Experienced Points: EDGE of Asshattery!

By Shamus
on Jul 24, 2009
Filed under:
Column

My column this week is about the word EDGE. Well, sort of. It’s about the guy who owns it. This story has been simmering in the background for a while, and I only just recently heard about it from Corvus. It is not a nice story, although it is nice to see that it’s coming to the forefront.

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20207Feeling chatty? There are 47 comments.

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  1. Mark says:

    Another example of the lumbering bureaucratic nightmare society is becoming. this langdell guy sounds like a royal prick.

  2. rofltehcat says:

    Unfortunatelly this shit isn’t limited to the gaming industry. Guys like him are doing this nearly everywhere.

    They are abusing the copyrights system to do exactly the opposite of what the copyrights system was intended for:
    Protecting the people that did actual work.
    What this guy is doing is trying to get money without doing any work.
    If you look at the sheer number of games his studio is ‘developing’ at the moment it is pretty obvious that something is wrong there. I bet they don’t have a single programmer or game designer.

    Something should be done about guys like him but unfortunatelly it seems like there can’t be anything done.

    Only about the IGDA… isn’t there some way to sanctionize members that behave unhonorably or in a way that damages the prestige of the association?

    The uproar in the gamer community just has to be big enough and this would be the perfect guy to set an example on:
    If you mess with a large crowd of people you will be lynched.
    With fire.

  3. Rutskarn says:

    I always hate it when bastards have the high ground. The system exists to stop clowns like this guy, not to give them an unassailable position from which to pummel the defenseless.

    It’s times like this you almost wish there was a vigilante who could set things straight. I’m more given to mercy than most people, but if I heard that somebody attacked this guy with a baseball bat until he signed a statement saying that he would no longer sue any individual for any reason at any time, ever, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit sympathetic.

    He needs to lose this one. Or be set on fire, his own grease feeding the blazing inferno until every inch of his worthless hide has become ash. Either way.

  4. katesickle says:

    Hmm, can we copyright the words “Tim” and “Langdell”? Barring that, I vote we get a list of the 10 words he uses the most, and copyright all of those.

  5. Winter says:

    Technically, if he actually got taken to court he would lose. However, like with the Penny Arcade/Strawberry Shortcake thing: it would cost so much money, and the .003% chance that he wouldn’t lose (due to insane judge, incompetent lawyers, whatever) make it just infeasible to fight him. He’s the troll under the bridge.

  6. Fenix says:

    Another of many reasons to rid of copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

    Probably have some light system saying who did it first or who gets credit, but other than that… just causes problems.

  7. Davin Valkri says:

    One more reason to dislike modern legal systems, I guess.

    And if Langdell hasn’t made anything in fifteen years, where is he getting the money to make this claim?

    Frivolous lawsuit; in a sane world, he’d defray Mobigame’s legal costs. ALL OF THEM. IMMEDIATELY.

  8. Nazdakka says:

    Wouldn’t it makes sense for these guys to give the EFF a call? It seems to me that all they need is an organisation willing to provide some legal backup to fend off the troll, and IIRC fighting this kind of abuse is one of the EFF’s favourite activities.

    Also, on Langdell’s ‘About’ page he claims to be related to Edge magazine (well respected British based gaming magazine). Anyone know anything about the truth of that?

  9. Adeon says:

    @Fenix: While I agree that abuse of copyrights, patents, and trademarks is bad I think that the system as a whole is necessary to encourage innovation and creativity.

  10. briatx says:

    I’d laugh at this guy and tell him I looked forward to his summons and an eventual check covering my legal fees.

    The problem is that Apple wouldn’t feel the same way.

  11. Zukhramm says:

    EDGE Games seems to have the exact same logo as Edge, the video game magazine.

  12. RPharazon says:

    I absolutely loved this article, Shamus. Definitely one of your best Experienced Points articles out there. It brought to light an often-overlooked and rumored bureaucratic mess to many people, and it’ll raise awareness about this issue.

    I can’t really say much except praise the sentence “Except that Tim Langdell himself is on the board of the IGDA, which is like having the Incredible Hulk as a member of The International Committee Against Smashing Shit Into Tiny Pieces.”

    Quite good, sir.

