Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rifts Lawsuit Dismissed

I ran a Rifts one-shot last night, and much hilarity and fun and explosions and weaponry with "plasma" in the title ensued. What I had failed to see from Jason Richards and Trask (who have both been doing yeoman's work in reporting developments) is that Rifts had its lawsuit against Trion Worlds (over trademark use of Rifts) dismissed by a Michigan judge yesterday. It seems to be a jurisdiction issue, so Palladium could refile in another state, I believe.

However you look at it, bad times at Palladium, and probably a bit disheartening. Courage, guys. But at least they didn't touch Floopers, by god:

I can't imagine why.


Maasenstodt said...

Well, as someone who disagrees with the very notion of intellectual property, and with Palladium's approach to it in particular, I'm glad to see Kevin get shot down on this matter.

As a fan of Kevin's work and someone who'd like to see the Palladium continue to thrive in the marketplace, I'm very disappointed that he's spent six weeks wasting time on this stuff.

Zachary The First said...

@M: I find it somewhat ironic that this would happen to the gaming company best known for its plethora of trademarks and copyrights in everyday print.

Either way, its unfortunate.

Maasenstodt said...

You're right about the irony, but I wouldn't say that "this happened to Palladium." Rather, I think Kevin brought this upon himself.

Of course, given what I know about Kevin, the case may well be taken on to California now. I hope he doesn't do that, though. Given the state of the company as he describes it, to further pursue this matter would be to put Palladium at serious risk.

Instead of investing major amounts of capital on protecting trademarks that loose value while they sit undeveloped, why not continue to do that which has brought the company every ounce of success it has had in the past (i.e., produce exciting to read gaming books)?

d7 said...

The unfortunate thing is that most holders of intellectual property overestimate the monopoly rights granted to them by the system. (That said, I Am Not A Lawyer…)

It looks like Palladium is arguing that it's a trademark violation on the face of it, but in the details they're arguing that the videogame contains ideas similar to the titular rifts in the Rifts RPG.

Trademark law would only apply if a judge considered the videogame to be in a close enough industry—could be argued, yes—and if they judged that consumers would likely be confused between the two products because of the similar names—very unlikely. (Trademark is a consumer protection law, not a company protection law.) Ideas touch on copyright law, not trademarks. But, the kicker is that copyright law only touches on them by explicitly saying ideas cannot be copyrighted at all—only their tangible expression is protected. (Hence why retroclones are generally considered legal.)

Mixing completely unrelated parts of IP law like that is likely to get any suit dismissed rather quickly once a court looks at the substance of the complaint, and I don't think the claims have much chance when they're separate either. It really is a shame that Palladium would waste scarce time and money on a suit that they're probably in the wrong about.

Anonymous said...

This is a common tactic to use a persons know character flaws to get them to destroy their own company, proceed carefully, better to defend your own rights then to try and shut other efforts down...

Anonymous said...

Instead of making a better product and focusing on innovating and making a good brand, Kevin is wasting time on these distracting lawsuits.

The gaming industry has changed, so many innovations have already occurred and better material is being seen thanks to a global source for artists and writers as well as a global market.

Sitting on one's Copyright hoping it will keep making the same amount of money is unrealistic and highlights an unhealthy stubbornness to think the world will not leave him behind.

The Idea of the Kitchen Sink setting is getting old, and many other settings can achieve it in their own way. Traveller Hard times and Throw in some fantastic aliens fits the bill quite right. Infinite Worlds, Fading Suns, and WH40K can do it easy and the ton of other homebrews.

Copyright works in creative content, not very well in systems that are utilitarian. Instead of improving on the system, he's sitting pretty on his copyright. if the free market is not speaking loud enough for him to move his ass, I don't think any rational discussion would convince him otherwise.

d7 said...

Somebody has got a personal beef with Mr Siembieda…