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View Full Version : Can GW really 'Own' the Twin-tailed Comet?



shotguncoffee
06-04-2013, 22:53
If you look in this survey of classical alchemical symbols, you will find the twin tailed comet in the second row to the right:

http://fontmeme.com/images/Alchemical-Symbols-550x291.jpg

So can GW really claim the symbol, if it is really just an alchemical symbol from medieval times? I mean, can I suddenly claim the cross, then?

wyvirn
06-04-2013, 23:12
:wtf: Did I miss something here? Are GW sending out C&D letters en masse or are you just wondering?

shotguncoffee
06-04-2013, 23:32
No, they write in certain places (in small print) that they own the twin tailed comet.

Scammel
06-04-2013, 23:36
They might be able to stake a claim to their own stylised version on banners and the likes. Take the CHS case - the judge has stated that whilst they probably can't have claims to 'rounded shoulder pads', 'big shoulder pads' or 'shoulder pads with chevrons', the end result that is all of them put together is something that can be protected. The twin-tailed comet in and of itself isn't enough, a 'banner with a stylised twin-tailed comet' might be.

shotguncoffee
07-04-2013, 00:13
thank you for a good comment, and one that also picks up on the CHS thread at that. (i want to read that thread but it's just so hard to get an overview.)


The twin-tailed comet in and of itself isn't enough, a 'banner with a stylised twin-tailed comet' might be.

Oh my god. I am actually in favor of IP laws but this just sounds like a nightmare. It's essentially up to interpretation , then. Can I have a red-robed priest with a Maltese Cross, a hammer and an iron circlet on his head? Or is that GW property as well? There is no reasonable way to decide, so essentially, common citizens will have to take their chances and hope they don't lose everything they own.

This is preposterous.

Don't get me wrong; you shouldn't be able to infringe on GW-specific IP but that IP should be traceable to specific words or logos or completely non-ambiguous visuals.
By the same token, there's a reason that there's hardly no IP in the fashion industry: It would just be a nightmare to uphold it.

But again, good comment, Scammel.

Trasvi
07-04-2013, 03:05
Oh my god. I am actually in favor of IP laws but this just sounds like a nightmare. It's essentially up to interpretation , then. Can I have a red-robed priest with a Maltese Cross, a hammer and an iron circlet on his head? Or is that GW property as well? There is no reasonable way to decide, so essentially, common citizens will have to take their chances and hope they don't lose everything they own.

This is preposterous.

Don't get me wrong; you shouldn't be able to infringe on GW-specific IP but that IP should be traceable to specific words or logos or completely non-ambiguous visuals.
By the same token, there's a reason that there's hardly no IP in the fashion industry: It would just be a nightmare to uphold it.

But again, good comment, Scammel.

That's how IP works.
Here are a bunch of eagle logos (https://www.google.com.au/search?q=eagle+logo&aq=f&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=x99gUb2ZD8OpiAeu9oDIDA&biw=1233&bih=917&sei=yt9gUYmzHqaciAe2koCABA).
None of these companies 'owns' eagle logos. They all own their specific eagle logo. They can all be eagles whilst still being sufficiently unique from each other and creative in their expression to qualify for trademark and/or copyright protection.
Similarly with twin-tailed comets. GW doesn't own the concept of twin tailed comets, but their (probably) own the copyright on their artwork of twin-tailed comets.

Scaryscarymushroom
07-04-2013, 03:13
That's how IP works.
Here are a bunch of eagle logos (https://www.google.com.au/search?q=eagle+logo&aq=f&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=x99gUb2ZD8OpiAeu9oDIDA&biw=1233&bih=917&sei=yt9gUYmzHqaciAe2koCABA).
None of these companies 'owns' eagle logos. They all own their specific eagle logo. They can all be eagles whilst still being sufficiently unique from each other and creative in their expression to qualify for trademark and/or copyright protection.
Similarly with twin-tailed comets. GW doesn't own the concept of twin tailed comets, but their (probably) own the copyright on their artwork of twin-tailed comets.

So when is a work sufficiently original that its creator can't be held liable for creating a 'derivative' work?

Hendarion
07-04-2013, 07:17
That question is exactly where all the problems come from. It is up to trial.

shotguncoffee
07-04-2013, 08:56
of course there should be IP, but it's kind of ridiculous that it's a kind of lottery (up to interpretation).
people should be able to know when they are breaking the law.

