EA Sues Langdell

By Shamus
on Oct 1, 2009
Filed under:
Video Games

A reader sent this link along:

Electronic Arts is Suing Tim Langdel. This is like finding out Jack Thompson will be in a steel cage match with Kevin McCullough. I don’t care who wins, I’m just glad they’re fighting!

Actually, that’s not quite true. I think EA are scoundrels in the short-sighted business sense, but I’ve never thought of them as criminals. Aside from the EA Spouse controversy I’ve always thought of them as more aggravating and bumbling than malicious and predatory.

Langdell has been inexplicably baiting them (his site as been promoting a game called: MIRRORS a game by EDGE) and so now he’s going to get in the ring with someone about three orders of magnitude above his weight class. He seems to be up for it, so it should be an interesting fight. Of course, these sorts of cases unwind slowly, and it will probably be a few years before we see the outcome, but maybe he’s finally feeling a little of the discomfort he’s inflicted on so many others. Or maybe he sees this as his ticket to riches. But this is like fist-fighting an elephant for its tusks. Yeah, that would be a pretty sweet prize, I guess. If you’re a jerk. And if you live.

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20201353 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Selifator says:

    If only Celebrity Deathmatch was still on, they could make a Gamers Episode about this.

  2. Jez says:

    Nice to see EA taking on the mantle of the little guy for once, I guess. Hopefully this will put him out of the business of extorting game developers for good.

  3. 1d30 says:

    I hate to see a big company suing somebody as a punishment. You see, they don’t even need to be right. They can sue someone and be totally wrong, but it will never get to the end because the little guy doesn’t have enough money to stay in the ring. Effectively a company with a legal staff has become a governing body in our country, and it’s sick.

    That said, Langdell is a lawsuit happy jerk and I’m happy to see him get what he gives. Likewise if EA is focusing on him there’s less harm they can work against the rest of society. It’s a win-win all around.

    Now if only we could get Halliburton and Monsanto and Nestle to sue each other into oblivion …

  4. SoldierHawk says:

    I laughed for a good couple minutes after reading this. Karma is a bitch, ain’t it?

  5. gyfrmabrd says:

    Mad world, ainnit?
    The most hilarious thing in this already pretty hilarious turn of events? This quote from the kotku-article:
    “The key dispute for the past two to three years … has always been between the multinational conglomerate EA and Edge fighting for its rights as a relatively small indie developer up against the giant corporate bully, EA,” Langdell wrote. “It is a great pity that another fellow indie developer, Mobigame, got caught in the crossfire, but at least EA are now out in the open with their fight, now openly trying to stifle the legitimate rights of indie developers.”
    I think I’ll start a petition to have this quote as the new Wikipedia entry for the term “hypocrisy”.

  6. Galenor says:

    @gyfrmabrd

    Good god. That’s downright slippery.

    Well, add this news to the fact that there are rumours of Microsoft buying EA up, and you’ve got yourself a massive evil co-operation headbutting contest. :P

    http://www.gamepro.com/article/news/212227/rumor-microsoft-to-buy-ea/

    There hasn’t been anyone coming out to say this is true – in fact, there has been people coming out to say this is false – but as business goes, a “No” one day could be a “Yes” the next. Watch this space :)

  7. Yar Kramer says:

    Man, this is like the inverse of the first Aliens vs Predator movie: “whoever loses, we win.”

    Though frankly I’m rooting for EA. They aren’t actually hypocritical [INSERT ANATOMICAL SLANG HERE]s.

  8. Jazmeister says:

    EA at least is a business. You know what to expect from a big nasty business. Landgell could pull any shit. He could claim to have trademark rights to just about anything with his track record. This isn’t what the law is for.

    I do agree with 1d30, though; it’s weird that this isn’t just illegal and that the government isn’t just nailing him for it, but it’s not “surprising”.

  9. rofltehcat says:

    From the article you linked:
    But Langdell counters that EA is trying to poison sentiment against his company, and that its accusations “sound like comments intended to sway indie game news reporters’ opinion and deflect you away from the obvious fact that it is EA [that] indie developers need to be protected from.”
    Haha, this is gonna be fun!
    Well, you know… if court trials wouldn’t be year-long slugfests.

  10. Nova says:

    This is brilliant. How chuffed am I?

  11. Juni says:

    Apparently, what goes around comes around.

  12. BlckDv says:

    I spent a good minute looking at the headline “Ea Sues Langdell” attempting to decide what language it was in.

    Without the EA in caps, my mind totally failed to register sues as likely an English word, and with both other terms proper names, I was left baffled. “Ia Suh-es Laan-gdll” is this some kind of Lovecraft thing?

