Schoolyard Bullies

Go and read this:

Then decide whether you want to laugh or cry. Short version: Feldon, tireless tinkerer behind EQ2Wire, one of the most, if not the most useful EQ2 site (news, armory, gear lookups, etc. all in one place) is bullied by some guy who claims he has a trademark on a character name, despite the fact that

  1. EQ2Wire only provides a WoW-armory-like frontend to API data that is publicly accessible from SOE servers,
  2. the claim that a character name infringes on his wordmark because, among many other things, is registered for a classification that, again among many other things,  includes “Game services provided on-line from a computer network” sounds quite spurious,
  3. the character was named before his trademark was registered.

I especially like the part where the guy says

I can not understand why do you make such trouble. The easy way is delete it. You can then tell your client that he breaks laws. What is easier for you? deleting ONE user or making your website unavailable for all European countries?

I can’t help but read this in a fake Italian Mafia movie voice: “Luigi, why are you making-a this so difficult-a for me-a?” This, by the way, is also where the bullying comes in. You could, of course, try to explain your points and give proof to your claims instead of shouting “IT’S VERBOOOOTEN!” and having Feldon run around and do the footwork. But why if it’s easier to just claim someone’s website will be offline in all of Europe (yeah right) at a snap of your finger?

Despite the outlandish sounds of this silliness, the guy isn’t actually completely out of his mind in all points, I’m afraid. Though thankfully, his claims at least look haphazardly stitched together. The guy is probably annoyed that after (supposedly) tanking his business and letting expire his domain, one of the first hits on google is to a Dark Elf character on Antonia Bayle who likes to RP evil, and claims some unsavory deeds in his character’s biography, such as “murder, treason, and poisioning[sic] the Qeynos water supply”.

Despite coming from a family of law practitioners, I never studied it myself, so I won’t try and give my non-expert opinion here. But it’s probably not a 100% frivolous claim, as much as I wished it were. If you look long and hard enough at each point, you can find things you could argue in favor of that guy, if you had to. I hope Feldon will have a chance to talk to SOE (as a premier EQ2 site, he seems to have some good contacts over there), and maybe can get an opinion from their legal department. Hopefully, they’ll tell him not to worry, and either rename the character (the sad solution), or give him some big company backing (since this indirectly also touches the issue of their public API data), and hope the guy reconsiders after he’s called on his bluff.

Of course, chances for the sad solution are much higher because it requires less work and expenses from SOE’s side.

This is the world we’re living in, girls and boys.

If I had the money, I’d be thinking about registering every single character name I ever used as a wordmark now. These days, playing the stupid trademark game seems to be the only way to get rid of the scourge of trademark frivolity.

2 thoughts on “Schoolyard Bullies

  1. If you want to see how silly it can get, check out the Marvelman/Miracleman comic book debacle that has been going on since the 1950s.

    1. Not very deep into the comic scene, so I had never heard of that. After a short read, almost sounds like a poster child for championing freedom of art over trademarks.

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