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The Courts Government Entertainment Games News

The Perseverance of a Trademark Troll 63

Sockatume writes "Eurogamer has published an article on Tim Langdell's battle against the Edge iPhone game. Langdell, a British entrepreneur, founded Softek (later renamed The Edge, Edge Games and Edge Interactive Media Inc.) in the 1980s as a venture to fund game development, with profits to be split 50/50 with the developers. He moved to California in the 1990s in the wake of accusations of failing to pay his developers. Now a professor in games studies at National University, an IGDA board member, and a former member of BAFTA-LA's board, 'Dr.' Langdell spends his time accusing people of infringing his trademarks and offering to settle. After delivering a settle-or-die ultimatum to Edge publisher Mobigames (detailed in the article), he has convinced Apple to pull the game from the App Store. Mobigames is preparing to strike back: their lawyer believes that his trademarks are 'liable to be revoked.' Langdell has had a spate of bad press lately as other trademark disputes come to light, involving entities ranging from EA Games to Britain's venerable Edge Magazine (source of Edge Games' logo and now registering its own Edge trademark). He has never actually prevailed in a trademark hearing."
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The Perseverance of a Trademark Troll

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday August 08, 2009 @06:33AM (#28994963)

    If obscurity were the measure by which a trademark claim could be defended, there are many companies (many of them English!) that would be unable to protect their trademark.

    Langdell's company makes games. A quick browsing of Wikipedia shows that "lol ura fagit" and that Edge Games is currently in development to bring their C64 games to the Wii.

    So, being the trademark holder, Langdell actually needs to do what he can to protect it or risk losing it. This isn't being a troll, it's looking out for one's own best interest. His trademark is old, on the order of decades. Why would he relinquish it now to some upstart?

    • by skrolle2 ( 844387 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @09:08AM (#28995437)

      He's a troll, because he's obviously exploiting it and only going after successful games that might infringe, and he always threatens to drag it to court unless he gets a big bag of money. In the case of the iPhone game he wanted them to change the name, AND half of the revenues accumulated up until the name change. Mobigames offered to change the name of their game to Edgy, whereupon Langdell as quickly as possible trademarked that name as well, and said that that name change also wasnt' acceptable.

      Oh, and they're apparently developing a game called "Mirrors, a game by Edge".

      It's those little details that make him a huge trademark troll.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Um... There is nothing quick about filing for and acquiring a new trademark for a new trade name, and there's a review process involved, during which time, Mobigames could file dispute of the trademark registration, showing the registrant didn't have exclusive use.

        I would expect Mobigames could rename their app much more quickly than he could file for and get another trademark.

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @06:40AM (#28994977)
    To have an Edge Monster [tabberone.com]?
  • Title (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @09:43AM (#28995565)

    I should point out that my original title for this article did not refer to him as a trademark troll. I think the term is overused and honestly should only apply to people like Leo Stoller who have no business registering a trademark in the first place, not folk like Langdell who (IMO) take a perfectly valid trademark registration and behave like total assholes in their exploitation of it.

  • Why is Dr. in quotes? Is his doctorate a fake?
    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @09:55AM (#28995637)

      He's got a doctorate in experimental child psychology - his thesis was on autism. It's just that he refers to himself as Dr. Langdell all the time.

      • So? That's what you do when you have a doctorate. That's what doctorate means. It means you're a doctor. You don't have to be an MD to be called 'doctor. Maybe it's changed in the 10 years since I've been to college, but when I went, you called your professors 'doctor' when addressing them.
        • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Informative)

          by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:17AM (#28995743) Homepage

          I thought the common use was to use the "Dr." prefix when used in an applicable context. Referring to yourself as "Dr." in the context of computer games when your doctorate is in experimental child psychology would imply authority where there is none.
          No law or rule, just common use.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            No, that isn't common at all. The common use is to use "Dr." whenever you feel like it. It is perfectly acceptable and not misleading at all.

            Anyone who assumes that someone has expert knowledge in any field whatsoever, just because they stick some letters in front of or after their name, is being stupid. There is no reason for people who have earned a doctorate to hide that fact just because there are idiots around.

          • Someone with a PhD is perfectly entitled to call themselves Dr. at all times, regardless of circumstances, and common sense doesn't enter into it. My father has one. He calls himself Dr. when buying plane tickets, filling out medical forms, introducing himself to others, and at any other time when someone asks him for his honorific.

            • He is perfectly entitled to call himself "doctor", but honestly it just reeks of puffing oneself up when it's used to sign off on his legal and business documents and omitted elsewhere. In retrospect ["Dr. Langdell"] would've been better than ["Dr." Langdell].

        • Those of us who are not pretentious twats find that behavior to be annoying. Hence, the twat quotes around 'Dr.'


          • I'm sorry that you find courtesy annoying. Most of us find the lack of it to be the annoying thing.
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @11:17AM (#28996005) Journal

    According to TFA, the publisher pulled it after being threatened. Dumb move, IMO; if it comes to court, Langdell will claim that as an admission of liability.

    As far as I can tell, Langdell's company never released a game identified as "Edge" or anything similar.

    • You're right, I misunderstood this paragraph:

      But not everyone shared in the celebration. On 7th April, 2009, five months after its release, Papazian received an email from Apple. It stated: "We have received notice from Edge Games, Inc. ('Edge') that Edge believes your application named Edge infringes Edge's rights. Accordingly, please take steps to review your application to ensure that it does not violate the rights of another party."