Hengist
07-04-2013, 09:43
The "twin-tailed comet device" is at least GW's creation; they also claim ownership of "the Chaos device", despite an eight-pointed star having been used as the symbol of Chaos by Michael Moorcock (and even pictured on his book covers) back in the 1960s - not to mention the same design having appeared on coats of arms dating back centuries. (Moorcock himself has generously said that he considers the eight-pointed star of Chaos public domain.)

GW's small print also asserts ownership of (in the miniatures domain) the terms "Dreadnought" and "Organ Gun", despite both being historical terms; I very much doubt they would enjoy any success asserting a claim against makers of model early 20th century warships (http://www.wonderlandmodels.com/products/zvezda-1350-hms-dreadnought-wwi-battleship-model-k/) or medieval artillery (http://www.activescalemodels.co.uk/zvezda-8027-medieval-field-powder-artillery-172-scale--10989-p.asp).

As to whether the combination of generic shapes and designs that comprise a Space Marine shoulder pad are sufficiently distinct to be copyrightable... it remains to be seen. The judge in the Chapterhouse case seems content for GW to go to trial on the basis of that claim; whether or not that assertion can be proven before a jury remains to be seen. As for jury trial being a lottery... it's still the least bad system.

shotguncoffee
07-04-2013, 10:45
The "twin-tailed comet device" is at least GW's creation

As I showed in the OP, it's an alchemical symbol, dating back centuries.

Hengist
07-04-2013, 11:27
Sorry, it's early (and I have a hangover).

What I meant to say through my wine-scented fog was that GW at least have made their (presumably) unique interpretation of the twin-tailed comet symbol, presumably protectable as a particular image in its own right. You're entirely right that their claim to own the 'twin-tailed comet' per se is ludicrous - particularly given that it's a real-world astronomical phenomenon (http://astronomyonline.org/solarsystem/Images/Astroid_Comet/Comet_Parts.jpg).

The point I was flailing toward making was to add that ownership of the Chaos Star is an even dafter claim - GW's Chaos Star looks exactly like that drawn by Jim Cawthorn to Moorcock's description for an Elric cover decades before GW existed. (Sadly I can't find an image...)

I'd take a fair bet that Bryan Ansell (a big Moorcock fan) was well aware that he was 'borrowing' the icon, but that subsequent GW writers less well-versed in the fantasy genre's classics have presumed that the symbol was their own creation. (Or, of course, that they're just trying it on...)

shotguncoffee
07-04-2013, 13:52
Ok, cool, no problem :)

I think also that the ancient sumerians had an eight pointed star.

EDIT: So, given the "rules" above, how can Avatars of War exist? Isn't it just WHFB with different names? Berserker Dwarves with Orange Hair should fill the criteria that were listed above.

shelfunit.
07-04-2013, 14:05
EDIT: So, given the "rules" above, how can Avatars of War exist? Isn't it just WHFB with different names? Berserker Dwarves with Orange Hair should fill the criteria that were listed above.

The models that are sold however are grey resin/metal, as are the majority of models sold by all manufacturers.

shotguncoffee
07-04-2013, 14:56
when i go to their website, they don't seem so grey to me

shelfunit.
07-04-2013, 15:10
when i go to their website, they don't seem so grey to me

But when you buy them you recieve grey ones - what colour they are painted is up to you.

EDIT: I can't see anything to that effect on the page though, just that they come in multiple parts.

shotguncoffee
07-04-2013, 15:26
lol that's slippery ground. i promote my model as orange, but the actual models isn't orange and therefore i am not infringing on your visual trademarks
http://www.beastsofwar.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Avatars-of-War-Painted-Berserker.jpg
-tatoos (that are blue)
-runic axes
-punk hairdo (that is orange)


note: i think avatars of war is fine. i'm just saying that, based on the rules that were outlined above, then AoW are over the line

Scaryscarymushroom
07-04-2013, 15:29
Ok, cool, no problem :)

I think also that the ancient sumerians had an eight pointed star.

EDIT: So, given the "rules" above, how can Avatars of War exist? Isn't it just WHFB with different names? Berserker Dwarves with Orange Hair should fill the criteria that were listed above.

You might also consider that AoW has their own fluff, their own fantasy world, their own skirmish game, their own artwork, that they're working on a wargame, and that it's all quite well developed.

I'll admit, I know more about AoW fluff than I know about WHFB.

While it might appear to be derived from the same concepts, GW would have a hard time proving that AoW's work wasn't original.

besides, Felix (AoW's owner) worked as a sculptor for GW for a while.

But I get your point, that IP seems overreaching in scope. Perhaps these sorts of laws were needed to protect printing presses in the 1800s, but today they seem wrought with complications.