  13. Zeta Kai says:

    Tim Langdell & his ilk (only people this odious are classified as “ilk”) are vile, hateful beings who suck the joy out of the lives of others for fun & profit. They take from the poor & give to themselves, & thus should have no protections under the law.

    Now, I don’t mean that they shouldn’t have the right to free speech or other such guarantees. I mean that hitting them with a car should not be a crime. I wish bad things to happen to them, & only them. I condemn their actions, as I condemn anyone who defends those actions as just or fair.

    The above sentiment is not sarcasm, or even hyperbole. It’s how I genuinely feel about worthless scum such as Tim Langdell. I can only hope that he gets some kind of disfiguring face cancer.

  14. guy says:

    You know, it might actually be possible to resolve this with an E-mail to EA, who will likely be rather pissed at what amounts to a direct attack on their trademark. And if that doesn’t motivate them, the odds of them winning said suit might.

    It once lead to paramount suing youtube as an indirect result of someone getting someone else’s videos pulled by claiming to own Star Trek. I wish i were making that up.

  15. briatx says:

    @guy

    or Future Publishing (owners of Edge Magazine) who have registered (in the UK):

    Edge
    Edge 3D
    Edge Net
    Gamer’s Edge.

    (Unless it turns out that Mr. Langdell really is associated with them…)

  16. Fon says:

    There is a few things that could possible bring him punishment:

    1. Let God do it/let karma do it: Which we won’t know when

    2. Correct the law he was abusing: If we can find out which law he was abusing, we could request an amendment to that law. And if he is actually breaking law (Let’s say a law says that you can’t trademark a word you didn’t invent), we can attack him from there. Although we will need a real lawyer, which I am not

    3. Get another company who already used the name “Egde” to sue him: Many people have thought of this already, but I saw one at the Escapist that seems potential, the Edge Magazine, according to that person, they even have the identical logo. Link for those who didn’t go to the Escapist:
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/6.127002?page=2#2687705

    But I think I will pick option 1 for now.

    Edit:Oops, I just realize the person above me already covered option 3

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    I have posted on my weblog my reaction as an IGDA member. Click on my name or the following link to view “To The IGDA: I Would Like Tim Langdell’s Head On A Silver Platter, Please

    I do hope it’s properly dealt with. I don’t want to leave the IGDA, but I very well might.

  18. Hehehe says:

    @Rutskarn:
    That sounds like a job for Shamus Young’s superhero…
    The Broiler!
    Whaddya say guys?

  19. Mari says:

    Sadly, Shamus, if the game were renamed with your title suit-happy Timmy would file for defamation of character and libel. And probably actually be able to win that one.

    You know, in the perfect world I’m planning to create I think we’ll have some nice civil statutes against asshattery that would allow Timmy to be sued for breathing.

  20. The first lesson of this story is that if you invest in something that’s gonna depend on the App Store to earn money you’re stupid and you deserve it.

  21. Pocket Nerd says:

    Wow. Am I a bad person for hoping he chokes to death on a load of rotting hyena kidneys?

  22. Julian says:

    The sad thing is that I don’t see how there’s any way he’d actually win a lawsuit, since one doesn’t get to keep a trademark without using it in trade.

    Which makes messing with EA really stupid on his part, as this is the sort of thing that large companies can deal with really easily.

  23. HeadHunter says:

    I agree with those who recommend notifying EA of Langdell’s infringement on “Mirror’s Edge”. Unlike his frivolous suit, THAT is a legal challenge that would hold up in court and Mr. Langdell would get a much-needed and well-deserved taste of his own medicine.

    There’s a company that can afford to meet him in court and roll right over him until there’s nothing left but dust. And I’m sure EA’s legal department has a particular division of vampire lawyers whose thirst can only be sated by the blood of other lawyers. :)

  24. CrushU says:

    There are some who call him… Tim?

    Had to do it.

  25. MuonDecay says:

    IIRC, In some jurisdictions of the world, utilizing trademark explicitly for the sake of litigation and not to protect their own actual business interests is not only not legal, but a crime, and is punishable by punitive fines issued by a judge.

    Trademark infringement claims generally do need to be filed in a good faith belief that the defendant is actually causing some form of damages.

    Also, trademark is nowhere near as restrictively enforceable as copyright.

