Final chapter in legal war with EA, Future Publishing, Mobigame and the industry at large
Tim Langdell has until Friday October 15th to inform all licencees of his ‘edge’ trademark that he no longer has legal ownership of the name.
A United States district judge made the order at the very end of what has been the most damaging and humiliating week in Langdell’s controversial career.
In what resembled a swift mafia-like ‘clean-up’ job, District Judge William Alsup told the United States Patent and Trademark Office to cancel all of Langdell’s ‘edge’ trademarks, and told Langdell himself to inform his licencees – those who already fell victim to his pugnacious ‘trademark trolling’ – that his power has been dissolved.
It leaves Langdell bereft of a reliable source of income, stung by legal costs, and in danger of criminal convictions.
Court documents obtained by Develop show that Langdell “shall notify all persons and entities with whom a licensing agreement has been obtained involving the [edge] trademarks that the marks have been cancelled.”
It added that Langdell must “provide these persons and entities with a copy of the order denying [Langdell’s] motion for a preliminary injunction.”
The verdict marks the beginning of the end of Langdell’s legal assaults on various game companies using the word in ‘edge’ their products – from Edge Magazine, to iPhone app Edge, to a manufacturer of flash memory cards.
The breakthrough came as Langdell imaginatively declared EA was infringing on his trademark with its FPS franchise, Mirror’s Edge.
The United States Court for the Northern district of California this week ruled in favour of EA, declarig that the publisher was not infringing on copyright.
Moreover, Judge Alsup said Langdell’s company Edge Games has no significant credibility to its claim that it deserves copyright protection.
He also said Langdell’s aim to protect the ‘edge’ trademark “is not in the public interest”.
“There is scant evidence that Edge Games has invested any amount of funds into the development of recent products and services bearing the asserted marks,” Judge Alsup ruled.
In a statement sent to Develop, EA said it was “pleased that we’ve reached a settlement and can put this behind us. This settlement goes a long way in protecting the rights of independent developers.”
Develop can reveal that Langdell is still in legal dispute with Future Publishing over the publisher’s games magazine and website, Edge. The Edge Online website is currently hosted at next-gen.biz, presumably as a precautionary measure against Langdell, while the case continues.
Future Publishing has confirmed to Develop the legal dispute, but has yet to issue a statement after several requests.
Nevertheless, EA has set an iron-cast legal precedent that will now make Langdell’s convincing of the courts a distant hope.
The devastating manner in which Langdell lost a legal fight with EA could even result in ‘potentially serious consequences’ for the Edge Games owner, a game industry lawyer told Develop this week.
Jas Purewal, lawyer and author of Gamer/Law, said Langdell’s failure to earn a preliminary injunction against Electronic Arts was so comprehensive that the courts may turn their attention onto him.
“The judge has made a pretty damning verdict on Tim Langdell’s argument,” Purewal said.
“EA put in a lot of evidence attacking each one of Langdell’s arguments, and in pretty forthright language the judge agreed to virtually all of them.
“There’s language that EA uses – and the judge agrees with – that Langdell’s threats were ‘soaked in fraud’. It’s pretty hard-hitting stuff.”
Langdell now has to “certify to the Court in a sworn declaration by noon on Friday, October 15 that notice [of the trademark cancellation] has been provided to all such licensees,” Judge Alsup ruled.
EA has since dropped claims for any relief beyond the trademark cancellations. Langdell does not have to pay EA's legal expenses, and still has few, if unlikely, options for appeal.