Daniel36
07-04-2013, 15:45
Their version of the twin tailed comet is hardly the same as the alchemical symbol, just as much as McDonald's symbol isn't quite the same as a regular M.
So yes, they can own their depiction of the twin tailed comet.

shotguncoffee
07-04-2013, 15:45
so if I make my own fantasy world and skirmish game, then I'm home free? i think that's dodgy argumentation, in so far as the other poster's "rules" for IP above are correct.
i don't know that they are. but IF they are, then this is dogy argumentation

shelfunit.
07-04-2013, 15:46
lol that's slippery ground. i promote my model as orange, but the actual models isn't orange and therefore i am not infringing on your visual trademarks
http://www.beastsofwar.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Avatars-of-War-Painted-Berserker.jpg
-tatoos (that are blue)
-runic axes
-punk hairdo (that is orange)


note: i think avatars of war is fine. i'm just saying that, based on the rules that were outlined above, then AoW are over the line

The thing is though - GW don't sell slayers with orange hair either, at least not in miniature form - you just get the bare metals from them as well.

Scaryscarymushroom
07-04-2013, 16:15
so if I make my own fantasy world and skirmish game, then I'm home free? i think that's dodgy argumentation, in so far as the other poster's "rules" for IP above are correct.
i don't know that they are. but IF they are, then this is dogy argumentation

It's not a case of black and white. There isn't really a line: more like an unmarked minefield, where you have no idea where the border is, but if you go too far, you're bound to get iinto trouble.

Having your own game and artwork is evidence helping your case, but like most things in law, evidence is almost never proof.

GW could probably sue AoW, and they ***might*** be able to stop them from selling certain models (which would make me angry), but it would be hard for GW to form a persuasive argument.

eron12
07-04-2013, 16:56
Ok, cool, no problem :)

I think also that the ancient sumerians had an eight pointed star.

EDIT: So, given the "rules" above, how can Avatars of War exist? Isn't it just WHFB with different names? Berserker Dwarves with Orange Hair should fill the criteria that were listed above.

Things may have changed but I'm pretty sure the box art on the beserkers I ordered has them with brown hair, not orange.

Hengist
07-04-2013, 18:10
I think also that the ancient sumerians had an eight pointed star.

Oh, I'm not suggesting that anybody living could claim the anything so basic as an eight-pointed star itself as their creation, merely that the eight-pointed star: symbol of Chaos is pretty undeniably Moorcock's, and that GW's claim of ownership would not stand up in court, were they to attempt to enforce it. (Even were their claim restricted to tabletop games and miniatures they would likely be foiled, since the device appeared on TSR and Chaosium products prior to GW's own use and subsequent registration of it.)


They might be able to stake a claim to their own stylised version on banners and the likes. Take the CHS case - the judge has stated that whilst they probably can't have claims to 'rounded shoulder pads', 'big shoulder pads' or 'shoulder pads with chevrons', the end result that is all of them put together is something that can be protected. The twin-tailed comet in and of itself isn't enough, a 'banner with a stylised twin-tailed comet' might be.

It should be emphasised that - unless I have missed something significant - the ruling has been that 'things the size and shape of a GW model Space Marine shoulderpad, decorated with iconography also used by GW' might be protectable, not that they necessarily are.

weeble1000
07-04-2013, 18:54
Sorry, it's early (and I have a hangover).

What I meant to say through my wine-scented fog was that GW at least have made their (presumably) unique interpretation of the twin-tailed comet symbol, presumably protectable as a particular image in its own right. You're entirely right that their claim to own the 'twin-tailed comet' per se is ludicrous - particularly given that it's a real-world astronomical phenomenon (http://astronomyonline.org/solarsystem/Images/Astroid_Comet/Comet_Parts.jpg).

The point I was flailing toward making was to add that ownership of the Chaos Star is an even dafter claim - GW's Chaos Star looks exactly like that drawn by Jim Cawthorn to Moorcock's description for an Elric cover decades before GW existed. (Sadly I can't find an image...)

I'd take a fair bet that Bryan Ansell (a big Moorcock fan) was well aware that he was 'borrowing' the icon, but that subsequent GW writers less well-versed in the fantasy genre's classics have presumed that the symbol was their own creation. (Or, of course, that they're just trying it on...)

Keep in mind that the Court in that case disagreed with a finding by the US Copyright Office who refused to register the Assault Shoulder Pad because the pad itself was not subject to copyright protection for a sculptural work of art.

weeble1000
07-04-2013, 19:09
You might also consider that AoW has their own fluff, their own fantasy world, their own skirmish game, their own artwork, that they're working on a wargame, and that it's all quite well developed.