    Then I read the article, talk about a letdown.

  13. Neil Polenske says:

    How are people misconstruing this as a comupence for Langdell? In order for the ‘what comes around goes around’ sentiment to apply, he needs to not see this coming and HE’S the one who STARTED it. As was so clearly pointed out by the article above, Langdell was baiting EA. This wasn’t him biting off more than he can chew – well it is actually – but HE obviously doesn’t care.

    My guess is Langdell’s gonna fold like a piece of paper out of court for whatever settlement they decide on. For him, it’s not about if he wins, but if he can convince EA he’s easier to buy off than fight. EA’s not sticking up for the little guy here, they’ll just want this douche out of their biznass and if he’s got the funds to drag this out when it revolves around one of their bigger titles, they’ll prolly play ball with paying him off. This is less like a fist fight with an elephant, and more a miquito flying round it’s head.

  14. NotYetMeasured says:

    But this is like fist-fighting an elephant for its tusks. Yeah, that would be a pretty sweet prize, I guess. If you’re a jerk. And if you live.

    This is the best analogy I have seen in *YEARS*. It brightens my day just reading something so clever.

  15. HeadHunter says:

    HEADLINE: Langdell eats little fish, then is EAten himself.
    “There’s always a bigger fish,” observed Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, a bystander. :)

    The irony of this situation is delicious. I cannot believe the stones this guy has – to say something like “the obvious fact that it is EA [that] indie developers need to be protected from.” when Langdell is the one who has been going after indies like Mobigames.

    I also can’t believe he’s trying to assert that EA has abandoned the trademark to “Mirror’s Edge” when the product is currently on the shelves.

    Neil Polenske says perhaps Langdell did this on purpose, hoping for a settlement to shut him up. But you don’t sue someone and then give them money. Why would EA buy off someone they are suing?

    No, EA has the resources to fight this battle to the end and the legal skills to know it’s a fight they can win. Too bad we’ll have to wait so long for it to play out.

  16. LintMan says:

    I find the whole idea ridiculous that that you can trademark a simple everyday word and then use that trademark to extort money from anything in the same vague category of products that uses that word in any way. Gah.

  17. Rutskarn says:

    I can’t wait to see EA win this one.

    Eeaghh. I really, really can’t stomach saying that.

  18. krellen says:

    Trademark law is almost as stupid as copyright law.

  19. Neil Polenske says:

    “Neil Polenske says perhaps Langdell did this on purpose, hoping for a settlement to shut him up. But you don’t sue someone and then give them money. Why would EA buy off someone they are suing?”

    If it’s cost them less money/time (which still = money), then heck yeah they’ll buy him off. I doubt they will and from what little I’ve gathered, they’ll probably strip him bare, but that doesn’t mean its out of the question. Have you never heard of the term ‘out of court settlement’?

  20. Lazlo says:

    Hmmm. You’re far too optimistic. My prediction: EA reaches a “settlement” with langdell in which his company is acquired by EA, and he is given access to EA’s legal department for the pursuit of litigation-based revenue opportunities on behalf of EA. The best case then is that he ends up with effectively the same fate as Rollin White and Smith & Wesson (which turned out fairly well for S&W, not so much for White…)

  21. Jabor says:

    I never thought I’d be saying thus, but…

    I hope EA wins convincingly.

  22. Didacsoy says:

    That made may day. Shamus, your tusk analogy was brilliant: I’ll have to remember to steal it so I can sound as clever as you someday. Now this makes me wonder if we should petition for some kind of ‘Business Darwin Awards’.

  23. Unbeliever says:

    BlckDv@12:

    THANK GOD I wasn’t the only one with that reaction. “What language is this? Eeyah Soos Languhdell? Is this a game quote I’m painfully unaware of?”

  24. Ergonomic Cat says:

    That is a spectacular analogy.

  25. SolkaTruesilver says:

    This of all the XP he will win just by getting out alive of such a CR encounter…

    (yes, this is what I intially thought)

  26. Elzair says:

    I think EA are scoundrels in the short-sighted business sense, but I’ve never thought of them as criminals. Aside from the EA Spouse controversy I’ve always thought of them as more aggravating and bumbling than malicious and predatory.

    I cannot share your appreciation for EA. What they did to Origin was certainly malicious and bordering on criminal. Since Ultima > *EDGE, I would almost want to see EA get raped.

  27. MadTinkerer says:

    Elzair: I don’t particularly like EA either, but in this case they are the lesser of two evils.

