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Author Topic: Marvel sues NCSoft  (Read 3312 times)
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Glycerine
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« on: November 12, 2004, 05:02:01 PM »

This is for all of you City of Heroes players out there.  Here's the link:

http://rds.yahoo.com/S=53720272/K=marvel/v=2/SID=e/l=NSR/R=1/SIG=12g36pvpt/*-http%3A//www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2004-11-11-marvel-sues-over-avatars_x.htm

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Sepiche
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2004, 05:26:25 PM »

That's a tough question, but it doesn't seem right for them to sue NCSoft and Cryptic just because they gave their users tools that can be used to create heros that resemble Marvels.  I mean, they couldn't sue Crayola for making crayons that could be used to draw pictures of similar characters and win, right?

Hopefully this will get thrown out.  I think Marvel is overreacting and generally being douchebaggy.

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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2004, 05:40:00 PM »

This is going to be very difficult for Marvel to prove, since there are no specific instances of copyright infringement, and it would be next to impossible to win b ased on the fact that the character creation process allows for the construction of heroes resembling Marvel's IP. I would guess this is going to be a big fat summary judgement for NCSoft.

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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2004, 05:52:10 PM »

Well, they have taken steps to prevent this, though one might argue they haven't done enough. Designing heroes that look like copyrighted characters or naming them after such characters (this extends to supergroup names as well) are against the EULA and are dealt with. Moreover, it isn't like there's a "click me and make the hulk" button. Users have to go clearly out of their way to make a character that resembles any established character.

I think if they were going to have a preliminary session with a judge, I'd be inclined to have the judge sit down at the character creation and have them try and recreate a hero. There's a staggering number of options available.
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2004, 06:00:31 PM »

Freedom Force allowed the same thing.  Why weren't they sued?
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Daehawk
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2004, 06:03:33 PM »

Because no one played it?  Tongue  haha JK..did'nt like that game.
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2004, 06:49:35 PM »

Actually, a number of Freedom Force fansites were given Cease and Desist orders about a number of the fan-made Marvel-based characters that were created.
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Hamlet3145
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2004, 08:11:57 PM »

Mavel should sue crayola as well since if you buy some crayons you just might be able to draw The Hulk(TM).
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lokiju
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2004, 10:51:11 PM »

Marvel has become a most greedy, evil, and misguided company.  They are so freaking rich off of movies and merchandising.  I am very dissapointed in their judgement and thought processes behind this free marketing.  If a kid makes a Hulk look-a-like then that is a free posterboard for the Hulk running around for others to see.  How that hurts them I am not sure since Cryptic and NC Soft are not making money off Marvel characters, people will still play the game even if they can't make a certain character.  

Man, doesn't it seem wrong that Marvel doesn't want a kid to create and play with a superhero of their dreams?  All that does is keep the kid happy with their character, and will no doubt result in merchandise purchased down the line.
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Semaj
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2004, 06:12:20 AM »

Well, from what I gather, Marvel probably does want to step into the MMORPG front at some point.  And as such, allowing someone else to have people able to play Hulk/Wolverine/etc. kind of defeats the purpose in the long run.

I dont know if Marel really wants to win completely as much as set some groundwork.  I think they are going to argue things like Scrappers with claws are so akin to wolverine, it shouldnt be allowed.  If they work this right, they could corner the market on a lot of super powers or abilities of thier main people.  Its horribly wrong on so many levels in terms of what they are trying, but it's no different that EA Sports paying the NFL/NHL a ton of money to be exclusive to the NFL and NHL PA...  It makes things worse for the fans, but makes good buisiness sense.

I expect the fact the EULA has been enforcing the rules is going to really hurt MArvel's chances.  Its one thing if they never did anything about people who make extremely stupid choices, it's another when they can go: We've banned about 15k names and 5k different characters in 4 months...
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2004, 03:39:05 PM »

Yeah, I think there's a stronger case for Wolverine than for the Hulk. I read a comment in one of the articles about how you could make a character that looks just like the Hulk and has the same powers as the Hulk. What POWERS? You mean like being really strong and being able to jump real far? Wow, that's a real convincing argument, isn't it? I find claws/regen to be a more convincing case, personally. Heck, the most distinctive thing the hulk can do is change back and forth to Bruce Banner, which you can't do in CoH, currently (you can have different costumes, but you can't change the body type/height/bulk between them.

