Court Denies Injunction Against EA Over Tim Langdell's 'Edge' Trademark; Slams Langdell

from the trademark-trolls dept

We've covered a few different stories about a guy named Tim Langdell who held a trademark on the term "edge" in video games, which he had used many years ago, and still sorta kinda maybe uses as part of his operation, "Edge Games." And yet, he seemed to think that trademark law means he owns the word, as it relates to video games, forever. So he's been threatening iPhone developers and sued EA, claiming the company's Mirrors Edge series violates his trademarks. EA has fought back strongly against the claims, and Brian alerts us to the news that a court has denied Langdell's injunction request and slammed Langdell in the process, suggesting underhanded practices which could result in criminal penalties.
The court has denied Edge Games' motion for injunction, citing that it believes that Langdell made fraudulent statements to the US Patent and Trademark Office and strongly believes that Langdell is "suspect" and has been "trolling" the game industry for licensing opportunities. His actions could possibly warrant "criminal penalties."
When a judge calls you a troll and threatens you with criminal penalties in a lawsuit you initiated... you've got problems. Reading through the actual ruling is incredible, in what it describes about what Langdell has done. I would argue that the above paragraph significantly downplays Langdell's actions, which the court notes, at one point, that the evidence suggests Langdell "willfully committed fraud." You can see the full ruling here:
After discussing the background of the case, it jumps right into the part where it accuses Langdell of faking evidence (the judge even italicizes: "It was faked." in the ruling). The judge was even kind enough to include an image comparing an apparently faked magazine cover that Langdell sent to the USPTO, which the USPTO relied on:
The ruling goes through a series of other situations that appear to be blatant misrepresentations by Langdell in order to secure the trademark in question. For example, there's a comic book cover, which Langdell scanned and used to show the USPTO that he was still using the mark in commerce. Only problem? The comic book was published by another company. Oh, and it was published over a decade earlier, meaning it wasn't a very good example of how Langdell was using it in commerce at all. And, then there were some other similar situations:
For example, Dr. Langdell's declaration asserted that Edge Games has been selling the video game Mythora (supposedly bearing the "EDGE" mark) since 2004. Curiously, while the exterior packaging submitted by Dr. Langdell to the USPTO for the Mythora video game included a website address "www.mythora.com," this website wasn't even registered by Edge Games until October 2008 -- nearly four years after the game's purported release.... The USPTO relied upon this questionable video-game packaging when it renewed plaintiff's "EDGE" mark in 2009
The ruling goes on to note many more cases of images sent to the USPTO, where the images appear to be doctored, even mockingly saying after one such "real" and "submitted" comparison:
"Once again playing "spot the differences," the specimen submitted to the USPTO appears to have been doctored in three material ways."
This is a judge who is not happy.

The more you read, the more bizarre it gets. Since it's questionable as to whether or not Langdell had really been using these marks in commerce all along, EA's lawyers tried to see if he's really using them today. So it went and tried to buy some of the games he's claiming to sell... and they got error messages every time.

At this point, one would hope that Langdell realizes it's time to back off. He could, in theory, push for a full trial (this was just a move to get an injunction), but he must realize that his chances of winning this case are about as close to zero as you can imagine -- and the deeper he digs, the more trouble he may find himself in.

The story is yet another example of the dangers of trying to abuse the legal system sometimes. It can certainly come back to bite you.


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