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EA, DICE File Complaint To End Trademark Issues Over  Mirror's Edge

EA, DICE File Complaint To End Trademark Issues Over Mirror's Edge

September 29, 2009 | By Kris Graft

September 29, 2009 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

Electronic Arts and Swedish Mirror's Edge developer DICE filed a trademark dispute in September against Edge Games, the California corporation owned by the embattled trademark holder Tim Langdell.

The complaint, filed September 10 before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Appeal Board, is a consolidated petition to cancel the trademarks "The Edge," "Gamer's Edge," "Edge," and "Cutting Edge." The filing alleged that Langdell's company abandoned the trademarks, and that his company does not intend to resume use of the trademarks.

Langdell has been negotiating against EA over the high-profile title Mirror's Edge since September 2008, EA's complaint claimed. EA and DICE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EA, said they "reasonably believe that [Edge Games] will contest their rights to use the Mirror's Edge trademark." Edge Games' website claims that the company is currently working on a title called Mirrors.

In an email to Gamasutra, a statement from Edge Games said, "This petition by EA is clearly a desperate attempt by EA to see if they can win the right to use Mirror's Edge by forcibly removing Edge's legitimate rights to [the trademark] EDGE." The statement also said, "None of EA/DICE's claims in its petition have any basis in fact and their petition is thus certain to fail."

A June report quoted an EA Europe spokesperson confirming that Mirror's Edge 2 is currently in development.

EA and DICE claimed that the Edge trademarks are causing the two companies "actual harm." The complaint also alleged that Langdell's Edge Games obtained trademarks fraudulently, since -- among other factors -- the trademarks were not used in some of the cited commercial products for a number of years previous to the application.

One sample in the complaint includes a 1996 trademark application that included a box shot of a "The Edge"-branded Amiga computer game based on the cartoon character Snoopy. EA's complaint claims that the gaming platform "was discontinued years before the filing of the application."

Edge Games' email riposte said that it has "never committed fraud in applying" for the trademarks. The company's statement also argued that it actually has made use of its trademarks in commerce. "Clearly, Edge has not abandoned its trademark and that allegation is obviously destined to fail," the company said.

It was a previous incident, against developer Mobigame, that prompted the International Game Developers Association to call for a special meeting regarding Langdell, who was serving on the organization's board since March 2009. Langdell had a well-publicized dispute against independent French developer Mobigame, which published a game on Apple's digital App Store called Edge. Langdell claimed the game infringed on his trademark, and Mobigame pulled Edge from the App Store.

Amid a game development community uproar, he resigned from the IGDA's board of directors -- while denying any wrongdoing -- in late August, before the meeting convened.

Electronic Arts and at least one other big game company publicly support the petition to cancel Edge Games' trademarks. "We’ve reviewed EA’s petition and we think it makes a very compelling argument," said large independent developer Foundation 9 in a statement made alongside EA's. "We support EA’s petition and are hoping to see it move forward successfully."

EA's director of corporate communications Jeff Brown said in an email to Gamasutra, "While this seems like a small issue for EA, we think that filing the complaint is the right thing to do for the developer community."

"A lot of small developers who are faced with this situation settle claims because they don’t know how, or can’t afford to fight for their rights." He added, "We hope that as a result of this action, other developers will be less intimidated by unwarranted legal threats."

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