Furthermore, in light of my ownership of the word “dumb” I also claim a licensing fee equal to 10% of gross earnings on all revenue generated by any dumb people. So all you dumb asses out there blowing your pay checks on lottery tickets and cheap beer better start sending me my money. Oh, and don’t forget if you do actually win that lottery, I get 10% of that too.
OK, so obviously I can’t do that. But is that really any stupider than what this guy tried to do? Tim Langdell apparently created a game design studio in the dark ages of computing (sometime in the 1980s) and called it EDGE Games. It’s unclear how many games his studio actually produced, but what is clear is that the main business objective of Tim Langdell since 1994 or so has been suing the crap out of anybody who uses the word “Edge” in any gaming-related way.
Now, trademark law isn’t exactly my speciality, but the gist of things is that you create a trademark by using it in relation to your business or product, and nobody else is allowed to use it in their business to promote similar products. You must continue to use your trademark or else the protection of it can be revoked. And, perhaps most importantly in this case, you can’t lie about when you started using it.
In 1994 Mr. Langdell got all huffy when EDGE magazine tried to trademark its name. Langdell piped up to say that he owned that trademark and they couldn’t have it. But he didn’t stop there. He actually went way overboard and claimed to have had a hand in the creation of the magazine, and changed the logo for his Edge Games to one that looked a heck of a lot like the EDGE magazine logo. Of course, he claimed that this was in fact the logo he’d been using since 1991, and screw you if you remembered seeing a different one! The two entered into a licensing agreement, and Mr Langdell apparently decided it was more lucrative to sue people rather than make computer games.
In 2010 EA finally got pissed enough about having to constantly avoid the word “Edge” in anything they did because of this trademark troll to spend the money to take him to court. They were able to show that many of Edge Games’ trademark filings were fraudulent (claiming games they produced in the 80s for platforms that no longer exist were actually current releases!) and that Edge Games had not in fact produced an actual game since 1990. As a result, Edge Games lost their US trademarks.
Recently, EDGE magazine decided they’d had enough too, and took Langdell and Edge Games to court. As part of the process, Edge Games were asked to produce the original copy of the logo they claimed dated from 1991 (the one that looked like the logo for EDGE magazine.) They claimed it was on an ancient floppy that couldn’t possibly be brought to court. When that didn’t work, they finally produced the file–only to have it shown that it had been created in Windows 95, so it couldn’t possibly date from 1991. The whole story is told here in rather amusing detail.
Has the troll finally been slain? It may be too early to say for sure, but the answer would appear to be yes.