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A Brief Statement On The Mobigame/Edge Games Article
by Simon Carless on 06/10/09 01:03:00 am   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

So, I just wanted to use my Gamasutra blog to make a brief comment about the article that GameSetWatch and Gamasutra posted about 10 days ago regarding the iPhone game Edge and its removal from the App Store.

This is because I want to explain the circumstances of its removal and the site’s current stance on the article. Here’s the information:

- On May 28th, we published an article written by myself which followed up on FingerGaming’s news that Mobigame’s Edge had been removed from the App Store due to a trademark dispute with a company called Edge Games.

- After we published the article, I contacted Edge Games' Tim Langdell for comment, offering him a rebuttal. Following that, Mr. Langdell made comments that I construed to be of a legally threatening nature. Mr. Langdell has also followed up with several phone calls attempting to reach my superiors and directly contacted our lawyers regarding the article.

- As the publisher of Gamasutra I made the decision to temporarily take down the article while I consulted with our legal team about the situation as part of usual protocol.

- We stand by the article and we believe that it clearly explains and justifies the factual information within the piece, and any opinions are clearly those of the author. Therefore, we have decided to re-post the article as set forth below, albeit in the weblog section of the site.

Although the article was taken down, several mirrors of it allowed people to read it, and separately of my comments, a number of other articles have been published on the matter.

There was a fair amount of discussion on Gamasutra's Expert Blogs in the week after the FingerGaming article was posted - in particular, Stephen Jacobs' blog has a long comments thread that includes both Edge Games and Mobigame representatives discussing the issue.

Probably the most complete article recapping the events thus far is Derek Yu’s latest post on TIGSource.com, which obviously has his opinions also interleaved into it, but nonetheless links to the major timeline of what has occurred since the first FingerGaming.com article.

I’m also appending the original article, including all of its links (which were removed in some mirrored versions) below:


[In this analysis piece, Gamasutra/GSW publisher Simon Carless looks at the trademark infringement case against Mobigame's Edge to discover why Soul Edge never made it to the West under that name and the litigious habits of IGDA board member Tim Langdell.]

So, browsing our sister iPhone game site FingerGaming.com just now, I was surprised to learn about 'Edge Pulled Over Alleged Trademark Infringement', a news story about why Mobigame's excellent iPhone title (and IGF Mobile nominee) Edge was pulled from the App Store recently.

Quoting a statement from the article: “We have legal issues with a man named Tim Langdell,” says Mobigame’s David Papazian. “If you already asked why Soul Edge (the Namco game) was called Soul Blade and later Soulcalibur in the US, you have your answer.”

Langdell, CEO of EDGE Games and Lead Game Faculty at National University, contacted Mobigame and Apple in April asking that the game be pulled. Langdell claims his company owns the worldwide “trademark” EDGE. Despite this, the game remains up in other territories. “We have the trademark EDGE in Europe (where the game is still available),” Papazian tells FingerGaming. “And we are trying to register it in the US.”

Somewhat amazed by this, I went and checked Langdell's Wikipedia page, and discovered that, according to a massive section of the voluminous page, he's been asking for licenses for his apparent trademark 'Edge' in any manner of media or technology fields - generally gaming-related - for the past few years.

For example: "Langdell worked with Future Publishing to license the rights to the trademark EDGE to launch a new high-end games magazine, Edge, which was published by Future under license from EDGE starting in 1993. Langdell also took EDGE into comic book publishing and in 1995 worked with Gil Kane to license the trademark EDGE for a series of comic books published by Malibu Comics... Langdell also brokered a movie deal, too, licensing the trademark rights to 20th Century Fox for The Edge which starred Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin."

To be fair to Langdell, he certainly was publishing video games in the UK as 'The Edge' back in 1984 or so, as MobyGames shows, with Bo Jangeborg's Fairlight probably the most famous title produced by them.

But interestingly, the entirity of Tim Langdell's complex, detailed Wikipedia page on these licenses has been created by 'Cheridavis' - in fact the name of Tim's wife appears to be Cheri [Davis] Langdell, according to an online search. Even more interestingly, after Langdell's Wikipedia page entry was disputed, with user Frecklefoot commenting: "From your edit history, it's apparent you're either Tim Langdell or are somehow closely related to him", 'Cheridavis' comments: "I am writing a book on founding members of the game industry and noticed that Tim Langdell was one of the only people missing from Wikipedia. The article I created is based on my research, not on being Tim Langdell or knowing him personally."

Although user 'Cheridavis' is writing a book on the game industry, her Wikipedia contributions have never mentioned another person, but has, variously, changed the old AIAS entry to include Langdell as co-founder, and insert references to the word 'Edge' being licensed in graphics card articles, plus set up 'THE EDGE' as a page devoted to Langdell's trademark, and then complain when it gets removed.