    Trademark exists to prevent one business from pretending to be another business, or from presenting their product as being someone else’s product. Basically the only thing Langdell is entitled to is to make sure nobody is masquerading as Edge Gaming or pretending to make an official Edge Gaming product. If the defendant can prove that neither is occurring, Langdell is told to go pound sand and stop being a prick.

    As long as defendants can field the money to fight this vile parasite off, Langdell gets his ass handed to him in the courtroom, AND honest people get to refer to the previous precedent of Langdell’s frivolous litigation in further court cases. Once one person stands up to him, momentum builds and the odds slowly start to turn more and more against the trolling loser.

    The thing about what Langdell is doing is that he’s basically bluffing in a very high-stakes game of legal poker. Once someone has the balls and the money to call him on his bluff, he starts to lose in a big way.

    Now, if someone could manage to dig up enough private dirt to demonstrate that he’s actually performing blackmail, he could even be tossed into a jail cell or given a massive fine… but that’s just a pipe dream at this point.

    He deserves to be put in jail for obvious and flagrant abuse of the law.

  26. The Guardian says:

    My first time posting here, but I’ve been reading this for almost a year now.

    The absolute world leader in frivolous “name trademark” lawsuits is Monster Cable. They basically claim to own the word “Monster”… they have sued hundreds, maybe thousands of companies, including Disney (Monsters Inc.), Monster.com, and others.

    Someone finally did stand up to them and it’s a hilarious read. http://www.audioholics.com/news/industry-news/blue-jeans-strikes-back

  27. Angie says:

    Umm, wow. :( I was a founding member of the Computer Game Developers Association, back when I was still in the business — Dave Walker and I’d get together for lunch once a week or so and hammer out “How do we wanna do this?” type stuff, and the larger group was getting together in the evenings (once a month? something like that) at Round Table Pizza in Sunnyvale (the one near the mall). This was all before the official launch according to the current web site. Way before — I’m talking about ’89 or ’90, somewhere in there. It was a fairly casual group of people, who knew each other and want to stand together on the issues that affected our industry. I can’t imagine anyone there condoning this kind of crap.

    I don’t think I know anyone associated with it anymore, and I’m just as happy that’s so. Better to think that a completely new band of idiots has come in and trashed the place than to think my friends and associates from back then have come to mess up this badly by tolerating that sort of behavior from a board member.

    Angie

  28. AGrey says:

    You know what would be great?

    If this guy actually did release a game, and Jack Thompson started a campaign against it.

    man, watching those two wastes of humanity sue and countersue eachother into oblivion would be quite a show

    [edit] now that i think about it, I bet someone who can’t get the money to defend themselves could possibly get some legal help from the ACLU. this kind of rights protection sounds like it’d be right up their alley

  29. Nazdakka says:

    I suspect that neither EA nor Future Publishing would see much value in helping. Sure, it would be a crowd pleaser, but sadly neither have any particular reason to actually care about a couple of indie devs.

    I suspect that the not-for-profits are the best bet for the developers here.

  30. MuonDecay says:

    now that i think about it, I bet someone who can’t get the money to defend themselves could possibly get some legal help from the ACLU. this kind of rights protection sounds like it’d be right up their alley

    The ACLU mostly works in civil rights and constitutional law, and AFAIK rarely ventures into IP law except the occasional patent challenge here or there for the public good. This variety of legal situation is far more appropriately tailored to the EFF than the ACLU. The EFF not only is more ideologically aligned with this sort of thing, but they also have more legal specialty in IP law than does the ACLU, per se.

    I suspect that neither EA nor Future Publishing would see much value in helping. Sure, it would be a crowd pleaser, but sadly neither have any particular reason to actually care about a couple of indie devs.

    I’m inclined to disagree. The “Mirrors a new game by EDGE” move is clearly Langdell posturing and considering going on the offensive against EA. That is to say, if EA doesn’t sue Langdell, Langdell might be stupid and ballsy enough to sue EA.

    Now, EA might consider it easier to just pay him off so he goes away… but on the other hand a more forward-thinking manager or counsel may actually decide to make a first-strike against Langdell, knowing that if they pay him off once, he’ll get a taste of blood and start posturing for payoffs on every piece of low-hanging fruit that they develop from then on.

    It might actually be worth their time to steamroll him into insolvency to prevent any future predation upon their assets.