    Tim Langdell hasn’t been able to bring a game to completion in the last fifteen years because he’s withheld payment or otherwise back stabbed every single developer that’s ever worked for him directly. If Langdell wins, then it will encourage other swindlers to game the legal system just like he has and financially ruin many more indie developers.

    So actually, I’m cheering for EA in this case. They’ve done serious wrong in the past (coughBullfrogcough), and they’re biggest selling products are mediocre dross (coughMaddencough), but in this case it really is much better for everyone if they win.

    Also, look at it this way: EA are paying for dealing with Langdell, as opposed to a company you like having to spend their money. It’s win-win.

  28. AboveUp says:

    It feels weird that I’m cheering for EA for a change. I hope they destroy Langdell, it’d be the best news all year.

  29. Groundhog says:

    Tricky one, this. Both parties are bastards, albeit in different ways. Still, Langdell is the pettier of the two, so I guess I’m rooting for EA.
    Let’s hope they stomp the asshole into the dungstack, once and for all.

  30. Veloxyll says:

    Legitimate rights of patent trolls more like it.

    It’s wierd to be hoping EA wins, but having the courts tear up Mr Langdell’s trademarks would still be delightful.

  31. Vladius says:

    Edge is OUR word! We need it so that we can make games that are dark… and dare I say it, edgy!

  32. ehlijen says:

    Given what he’s been doing, Langdell can’t not have seen this coming. I can therefore only assume that this is part of some kind of plan and unless it’s the world’s worst devils advocate scheme (Look! See how horrible these laws are and how easily I abuse them? They must change! After I’m done abusing them!) I don’t think we’re going to like his plan. So I’m hoping it’s not going to work, even if that means EA wins this.

  33. Gregory Bogosian says:

    I am Routing for EA. They sell inferior products but as far as I know they don’t send their lawyers around to bully people who can’t afford to defend themselves for insane reasons.

  34. You know, lately EA’s been a lot cooler and less evil than normal. They’d still be doing this regardless, and I’d still be on their side here even if they hadn’t gained cool points elsewhere, but I’m just saying: EA’s not too horrible these days.

    Or maybe Activision is just stealing their dick-thunder.

  35. HeadHunter says:

    @Neil #19:
    “If it’s cost them less money/time (which still = money), then heck yeah they’ll buy him off. I doubt they will and from what little I’ve gathered, they’ll probably strip him bare, but that doesn’t mean its out of the question. Have you never heard of the term ‘out of court settlement’?”

    Yes – out of court settlements happen when the defendant buys off the plaintiff. I need to reiterate that it is EA suing Langdell, not the other way around. They initiated the suit – that’s not something they’d do if they were going to pay him off. Why would they settle anyhow?

    EA believes Langdell is infringing on their existing trademarks (and he clearly is), so they must pursue this or they will forfeit those trademarks to him, essentially. If that was their goal, they wouldn’t need to press a suit, would they?

  36. MuonDecay says:

    Now if only we could get Halliburton and Monsanto and Nestle to sue each other into oblivion …

    What have Monsanto and Nestle done that counts as evil? o_o

    Or maybe Activision is just stealing their dick-thunder.

    That came off sounding resoundingly lewd.

  37. Dev Null says:

    I’d like to agree with Headhunter – because you’re making good sense – but I’m going to have to go with Neil. Langdell was obviously fishing for this lawsuit, so he must have _some_ plan in mind for how to profit from it. (He’s certainly not planning on profiting from, say, writing games.) I don’t know what it is – I thank the GM that I probably wouldn’t understand it if I did – but I’ll bet he’s got something planned. I hope whatever it is fails, the judge awards EA a Pyrrhic victory with almost no payout, and the lawyers eat all of their young and choke.

  38. anachronist says:

    Gosh, don’t any of these guys know how to use a thesaurus?

    If this Langdell fellow wants a monopoly on the word “edge” in the context of game titles, let him have it. This makes me want to go out and trademark the words boundary, frontier, ledge, perimeter, rim, threshold, etc. — any of which may be just as good as “edge” depending on the game.

  39. MuonDecay says:

    The problem is, most people making a game would have sensibly thought that nobody out there would be so assholish as to use trademark law as a vehicle to extort money from people who are decidedly not violating a trademark.

    Langdell is deliberately pouncing on people who use the word without foreknowledge of his trademark.

    A name change at the late stage at which this predator attacks can have meaningful costs, not the least of which would be the loss of momentum in publicity, something that is really important to an indie developer without much marketing resources in the first place. If they spend a while before release raising awareness of their game, and suddenly have to change it, you think they can afford to blanket publications with a name-change notice? Any pre-release publicity is going to lose some steam. That can hurt sales.