It looks like trademark suits based around the word 'EDGE' and anything game-related are still occurring, too, too - here's one from March 2009 against Cybernet, who are making an obscure, long-dormant game called Edge of Extinction.

According to the suit, brought by Cybernet, Langdell started writing to them in January 2009, demanding that the 'Edge Of Extinction' trademark be assigned to him for free and that a license agreement be signed with Edge Games. When Cybernet refused, and asked for money for the domain transfer, Langdell said to "expect... [a] Federal Law Suit", so Cybernet sued Langdell and Edge. The case appears to be ongoing.

And there's some evidence, via a Virginia-based website's PDF, of a series of similar discussions with computer manufacturer Velocity for their 'Velocity Edge' gaming PCs. In this particular document, which is based around a suit by Velocity, the Court finds Edge Interactive liable for several falsehoods related to the suit, including untrue claims that Langdell had resigned from the company and could not receive the countersuit.

Overall, the Virginia District Court found a "deliberate strategy [on the part of Edge Interactive] to obfuscate and mislead this Court in order to delay the Court's determination of default." (However, the companies settled confidentially in December 2008 and Langdell now lists 'EDGE game PCs (made by Velocity Micro)' as an 'EDGE branded venture' that he has 'spawned'.) [NOTE: Mr. Langdell has asked us to point out that the two parties asked the court -- pursuant to the confidential settlement agreement that we referenced in the original article -- to vacate the above order re: sanctions, which it did without any publicly evident re-inquiry into the court's previous findings. We are happy to point this out as a courtesy to him, and to link to the document in question, which we obtained via the PACER court document service and referenced while writing the initial story.]

Overall, I think we can see the pattern here. Tim Langdell strongly believes that he owns the word 'Edge' across game-related (and in some cases entertainment and technology-related) media. He will aggressively dispute the legality of anyone launching a game using the name - even if Edge is only part of the name, and if the game has been dormant for many years, as in Edge Of Extinction. In fact, we're probably only seeing a fraction of the cases spill out into the public eye via lawsuits, since the vast majority will be settled privately - and many are settled confidentially after juddering into the courts for a while.

But now we're seeing great indie developers like Edge creator Mobigame hobbled because Langdell is aggressively enforcing his trademark based purely on a four letter name - rather than a particular style of game or character similarities, if that is even a more justifiable reason to do so. I think that's a major shame and, at least from my personal point of view, a morally repugnant thing to do.

This is even more unfortunate because it seems that Langdell was recently appointed to the IGDA Board Of Directors, a not-for-profit organization that is ostensibly set up to look after the little guy. How on Earth can he reconcile his position there with his role in getting Edge removed from the App Store? I've mailed him for comment -- and will update if he has particular things to say -- and I would hope members of the IGDA (both at lower and higher levels) will ask him similarly hard questions.


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Comments


Jeff Beaudoin
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Thanks for putting this back up and for stirring the hornet's nest in this particular region of the internet!



Keep up the good work Simon.

An Dang
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Courts need new precedent; US trademark laws needs to be updated. I wish some attorney would see this case through to the highest courts.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Paul Eres
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Langdell afaik has never won a trademark case on court, he just threatens folk. So I think it's wrong to say that this shows trademark laws need to be changed -- if they had found Langdell in the right I might agree, but they haven't. So why do they need to be changed? Also, even if a particular jury was stupid enough to find Langdell correct, that goes against the spirit of trademark law, which is to protect consumers from brand confusion and intentional copycat situations -- so that's like saying murder laws need to be changed because some people are found guilty for murders they didn't commit. Misuses of justice and bad juries and bad people using the law in ways it wasn't intended and usually not getting away with it don't really mean the law is bad.

Bob McIntyre
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It would be nice if there were a more serious penalty for frivolous lawsuits, though. But why would lawyers and legislators make that happen? After all, every time a case like this happens, money goes to lawyers.

Tom Buscaglia
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Simon...



Why didn't you contact any of the principles mentioned in the piece before publishing it?



As I understand it, neither Papazian or Langdell were contacted for comment, nor was the IGDA. I always thought that was standard practice among responsible journalists.



Tom B

Adam Saltsman
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Tom if you wish to educate yourself, there is a nice breakdown of the common elements of journalistic ethics on ye olde wikipedia:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism_ethics_and_standards#Comm
on_elements



Notable inclusions:



"Reporters are expected to be as accurate as possible given the time allotted to story preparation and the space available, and to seek reliable sources."



"Reporting the truth is never libel, which makes accuracy very important."



"Correctly spoken or written language" (you may wish to practice this on YOUR blog)



There is NOTHING codified in the common practices of ethical journalism that maintains that you must "get their side of the story" when you have a big pile of legit, verified facts (it turns out, everything in Simon's article was true, and even larger piles of dirt on Langdell's operation have since been revealed). This is the fallacy behind a lot of cable news presentation; it's not "fair and balanced" unless you feature interviews from BOTH people, right? WRONG. This is what research and ACTUAL JOURNALISM is for.



