documents in which EA presented evidence that there was no genuine use of the trademark by Edge Games or Langdell himself, despite assertions to the contrary:

“Even after 2003, the evidence that plaintiff had been making bona fide use of the “EDGE” mark in commerce is suspect.”

Langdell was also found to have submitted other doctored game boxes, showing his trademarks, in order to support his claims.

“Curiously, while the exterior packaging submitted by Dr. Langdell to the USPTO for the Mythora video game included a website address, this website wasn’t even registered by Edge Games until October 2008 – nearly four years after the game’s purported release.”

A spokesman from EA told IndustryGamers that the company is “pleased with the opinion issued by the court. We hope that this case serves as a milestone in protecting independent developers from nuisance litigation.”

So, good news then and not before time.  For more information and a detailed breakdown of the whole Langdell/Edge affair, with a list of things that he has claimed ‘creative ownership’ of, take a look at this great piece over on TigSource.  Alec Meer from GI.biz has also written an extensive article on Langdell’s future and what the ruling means.

Source: IndustryGamers & GamesIndustry.biz

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  1. MarkuzR says:

    Guy is a litigious, elitist, egotistical non-entity if you ask me. If you have a games company that can’t produce games, then the only way to earn a crust is to sue people and license out a fucking word that most of us would likely use on a daily basis in general conversation: “Katona’s gone over the edge again!”, “I wish Jedward would throw themselves over the edge!” etc.

    Throwing his non-existent weight around to stop people from using “Edge” in any way shape or form would be fair enough if he was actually protecting something of merit, but a games company who haven’t actually released any new IP apart from ONE game in the last sixteen years… sorry, but that’s just taking the piss. That’d be like Richard Stilgoe suing people for using the word “unfunny” when he’s not actually been punting his unfunny wares around for more than twenty years.

    I’m glad that EA took him on and one, but it’s shameful that EDGE magazine pay this guy for the use of the word “edge”. I’ve used the word three times in this comment alone, should I be adding “®” or “™” to this too? Think not.


  2. Lorna Lorna says:

    Pop goes the weasel. I’d agree, he is a litigious bully who has got away with this nonsense for far too long. After being foolish enough to try it on with EA and their army of fire-breathing lawyers, it seems that he has met his match. I just hope that this is the end of it and that he will be stripped of those trademarks. What would happen in that case, I don’t know…presumably, Edge magazine and others who currently license it could sue for the return of all monies paid?

  3. Samuel Samuel says:

    This sort of shit doesn’t just happen in gaming, it’s a fairly common scam taking advantage of copyright and trademark laws. Apple are getting pissy at a company right now because of a product with ‘pod’ in its name, even though it’s not trying to con people into thinking it’s anything to do with the iPod. It’s all bullshit. Nobody can own language, or rather, they shouldn’t be allowed to pretend they do.

    Unusual to feel support for EA of all companies in this sort of legal wrangling, normally they’re the bullies, but for once I’m glad they’ve won this.

  4. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Did you just use the word “unusual” without license from Tom Jones?

  5. Samuel Samuel says:

    Bugger Tom Jones.

    (Actually, saying that is probably more likely to see him sue me… let him, I don’t own anything for him to take worth anything)

  6. [...] being defeated in court last week by EA and having his injunction to prevent them using the name ‘Mirror’s Edge’ thrown [...]

  7. [...] champions in their most recent court outing. No stranger to the inside of a courtroom, EA are fresh off a win against the notorious Tim Langdell and his Edge trademark trolling malarkey – a battle they viewed as a “milestone in [...]

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