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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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