  31. Jeremy Wolf says:

    A thought occurred to me: what about an “Edge” game development competition? I’ve heard of indie game competitions with various themes, so this would be something like that, where the name and preferably game play has to work in the word “Edge” somehow. The point being to dilute the trademark with numbers, or at least annoy the guy. Of course, who knows if anyone would be interested, much less be willing to expose themselves to the potential legal hassle…

  32. HeadHunter says:

    Sadly, that’s a case he could win in court… unlike the original one.

  33. HeadHunter says:

    I was just reminded of a story I once heard, which may or may not be apocryphal:

    We all know how litigious George Lucas has been regarding Star Wars. He forced FASA to change the name of their Battledroids game (to Battletech) because he felt that the word “droid” was his own creation – never mind that it is derived from “android” which has its origins in ancient Greek and means “man-like”. Most of Lucas’ “droids” are not man-like in the least, with the exception of protocol droids.

    When TSR published the Indiana Jones RPG, they were required to note on all game materials that the word “Nazi” was a registered trademark of Lucasfilm. Never mind that it was a word that was coined and used before Lucas himself was born.

    Those legal actions are fact. The rumored story is interesting in that regard, as it’s a sort of come-uppance. It is said that during theis litigious phase where Lucas pursued action against several tabletop RPG publishers, he challenged Marc Miller, claiming that the Traveller RPG was more-or-less stolen whole-cloth from Star Wars. Lucas felt there were similarities in sufficient number to merit this claim… until Marc Miller pointed out that his game was copyrighted and published a year prior to Star Wars – and thus, if there were indeed similarities, it was Lucas infringing upon Miller and not the other way around. Lucas quietly disengaged, and as far as I know has left RPG publishers alone ever since.

  34. Badger says:

    @Adeon: And *I* think you’re full of crap. “The system” exists ONLY to profit large corporations and shite-heads like Langdell, not the ‘little people’ who actually do the majority of innovating around the world. You’ve obviously bought the lines of RIAA and MPAA, so I guess all their advertising is paying off.

    Also, there seems to be a lot of confusion in this thread between copyright and trademark law- they are two completely different things, and subject to very different rules. Basically, as has been pointed out earlier, if you don’t use your trademarks, you can lose them. Copyright (effectively) can last forever, even if you never even publish the creation.

    I’m on the side of those saying Langdell should be sued into oblivion, since he’s a waste of skin and air. And THAT’s an effort I would be willing to contribute to. Also, I am sure the effort required to find out about every single thing this guy is involved with (even peripherally), and doing everything possible to make sure the world knows about them so they can be boycotted and otherwise made worthless, would be worth it. If he can’t be sued off the planet, maybe he can be ignored off it. And that would be even better.

  35. AGrey says:

    @MuonDecay:

    not quite sure who the EFF are, but thanks.

  36. MuonDecay says:

    The EFF is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. You can find info about them at their website here: http://www.eff.org/

    They’re a non-profit who have taken on some pretty significant legal cases. For example: filing suit against AT&T in the warrantless wiretapping fiasco, fighting to repeal the PATRIOT act, fighting for reform of the DMCA, etc.

    Think of them as being the ACLU equivalent for stuff geeks find important.

    For people who value freedom and neutrality on the internet, and in the digital and media realm in general, the EFF is becoming every bit as important as the ACLU.

  37. Winter says:

    Incidentally, for those looking to countersue the tactic you want is to trademark something with “gamers” in it, since the thing is called “Edge Gamers”, right?

    Then go to town.

  38. Davin Valkri says:

    To Winter: It’s “Edge Gaming”, but since Langdell the A****** also seems to claim “Edgy” as falling under his trademark, “Gamers” would probably work.

    We’d just have to convince Penny Arcade to trademark the term/concept/fashion/whatever. Maybe bring up the Strawberry Shortcake debacle and see if they want revenge.

  39. Adeon says:

    @Badger: While I agree with you that the system is being abused by large corporations that is not the only reason that it exists. The original purpose of copyright was to allow the creator of a work to obtain legitimate income from his work and it does still do that. It is an unfortunate side effect that large corporations are abusing copyright to their advantage. While I believe that getting rid of or at least heavily modifying some copyright legislation (such as the DMCA and the Sonny Bono Act) I do not believe that getting rid of copyright (or trademarks or patents) would be in the best interests of society.

