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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 4:05am

    Monsters

    Wow. Normally it takes an entire army to kill Japanese monsters.

     

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  2.  
    icon
    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 4:06am

    Trademark Lawyer
    (5) Swamp

    Creature - Vile Rogue

    When summoned, all Dignity enchantments are destroyed. All Souls are destroyed.

    (2) Swamp + Tap: Select another target

    See, folks. This is why people play black. It's so hard to beat.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 4:27am

    Big company uses a frivolous legal claim to kill off a small company. Business as usual.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 4:35am

    ' 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!

     

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  5.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 4:37am

    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...
    http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/38694/godzilla-kaiju-world-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.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 4:53am

    Could Japan sue Wizard of the Coast for using Kaiju? Since, after all, I believe Japan was privy to the original usage of Kaiju...

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:05am

    Re: Monsters

    Lawyers are like gods. Nothing can surpass their destructive powers.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Kaijdo vs. Kaiju

    and so the KAIJUDO Wizards Of The Coast strikes down all other Kaiju, thus being the only remaining monster. Here is to hoping the armies of the world will kill the Wizards of the Coast monster so other lessor monsters have a chance.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    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.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:16am

    Re:

    I think in many cases the politicians, law enforcement and courts don't care or don't understand because they aren't affected by these things. Fire up a trademark, IP or copyright lawsuit against one of the above and you bet your ass it'll get changed in a heartbeat.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Monsters

    No, lawyers are always the Big Bad Evil Guy. Even when they're Lawful Neutral.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Ninja (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:21am

    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.

    Please. There are causes that deserve shitloads of money thrown at them to avoid bad precedents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Derptrain, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:22am

    Maybe

    It would be cool if the EFF or similar would take up this case, or a Lawyer would step up to offer free or cheap services.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 5:39am

    Odd that nobody has mentioned this yet, but the upcoming film Pacific Rim labels its giant monsters as Kaiju, but of course they won't take legal action against it since it is backed by studios which likely have enough funding to fight them in court and win.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Colin, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    Exactly what I was going to bring up. Wonder what will happen with that.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    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.

     

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  17.  
    icon
    AzureSky (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 8:05am

    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...

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    ebrum, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 8:46am

    Response to: Akari Mizunashi on Mar 25th, 2013 @ 4:06am

    Everybody knows black can't remove enchantments.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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

     

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  20.  
    icon
    akp (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    In case anyone's interested, they have a twitter account for kaijudo: @wizards_kaijudo

     

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  21.  
    icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    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...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re: use to be

    If you're still interested in playing tabletop RPG's, but don't want to support WotC, might want to check out Pathfinder, I've played both and it makes a great alternative/replacement.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 12:52pm

    Response

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Mar 25th, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    If it wasn't such old news, the way that Hazbro and Wizards of the Coast mangled Magic the Gathering online would be a perfect case study of Tech Dirt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    ShellMG, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: use to be

    An old, dear friend of mine still produces gaming modules and minigames through his company, Tri Tac Games. Might want to give Fringeworthy or FTL a try. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    elheat, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 6:15pm

    Guess Kaijuguy must sure be sad. He/she/it (?) always has his/her/its brony friends to fall back on

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 10:05pm

    Re: use to be

    Agreed. I used to play DnD, but then I found less restrictive, more creative and infinately more enjoyable systems.

    If you can find a quirky GM good on the fly, try Mutants and Masterminds. My favourite by far ^.^

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2013 @ 10:32pm

    Re: 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.

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    David (profile), Mar 26th, 2013 @ 8:53am

    Monster

    I'm surprised that Monster Cable hadn't beat them to it, considering their record for going after anyone who uses monster in anything...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Guy, Apr 24th, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Telling my friends about this, and we're boycotting WotC. I supported them by buying MtG cards for years, and now I vow to never purchase another licensed product from these bastards again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Chris, Sep 14th, 2013 @ 5:22am

    Not Dead

    Kaiju combat is no longer dead. All we did was change our name to Colosaul Kaiju Combat. Catchy, right? We plan to have another kicksaterter shortly. So be prepared.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 11:44am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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