  40. Lain says:

    Hmm, my native language isnt english…

    Anachronist said: “If this Langdell fellow wants a monopoly on the word “edge” in the context of game titles, let him have it. This makes me want to go out and trademark the words boundary, frontier, ledge, perimeter, rim, threshold, etc. — any of which may be just as good as “edge” depending on the game.”

    Isnt there a american Wrestler with the name “Edge” for around 20 years now in his job?

    And arent there some PC-Wrestling games with him on the market?

    Hmm…potential crossfire from the WWE then……

    Anyway, if u let Langdell have the the total control of a word in the context of game titles like u proposed, he and other morons would fast have control of ANY possible word and number. Inclusive “and” and “the”. Cant be the effect we all desire.

  41. rofltehcat says:

    @20
    Hmmm. You’re far too optimistic. My prediction: EA reaches a “settlement” with langdell in which his company is acquired by EA, and he is given access to EA’s legal department for the pursuit of litigation-based revenue opportunities on behalf of EA. The best case then is that he ends up with effectively the same fate as Rollin White and Smith & Wesson (which turned out fairly well for S&W, not so much for White…)
    God help us all if that happens…

  42. Of course the real question is why we have not seem more Langdells out there. If EA settles this one, it will probably generate a host of followers.

  43. krellen says:

    @Dev Null: I think Langdell’s plan in this is to win the lawsuit. He won’t, though. His trademark is flimsy and stupid, and even trademark law follows the basic universal rule of “don’t be a douchebag” (almost all laws can be traced back to this general principle), and Langdell is obviously a douchebag.

    @Lain: “The Edge” is the other half of the leading force behind U2, which is probably what you’re thinking of.

  44. eri says:

    Landgell is a petty asshole and nothing more. I hope they sue him into the fucking dirt. This is a case where I would very much like to see the elephant not only keep its tusks, but use them.

  45. John Lopez says:

    Prior suits from Landgell indicate that has no interest at all in “winning”, except some cash at the judicial lottery. He’ll likely fold with a token settlement/license fee so he can continue to be a jerk with his ownership of a word.

  46. krellen says:

    Prior suits from Landgell indicate that has no interest at all in “winning”, except some cash at the judicial lottery. He’ll likely fold with a token settlement/license fee so he can continue to be a jerk with his ownership of a word.

    Settlements only work when you’re pressing the suit. EA is not going to settle with Langdell – he won’t be able to meet their price, and since they’re the ones suing, they will not be paying him to drop the suit.

  47. ehlijen says:

    Maybe he’s already packing for another escape to a country where he can’t be touched? Is there such a country left considering that he’ll also want to continue abusing trademark laws and the new country must therefore support them?

  48. AFAB says:

    This is the stuff epic courtroom drama movies are made of.
    Of course, I have a feeling we’ll be
    the only ones watching said movie…

  49. Cody says:

    I think you guys got it wrong, nobody is settling anything. Langdell has been goading EA on about this Mirrors game for a while now. Langdell wants some money from Mirror’s Edge but his arguments for the rights to “edge” are so flimsy he has no chance in hell at winning a law suit against EA. Now he has successfully teased EA into suing him in the hopes that EA would lose the suit. This would give him a legitimate reason to counter sue for the rights to Mirrors Edge.

    This isn’t how it’s going to turn out though, he poked the alligator and it’s going to turn around and bite him in the ass.

  50. Jazmeister says:

    It’s funny that people think EA would say “hey, don’t do that!” and then give up and hand over a pile of cash for no reason. I think that’s funny.

    What Langdell is doing is beating up little kids, saying “Hey, you’re playing with sand! That’s my sand! All sand is mine, I am the sand king.” EA is the kid who knows damn well nobody owns sand, is partial to playing in sand himself, and happens to be 200ft tall with rocket fists.

  51. Brendan says:

    Shamus, I saw this print advertisement on the internet that really gives you a hint of how far EA has fallen.

    http://chrishecker.com/Image:Cry.jpg

  52. Oleyo says:

    I am also wieghing in on EA’s side. I think EA is evil in the greedy cooperate “harvest-the-masses” sense, and do not buy their products, but It is always nice to see some friendly fire casualties in the Evil Army.

    I think that EA is willing to plonk down some cash in order to see this case through and make an example out of this guy. Like the school bully who finally runs into an actual tough-guy, I think Langdell is definately in “three orders of magnitute” over his head :)

    btw@Jazmeister “200ft tall with rocket fists.” made me laugh hard and it is satisfying to imagine it knocking down Langdell’s sand castle.

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