I think they have to be careful about building power sets around powers or devices dominantly associated with a single character. Shields seem like a bad idea for this reason, as would web-slinging. They plan to do a bow set and that seems a bit squirrly too.
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lokiju
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« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2004, 04:19:49 PM »

Holy cripes, come on now, given the history of comics and superheroes, marvel ripped off a lot of their material from early DC and others from what I can remember.  This IS a business whereas you take someone else's great selling idea and tweak it a bit to pretend you created it.  I am pretty sure that Marvel will lose this one, as long as NC and Cryptic are willing to go the distance.  Marvel is becoming like the evil Microsoft empire of comics IMHO, and needs to be knocked down a few pegs.
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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2004, 05:19:39 PM »

I didnt say they were RIGHT to try for those, but they damn sure are.

Of all the superpowers they want to lay claim as thier own,... I'd argue webslinging would be the only one in court that would hold easily.  And NCSoft sure as hell doesnt have that one.  Handclaws a la Wolverine is a iffy one, because I would argue I got the idea from Cyberpunk/Shadowrun... smile
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lokiju
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« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2004, 05:29:06 PM »

Plus, is there REALLY a law stating that a certain power is copyrighted for a particular hero?  So if Cryptic had webslingers, then that is not legal?  I think the fact that Cryptic has been so vigilant in their quest to stop copyrighted characters that the courts will see it as a game with the ability to create whatever you want, but each person has a responisbility to stay lawful.  If I make a blatant Hulk character, then I should be held responsible and not the game company since it's in the EULA...though we have always known that EULA's are hard to back in court.
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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2004, 06:32:55 PM »

Quote from: "lokiju"
Plus, is there REALLY a law stating that a certain power is copyrighted for a particular hero?  So if Cryptic had webslingers, then that is not legal?  I think the fact that Cryptic has been so vigilant in their quest to stop copyrighted characters that the courts will see it as a game with the ability to create whatever you want, but each person has a responisbility to stay lawful.  If I make a blatant Hulk character, then I should be held responsible and not the game company since it's in the EULA...though we have always known that EULA's are hard to back in court.


Nononono. You can't copyright words in common usage, and the same thing goes for images, or, for lack of a better word, "parts of images". So, Marvel is a walking joke if they think they can regulate specific instances of "claws", storm powers, or bits and pieces of individual costumes-however, they can go after characters that look nearly identical to their IP-unfortunately for them in this case, from what I understand NCSoft has been Nazish in their crackdown on such toons, thus alleviating most of their potential complaints.

The simple fact that you are able to create such a look with their engine is simply insufficient for copyright violation. There is an infinite number of things creatable with any tool-give me enough time and I can make myself look like Wolverine.
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2004, 10:23:00 PM »

I'm no IP attorney, but the opposite side of this is that Marvel has an obligation to vigorously defend its IP assets. Again, I think it's kind of hard to make an argument for the Hulk, because no one single aspect of the character, in isolaton, is that distinctive. If CoH let you have a power ring that emitted a green beam, they'd never get away with it  IMO because it would be obvious that the power set was created to emulate a particular character. Are there other characters with pop out claws in comics? The more there are, the less unique they are to wolverine they are, and the weaker I think the argument gets, but I base that on thinking that criticizing the ability to make a character that kind of looks like a known hero won't hold up.

Shrug...but that's all just conjecture based on common sense, and sometimes the law and common sense don't see eye to eye all that well.

What is at issue here (I think) is not specific violations of trademarks by individuals playing the game (though no doubt they will be cited) but the presumption that the game gives players the ability to make clones of their favorite heroes, thereby allegedly weakening the demand for licensed products that let you do that.
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« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2004, 04:58:53 PM »

Quote from: "Misguided"
I'm no IP attorney, but the opposite side of this is that Marvel has an obligation to vigorously defend its IP assets. Again, I think it's kind of hard to make an argument for the Hulk, because no one single aspect of the character, in isolaton, is that distinctive. If CoH let you have a power ring that emitted a green beam, they'd never get away with it  IMO because it would be obvious that the power set was created to emulate a particular character. Are there other characters with pop out claws in comics? The more there are, the less unique they are to wolverine they are, and the weaker I think the argument gets, but I base that on thinking that criticizing the ability to make a character that kind of looks like a known hero won't hold up.


Actually, I think you'd be in okay shape if you just allowed the player to pick the color of the beam.  The fact is that this is easy to put ina broader context.  Guns by themselves don't kill people, so stores are allowed to sell them.  If someone goes out and shoots someone with one, then you have to pursue them for wrongful use.  The gun and the possession of it is not illegal though.  Same way with allowing people to create any superhero they want and cracking down on the "copiers".
Personally I think that the Comic companies blew it on this with COH.   Fast way to recover now - Ask COH to set up a MARVEL server, then create GM accounts for the superheroes and allow people to fight in special events next to their favorite superheroes or at least see them moving around.  Would people pay an extra $20 a month to get missions from Spiderman or Wolverine instead of the Statesman?  I don't know, but I sure would like to see! smile
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