Sued By GW Over Warhammer Name

Friday said that Games Workshop has filed a lawsuit against Curse for operating and maintaining a Warhammer Online-based fansite, (WA). According to this forum post, the lawsuit cites trademark infringement, cybesquatting of the WA domain name, dilution and unfair competition.

Shelby Cardozo, the site's founder, claims that the allegations are bogus. In the forum post, Cardozo briefly goes over the WA's history, dating back to 2004 when it was a forum for Climax Entertainment's canceled version of Warhammer Online. Apparently sometime in 2005 Cardozo worked with Mythic and Games Workshop over the legal disclaimer on the website, clarifying that WA is unofficial. In 2006 Games Workshop Licensing Manager Erik Mogensen even helped promote the site through various interviews.

All seemed well for WA for the next four years.

Now according to the legal documents filed Friday, Games Workshop recently stumbled across the website. "Now, I'm not a Rocket Surgeon, but this lawsuit smells like Greenskin dung to me," Cardozo said. "In the suit they allege that they just became aware of the site. But they were promoting it in 2006, 4 years ago?" Yep, something stinks.

One forum member points out that WA is ad-supported, and Cardozo even states this in a previous post. Games Workshop may be going after parent network Curse and WA because revenue is earned from using the Warhammer name. "This is Standard Operating Procedure for GW," the forum member said. "They like to protect their intellectual properties as well as their trademarks. They have allowed other sites to stay open as long as they receive permission from GW legal AND they do not make any profit on the site."

So what defines a fan-based website? Does it mean that site owners can't use ad revenue to pay for the domain name renewal, or to pay for the need for additional servers due to increased traffic? This development will be interesting, as it may open the door for additional lawsuits against fans who just want to promote a product.

If Games Workshop does actually win its case against Curse, the result may be really bad news for fan sites using ads to pay the server and domain name bills.

Read the full complaint in a lovely PDF format here.

  • banthracis
    So let me get this straight.
    GW wants to kill one of the biggest fan sites of their game, responsible for who knows how much publicity and promotion of their game, which incidentally cost's them nothing for all this publicity.

    Are they trying to get their own fans to hate them?

  • Fokissed
    Warhammer Online is a dying game anyway.
  • techguy378
    It is illegal to prohibit a fan website for a product from making a profit. is not doing anything wrong. What a baseless lawsuit.
  • hellwig
    I've never played Warhammer computer games (I only played the tabletop once at a friends house), and if the company behind it thinks it's ok to be big huge raging dicks like this, I really don't care to. I can't believe any company goes after fansites. These are the people who buy your products and promote its continued existence. These are the people who offer you up honest feedback for improvement and try to get others involved. This isn't a homoerotic incestuous Mario Bro's fan fiction website, they aren't defaming the franchise in any way.

    As mentioned in the article, how are these websites supposed to maintain themselves? They could ask for community donations, but honestly, how many people would pay to support a fan website? Hosting and registration aren't free (sites this big can't use Geocities, if it was even still around). Companies like GW should be supporting these websites (they wouldn't need ads if GW picked up the tab). That, of course, might not make the community so open, being sponsored by the company, but at least it would show support for the community, rather than spitting in their face.

    That brings me completely off topic. "Web 2.0" has completely killed free hosts. Why bother to signup for geocities or tripod (and have to learn the super-complex language that is HTML), when you can sign up for facebook or myspace or blogger? Bah, what is the internet coming to these days?
  • Teirdome
    Games Workshop has changed stances to now viciously protect their IP and is only damaging their own name. I love Warhammer, but GW's overly-reactive IP protection prevents me from talking about it these days.
  • I was a pretty avid supporter of Warhammer Online when it first came out, but the game's dying now, and I'm sure GW knows it. Seems like a cheap shot to pull in revenue wherever possible as the game slowly withers away. I had no problem with GW until reading this article, now I will NEVER buy another one of their products; I wouldn't want to promote it and get sued.
  • drutort
    fine then, can the fan sites go ask the game websites for money for the servers? I wonder if that would work? Oh the answer is no? wait then whats the problem... should ask them how do you suppose the servers get paid for?
  • jellico
    techguy378It is illegal to prohibit a fan website for a product from making a profit. is not doing anything wrong. What a baseless lawsuit.The problem is that, even when you're right and a suit brought against you is complete bullshit, you still have to spend money to defend yourself. Most times, it's cheaper to offer a settlement for less than the cost of the defense. All parasites... er, I mean lawyers, know this fact well; for most, it is their bread and butter. I have no doubt that is what's going on here.
  • Premium Subscription's that Curse is charging money for, probably started the ball rolling.
  • Just because a fan site is using ad revenue to fund their operation doesn't mean they are making a profit.