  • by Shar-Kali-Sharri ( 890290 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @01:26PM (#28996771)
    Someone went and made a game out of this man's career, Edge Tycoon: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=6619.msg211236#msg211236 [tigsource.com] You play Tim Langdell trying to patent game names before the games are made, and then sue the developers. I found it rather funny.
  • I'm pretty sure edgegamers.org, a very large gaming clan, had to pay him a fee to keep using the name.

    From his website:

    The movie "The Edge" staring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, was released by 20th Century Fox under license from EDGE

    Yeah, what a troll.

    1. Trademark common english dictionary word
    2. Sue anyone having anything to do with word
    3. Profit

    • Let's start referring to games as Edges. Pass the edge please (along with Kleenex, Frisbee, and legos). Use it generically and it is gone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2009 @12:31AM (#29000583)

    I'm a member in good standing in IGDA.

    Recently (in the last month or so?), the following email went out to all registered IGDA members asking to sign a petition to have Tim Langdell removed from the IGDA's board:

    The actions of IGDA board member Tim Langdell since his election in March 2009 have raised questions regarding his suitability as our elected representative. As you no doubt know, the IGDA's mission is: To advance the careers and enhance the lives of game developers by connecting members with their peers, promoting professional development, and advocating on issues that affect the developer community.

    Tim Langdell's company, Edge Games, has trademarked the word "edge" and they leverage this trademark against any media that contains this word--threatening legal action should their target not enter into a licensing arrangement with the studio. Such targets have included David Mamet's film The Edge, Marvel's comic book Edge, EA's Mirror's Edge, and Namco's Soul Edge, which was released as Soul Blade and later, Soulcalibur in the west as a direct result of Edge Games' actions. Most recently their actions have resulted in the removal of the indie game hit, Edge, from the iPhone app store.

    Meanwhile, Edge Games has not been associated with the direct production of an original video game in the last fifteen years.

    After his election to the IGDA board, in a lawsuit against Cybernet regarding Edge of Extinction, Tim Langdell presented himself to the court like this: "Dr. Tim Langdell is considered to be a pioneer in the field of computer gaming and is widely publicized on the Internet and has been engaged as a legal expert in the field of computer gamin." He adds "He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Game Developers Association, which is the largest game association worldwide".
    Many of us believe that this is a gross misrepresentation and feel that Tim Langdell is able to use his position on the board of the IGDA to work directly against the mission of the organization. As IGDA members with voting rights, it is our responsibility to elect a board that we can trust to represent us. But no election system is perfect and sometimes corrections need to be made.

    We are asking that you take some time to consider this issue, do a little research online, make up your mind how you feel about it, and take action.

    Under the IGDA bylaws, we are able to call for a special meeting of the membership to vote on the removal of Tim Langdell from the board of directors. In order to do this, we need 10% of the membership to request the board call the special meeting. We are hosting a petition to this effect here: (removed link, as the special meeting is going forward)

    Thank you for your consideration,
    Concerned Members of the IGDA

    • by KPexEA ( 1030982 )
      I posted about this last week but it never made it to the front page.

      Tim Langdell & the IGDA on Wednesday August 05, @03:31PM KPexEA
      Submitted by KPexEA on Wednesday August 05, @03:31PM
  • Is he also suing U2's guitar player [wikipedia.org]?
  • Speaking of trademarks... does anyone know of a trademark analog of "copyleft"? What if you want to release a mark for free use, but want to avoid someone else claiming it as a trademark later?

    • by Chyeld ( 713439 )

      I doubt there could be such a thing since the point of a trademark is significantly different from that of copyright.

      Trademarks are meant (not that they always are) to simply be an 'identity'. In other words, you trademark something in order to prevent others from appearing to be you by using that mark.

      You trademark the word "Edge" because you presumably do business in some form or another as "Edge". Either you sell "Edge" or you are "Edge" and are selling something, or you have a character "Edge" as an adv

      • by doom ( 14564 )

        Thus, there is no real "release to the public" analog, other than simply abandoning your trademark by no longer using it. And that doesn't really 'trademark left' it, it just means it's no longer currently considered a trademark. If someone else came along after you abandoned the trademark, they could just as easily start their own "Edge" trademark.

        You have a point, and yet, there are things that can't be trademarked, e.g. things that are "generic". So a real anti-trademark might be a way of saying "I wa

        • by Chyeld ( 713439 )

          The way you make something generic is by convincing everyone to use it in a generic sense. Even then though, Apple is a trademark yet an apple is about as generic as you can get.

          • by doom ( 14564 )

            The way you make something generic is by convincing everyone to use it in a generic sense.

            And what kind of evidence would it take to convince a judge that this has happened?

            Even then though, Apple is a trademark yet an apple is about as generic as you can get.

            I think that's "arbitrary/fanciful", not generic... and I think you'll find that Apple computer didn't make it impossible for you to sell apples, what they did is get a lock on the association between apples and computers. They could not, for ex

            • by Chyeld ( 713439 )

              And what kind of evidence would it take to convince a judge that this has happened?

              About the same amount that it would take to convince someone that your copyright infringement was protected as fair use, an arbritrary and undetermined amount that would only be defined at the moment the case was being decided.

              I think that's "arbitrary/fanciful", not generic... and I think you'll find that Apple computer didn't make it impossible for you to sell apples, what they did is get a lock on the association between a

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