Games Workshop Defends Position as Space Marine e-Book Returns to Amazon Following EFF Involvement

In a development on the 'Space Marine' legal dispute, Games Workshop has issued a statement and M.C.A.Hogarth's 'Spots the Space Marine' e-book has been returned to sale by Amazon. Possibly all as a result of the involvement of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

In the face of a rising tide of internet acrimony as a result of the potentially litigious ‘Space Marine’ controversy – in which Games Workshop is alleged to have influenced Amazon to remove an e-book with ‘Space Marine’ in the title from sale – the tabletop battlegame manufacturers released a statement via Facebook.

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The message, posted on Friday 8 February 2013, was as follows;

“Games Workshop owns and protects many valuable trademarks in a number of territories and classes across the world. For example, ‘Warhammer’ and ‘Space Marine’ are registered trademarks in a number of classes and territories. In some other territories and classes they are unregistered trademarks protected by commercial use. Whenever we are informed of, or otherwise discover, a commercially available product whose title is or uses a Games Workshop trademark without our consent, we have no choice but to take reasonable action. We would be failing in our duty to our shareholders if we did not protect our property.

“To be clear, Games Workshop has never claimed to own words or phrases such as ‘warhammer’ or ‘space marine’ as regards their general use in everyday life, for example within a body of prose. By illustration, although Games Workshop clearly owns many registered trademarks for the Warhammer brand, we do not claim to own the word ‘warhammer’ in common use as a hand weapon.

“Trademarks as opposed to use of a word in prose or everyday language are two very different things. Games Workshop is always vigilant in protecting the former, but never makes any claim to owning the latter.”

Meanwhile, the source of the controversy, the e-book edition of Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth, has returned to Amazon’s retail list. On her website on the same day as Games Workshop’s statement, the author wrote;

“I hope you’ll join me in applauding Amazon’s decision to reinstate the book. Amazon and other major retailers have given me wonderful opportunities as an independent author, not just in e-books but in print and audiobooks.”

The author goes on to explain that the support of her cause by the Electronic Frontier Foundation was “enthusiastic, supportive and productive”, as clearly evidenced by the activities of both Games Workshop and Amazon.

A message from M.C.A. Hogarth on “Trademark Bullying and Free Speech” can also be read on the EFF website.

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Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.