If it's alright, Tom, I have a question for you:



Why are you defending Tim Langdell?

Max Shea
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Langdell's site claims that he "spawned" many of the games for which he claims Edge Games/The Edge/Edge Interactive Media is directly responsible. Having worked in game development for many years, I'm somewhat perplexed that I've never once encountered any game spawners, though I've had a great deal of experience with many game developers.



IGDA is ostensibly an organization for Independent Game Developers. I believe it would be more appropriate for Langdell to resign IGDA and instead advise Independent Game Spawners. He appears to have ample experience in that profession, far more than his experience in actual game development. It's an incredible shame that his spawning talents have been so vastly underutilized thus far.

Kim Pallister
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Tom's got a point. I'm not sure there was a "breaking" story of such a rush nature that the facts couldn't be checked. Simon says he contacted him *after* publishing the article. Had he rebutted, and had he presented sufficient evidence to clear his name, well, the damage would have already been done, right?



Now, I'll admit it was a pretty damn tall pile of evidence, and one has to infer that Simon is in the right.



However, there's a big difference between contacting someone and saying "I'm about to write the following. Having anything to say that might change my mind?", versus "I just wrote and published the following. How about them apples?"



The internet makes it a bit easier to pull articles down or amend them, but what if this had been print, and there had been an error.



In any case it's tough to strike the balance between the level of investigation vs the volume of output expected in the internet age. I think Simon does a good job and handled this well, but I felt that Tom's questions were valid ones.

Tom Buscaglia
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One section of Simon's story seems to be tremendously misleading...he states :



*******

And there's some evidence, via a Virginia-based website's PDF, of a series of similar discussions with computer manufacturer Velocity for their 'Velocity Edge' gaming PCs. In this particular document, which is based around a suit by Velocity, the Court finds Edge Interactive liable for several falsehoods related to the suit, including untrue claims that Langdell had resigned from the company and could not receive the countersuit.



Overall, the Virginia District Court found a "deliberate strategy [on the part of Edge Interactive] to obfuscate and mislead this Court in order to delay the Court's determination of default." (However, the companies settled confidentially in December 2008 and Langdell now lists 'EDGE game PCs (made by Velocity Micro)' as an 'EDGE branded venture' that he has 'spawned'.)

******



In fact in December of 2008, the district judge in that case entered a Final Order vacating this entire prior order, vacating any sanctions against EDGE and pretty much ruling in favor of Edge on all issues. Odd that Simon knew of the settlement but did not take the time to red the final order (all federal court documents are freely available online). Does this additional fact change things?



In addition, my undersatdnig is that Langdell provided a copy of the Final Order to Simon after the intia article was pyblishd, but SImon has not reposted the same article without any mention of the Final Order and the possible error in his initial article. Does this comport with even the Wikipedia journalistic ethics?



I think that these are fair questions considering the fact the this article, much more than Langdell's own actions, have taken a huge toll on Lagngdell's professional reputation in the industry.



Tom B

Tom Buscaglia
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Sure wish I could edit my typoing....arrgghh!!!



Tom B

Adam Saltsman
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"Does this additional fact change things?"



No. Langdell still filed a trademark opposition against a *hardware* company who was using the same basic, 4-letter english word as his *software* company, more than a decade after they last published a computer game. He then went on to claim, in his IGDA bio, that he had "spawned" EDGE PCs. So, no, it doesn't change anything. Tim's opposition was unreasonable and his claim of ownership or entrepreneurial interest in this computer company is entirely false.



These are not fair questions in my mind, they are misleading and utterly beside the point.

Jim McGinley
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"I think that these are fair questions considering the fact the this article, much more than Langdell's own actions, have taken a huge toll on Lagngdell's professional reputation in the industry."



Wow. I was actually personally insulted by that. Have you read the comments from Tim and David on Stephen Jacob's Gamasutra blog article, or visited Tim's own website? I think Tim Langdell has done a great job of hurting his professional reputation, and Simon should not be allowed to take any credit.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Marcus Richert
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Adam, I find the amount of trust you put in Wikipedia is kind of ironic, considering Langdell's article (even if has been deleted by now). Contacting both Papazian and Langdell before publishing would have been normal procedure for any journalistically written piece and I can't see why Carless didn't. So he made a mistake in writing the article, but is this about Carless' article? Any journalistic faux pas are pretty irrelevant in face of Langdell's despicable behaviour that seems to have been his MO for the past 20 years.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Bobby A
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Max Shea: "IGDA is ostensibly an organization for Independent Game Developers."



A common misconception (acronym fail?). The "I" in IGDA stands for International.


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