  40. Auke says:

    @Mari: couldn’t you avoid a defamation / libel claim by extending Shamus’s title suggestion into: “It is my personal and subjective opinion that Tim Langdell…” That way, it would be protected by the right to freedom of speech.

    Alternatively, to alter the name without losing the buzz, it could be renamed to The Application Formerly Known As Edge. That should get rid of the trademark claim!

    Oh, wait…

  41. Marmot says:

    Holy crap, Shamus! (testing your profanity filter) This was shocking :( And I thought domaim name parking was bad…

  42. HeadHunter says:

    Too bad they couldn’t just call it “F*&^ EDGE”, eh? :)

  43. DaveMc says:

    @Badger, I’ve got to agree with Adeon, here. Our current framework for intellectual property has huge problems, but I don’t think that it should be abolished completely, by any means. It’s good for society for creators to be able to profit from their creative works; we just need to be less insane about it, and shift the balance towards actual creators rather than the huge conglomerates that bought the rights from a creator’s descendants fifty years after they passed away. (One key aspect of the insanity being how ridiculously *long* these protections are offered.)

    But to try to turn your sympathies around: say the plucky indie developer who developed Edge has their game stolen and rereleased under a different name by a company specializing in knock-offs. What recourse do they have to try to make that stop? Exactly, the copyright/trademark/patent system. It’s not always about protecting the rights of huge multinationals, it just feels that way because that’s what we hear about most often. Another possibly sympathetic example: the small start-up company with a Good Idea and a desire to profit from it. Patents and such protect them, too.

    But I must admit, I do sometimes feel the very same sentiment you expressed: let’s scrap the whole thing, we don’t need the whole concept of intellectual property any more. In the light of the morning I normally don’t see how that would work … what do you think? I’d be interested in what you envision.

  44. Declaratory judgment actions, which will allow you to recover attorneys fees, are often the only proper response to things like this.

  45. In fact, you might be able to make some interesting money bringing strike suits in response to cease and desist letters, where you seek declaratory judgments, attorneys fees and some of the potential related penalties.

    That is an interesting thought.

  46. Stringycustard says:

    On the Edge homepage there are an awesome 756 games listed. Nice to see all translations of games are listed as seperate games. 99% of stuff is also on systems like ZX Spectrum, C64 and Amstrad. There’s a sudden gap of non-development on modern hardware (except Iphone, and various simpler handsets) so it appears the company languished for a good few years before taking up phone hardware (and porting old stuff to said hardware, too – so nothing new).

    That Mirror’s does sound like something to look forward to. The plethora of screenshots and concept stuff along with all those gameplay vids floating on youtube… wow. So much development.

    And maybe I’m wrong, but it looks like he scored some hardware guys out of their cash by presumably suing them when they released computers under the line “Edge”. So he’s not even sticking to games.

  47. […] Of course, never once on their journey, spreading fear and misery in their wake, did they stop to sue those publishing the new Ghostbusters game or any of the many other titles they let go. Of course not, those games didn’t threaten their precious Guitar Hero. Wait, what? Brutal Legend isn’t a rhythm game and doesn’t even make use of a guitar controller, so why all the fuss? Why, because it’s about music of course, and anything about music is somehow bad for Guitar Hero which is kind of silly when you think about the direction the series has gone. Hell, Brutal Legend isn’t even about music in general, the game is focused on a single genre of music! Suing for that is almost as dumb as some assclown suing people because their game has the word Edge in it somewhere. […]

One Trackback

  1. […] Of course, never once on their journey, spreading fear and misery in their wake, did they stop to sue those publishing the new Ghostbusters game or any of the many other titles they let go. Of course not, those games didn’t threaten their precious Guitar Hero. Wait, what? Brutal Legend isn’t a rhythm game and doesn’t even make use of a guitar controller, so why all the fuss? Why, because it’s about music of course, and anything about music is somehow bad for Guitar Hero which is kind of silly when you think about the direction the series has gone. Hell, Brutal Legend isn’t even about music in general, the game is focused on a single genre of music! Suing for that is almost as dumb as some assclown suing people because their game has the word Edge in it somewhere. […]

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