I am not 100% sure how that happened, though I take it as a good sign that someone (either at Amazon or in a legal meeting) had some sense and closed down Games Workshop’s attempt to claim the term “Space Marine” as their exclusive intellectual property in the eBook market.
#1 – My First, Slightly Confused Post
I skimmed over the issue a few months back, writing a somewhat incorrect (or ill-informed) blog post on it. It even had a title similar to the one I am giving this article (though I hope it is more accurate this time).
What happened? A recent post by M.C.A. Hogarth summarizes the initial story.
In mid-December, Games Workshop told Amazon that I’d infringed on the trademark they’ve claimed for the term “space marine” by titling my original fiction novel Spots the Space Marine. In response, Amazon blocked the e-book from sale. Since then, I’ve been in discussion with Games Workshop, and following their responses, with several lawyers.
Games Workshop, it appears, was (and is?) trying to claim the term “Space Marine” as their intellectual property, though the term goes back as far as the 1930s in classic sci-fi literature.
#2 – Are eBooks different from other books?
Noting the above, and having a look over on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, I was surprised to find the book still available for sale as a paperback. Of course, my mistake was thinking that Games Workshop was trying to claim “Space Marines” for themselves universally.
That was not the case.
Games Workshop may have known (or been told by their legal department) that claiming “Space Marines” as exclusively their own for literature in general was futile. Instead, it appears that Games Workshop was trying to claim a “first-mover” advantage in the sub-section of “eBooks” (rather than all books), claiming they had coined the term here (as they arguably did in wargaming miniatures).
Of course, the whole thing rides on the claim that eBooks are a somehow an entirely different category of products, rather than simply a different medium (0110001010 instead of dead trees) for the old product (sci-fi stories).
#3 – Spots Back as eBook?
So today I see some twitter activity
Hmm, Spot the Space Marine is back up on Amazon and I am unblocked off GWsTwitter Account. I think the Imperium just got a spanking.
— John Lambshead (@johnlambshead) February 8, 2013
I take that as a good sign that somewhere, somebody is making the right choices.
At least I hope so.
If you know more, let me know!