Wizards Of The Coast Kills Popular Kickstarter Project Based On Questionable Trademark Claim

from the kaiju? dept

Wizards of the Coast doesn’t necessarily have the greatest reputation when it comes to intellectual property battles, and the latest one seems particularly silly. The company forced the “Kaiju Combat” Kickstarter campaign offline, claiming it was trademark infringement.

Kaiju Combat is a monster fighting game from Sunstone Games. Wizards of the Coast is claiming that this infringes the trademark on KAIJUDO, which is a card game they offer. While they have secured the Kaijudo trademark for video game rights as well, “kaiju” is an ordinary Japanese word meaning “strange beast” or “monster” and commonly is used to refer to the genre of Japanese monster movies like Godzilla. It would be ridiculous to claim that a neologism based on that common word would magically grant the trademark holder control over the original common word as well.

WotC had apparently contacted Sunstone earlier about their claims, and Sunstone had their lawyer explain the nature of trademark law and the fact that Kaiju is a common word… and they heard nothing else. Apparently, they assumed that the situation was settled, though I would think that confirming that before launching the Kickstarter might have been a reasonable move. Simon Strange, the owner of Sunstone, told GamePolitics (link above) that he understands the nature of trademark law, and the fact that you’re supposed to protect your marks, but he figured that it could be settled between discussions with lawyers, rather than suddenly having his Kickstarter project taken down and all its backers informed of the dispute. And, now, he’s worried about legal costs:

“Obviously we can’t afford to spend our very limited development budget, which was provided by our backers on Kickstarter, on fighting over a name,”” He says. “But at the same time it would really make me sad if we’re forced to change our name just because we can’t afford to defend ourselves. I’m still hopeful that it won’t come to that.”

Maybe Kickstarter should automatically populate projects that are taken down like this with a special “legal fund” Kickstarter while they wait for details to be worked out.

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Companies: sunstone games, wizards of the coast

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Comments on “Wizards Of The Coast Kills Popular Kickstarter Project Based On Questionable Trademark Claim”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Monsters

I don’t think lawyers can be Lawful. Although they wield the power of the law, they twist and bend it to they whim. Therefore – ironically – they must be chaotic.

Most are probably neutral – they’ll that the opportunity to screw a gentle old lady as quickly as they they’ll screw Satan itself – but they are also flexible in this regard: their alignment can be easily changed by using money (once again revealing their chaotic nature).

Speaking of money: lawyers are expensive. They have a passive ability that drains money from your party for every hour that he remains with them. The amount of money depends on the lawyer’s level.

But they are useful to have around. Their “Lawyerspeak” ability drains intelligence from enemies and is useful for keeping enemy lawyers distracted while the party deals with other enemies.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Monsters

I said, “there was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves.

“It is likewise to be observed, that this society has a peculiar cant and jargon of their own, that no other mortal can understand, and wherein all their laws are written, which they take special care to multiply; whereby they have wholly confounded the very essence of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong; so that it will take thirty years to decide, whether the field left me by my ancestors for six generations belongs to me, or to a stranger three hundred miles off.

Here my master interposing, said, “it was a pity, that creatures endowed with such prodigious abilities of mind, as these lawyers, by the description I gave of them, must certainly be, were not rather encouraged to be instructors of others in wisdom and knowledge.” In answer to which I assured his honour, “that in all points out of their own trade, they were usually the most ignorant and stupid generation among us, the most despicable in common conversation, avowed enemies to all knowledge and learning, and equally disposed to pervert the general reason of mankind in every other subject of discourse as in that of their own profession.”

–Gulliver’s Travels

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Monsters

>I don’t think lawyers can be Lawful. Although they wield the power of the law, they twist and bend it to they whim.

You’ve just described lawful. A chaotic character will just disregard the law altogether. No need to twist and bend in order to justify their whim. Unless of course the law happens to suit their purpose.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘ we can’t afford to spend our very limited development budget on fighting over a name, but at the same time it would really make me sad if we’re forced to change our name just because we can’t afford to defend ourselves.’

and this exactly the reason why they are being put into this position! how many times have other legitimate companies been forced to not progress or close completely, even though they knew what they were doing was legal? protecting what is yours is one thing, stopping something else from competing, progressing or even existing when you have no right to do so is disgraceful. funny how politicians, law enforcement and courts dont do anything about this when they are so keen on stopping other copyright tragedies, isn’t it? a simple ‘submit definitive proof first or pay the consequences’ would solve this and take about as much time to introduce into law as it did when they introduced the ones that crapped on the people from a great height, with no sensible recourse available!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Exactly. This is the underlying problem behind a lot of the issues discussed here on Techdirt. “Do you wanna get sued?” should never be something that can be used as a chilling effect.

When someone honestly and legitimately feels that they are in the right, but is still afraid to defend themselves in court because they might be ruined anyway, the system is fundamentally broken. We need a way to address that, as a higher priority than playing whack-a-mole with the symptoms that this disease causes in our society…

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

WOTC is a subsidiary of Hasbro.
The genius minds who just issued Axis and Allies: WWI
For people playing the home game – Axis and Allies is a term used exclusively for WWII.

I know I’ve seen a game called Kaiju Wars…

This could have nothing to do with them having shot themselves in the foot with their other holdings by mismanaging them and demanding tolls on new ideas to recover.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is another among a list of many reasons why I have refused to support Wizards of the Coast in any capacity. Though I’m pretty sure they’ll just file me under the ‘pirate’ banner because it seems nobody can differentiate between a lost sale from downloading and a lost sale from pissing off your customers.
Before someone jumps the gun to assumptions, I don’t pirate things from WotC. I just don’t buy any of their products any more.

AzureSky (profile) says:

use to be

I use to be a big DnD fan, but, after the actions of WoC over the years, I have long since decided to not support them in any way, infact, I wont even play DnD anymore if the person bought the books and gave WoC money.

this is for you WoC, you lost a long time fan and lover of table top RPG’s due to your BS actions such as this…

Anonymous Coward says:


In other news, Warner Bros sues Wizards of the Coast (WotC) for infringing their Wizard of Oz trademark (it’s so Wizard!). WotC parent company Hasbro forced to accept buy out from Disney, who is then sued for trademark infringement over WotC and, despite their lawyers’ best efforts, copyright infringement over Oz, the Great and Powerful.

Shawn says:

Doesn't Matter

Wizards of the Coast is not evil and it doesn’t matter if the word is common or not. Copy logos and rights are pretty simple. If you can confuse the two products, then you are infringing on the original’s rights. However if you choose not to fight the name similarities then you lose your right to fight it. So companies HAVE to fight or they lose the right to. So they aren’t evil, they are doing what any company would do if someone infringed on their rights, fight. SO unless you are a lawyer or know what you are talking about, shut up and quit listening to these reporters that don’t know shit and just want to get hits by make Wizards look bad. When you make a new product it is your responsibility to check for names. These guys should have to change their names and glad Wizards didn’t have to waste time fighting.

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