I'll admit, I know more about AoW fluff than I know about WHFB.

While it might appear to be derived from the same concepts, GW would have a hard time proving that AoW's work wasn't original.

besides, Felix (AoW's owner) worked as a sculptor for GW for a while.

But I get your point, that IP seems overreaching in scope. Perhaps these sorts of laws were needed to protect printing presses in the 1800s, but today they seem wrought with complications.

None of that is relevant when it comes to copyright law. Multiple works of art are separate works, all protected in severality from the moment that they are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Works of art do not combine to create aggregate copyrights. This is, for example, why you can't really protect an artstic "style."

In terms of a claim of copyright infringement, an infringement analysis requires the comparison of the TWO works (the asserted work and the alleged copy) "side by side" with an understanding of what constitutes protected expression in the asserted work. Remember, although a work only needs to be "minimally creative" in order to be original and therefore subject to copyright protectin, only that which is ORIGINAL in the work is protected expression. It is only wrong to copy PROTECTED expression. Two works of art can be very similar indeed, so long as the similarities are due to elements which are not protected expression.

In fact, two works of art can even be identical in every sing,e detail, so long as they were created independent,y, because one cannot possibly copy something without having access to the thing that is being copied. Always keep in mind that COPYright provides an author the right to prevent others from creating, displaying, etc. COPIES of his or her work of art, hence copy right.

Almost Beyoncé
08-04-2013, 02:56
They might be able to stake a claim to their own stylised version on banners and the likes. Take the CHS case - the judge has stated that whilst they probably can't have claims to 'rounded shoulder pads', 'big shoulder pads' or 'shoulder pads with chevrons', the end result that is all of them put together is something that can be protected. The twin-tailed comet in and of itself isn't enough, a 'banner with a stylised twin-tailed comet' might be.

If they did have claims to big shoulder pads, Hilary Devey would not be a happy bunny,

TheFang
08-04-2013, 18:46
Oh, I'm not suggesting that anybody living could claim the anything so basic as an eight-pointed star itself as their creation, merely that the eight-pointed star: symbol of Chaos is pretty undeniably Moorcock's, and that GW's claim of ownership would not stand up in court, were they to attempt to enforce it.
It might well stand as Moorcock failed to enforce his use of it. GW has now been using it for Chaos for thirty years or so. No-one argues that the modern association with Chaos comes from Moorcock but his failure to take steps to protect it has left him in the same position as GW over things like Kaleb Daark.

shotguncoffee
08-04-2013, 23:15
failure to take steps to protect it

i know this means that you can lose the rights to creation you made
but does it also mean that some one else can claim sole rights to that same creation?
that would be unreasonable
if the star was on his covers and he lost the rights, it should be in the public domain

Trasvi
08-04-2013, 23:54
i know this means that you can lose the rights to creation you made
but does it also mean that some one else can claim sole rights to that same creation?
that would be unreasonable
if the star was on his covers and he lost the rights, it should be in the public domain

AFAIK, trademarks can be lost if you don't enforce them, but copyrights don't get 'lost'. Here (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/kookaburra-copycat-claim/story-e6frf7jo-1111117726593) is a copyright claim in Australia that was successfully brought over 30 years after being the initial infringement and nearly 80 years after the publication of the infringed work.

Hengist
09-04-2013, 12:19
It might well stand as Moorcock failed to enforce his use of it. GW has now been using it for Chaos for thirty years or so. No-one argues that the modern association with Chaos comes from Moorcock but his failure to take steps to protect it has left him in the same position as GW over things like Kaleb Daark.

Moorcock would be unlikely to win a case asserting his rights - but then he would be unlikely to bring one, having stated that he considers the symbol public domain. Any attempt made by GW to prosecute others for using said "chaos device" would founder thanks to the "unclean hands" affirmative defence - i.e. since it's bloody obvious GW pinched it from Moorcock to use in their Moorcock-esque fantasy setting earlier editions of which began with a dedication to Moorcock, a judge would almost certainly conclude they had no grounds on which to seek redress from others for using it, paper copyright claim or no.

Kaleb Daark is a odd case. The problem seems to have been that Wagner and Grant presumed (as was standard in comic book writing) that though GW would own the right to print the finished Kaleb Daark strip itself, they, its creators, would own the IP they created within it - i.e. Kaleb and Malal - and would thus be entitled to royalty payments should they be reused elsewhere. GW, accustomed to treating their employees' (or contractors' - see below) work as being of corporate authorship - and thus exempt form that - it seems, failed to have them sign copyright transfers in their contracts. Hence Malal's absence from the "finalised" Warhammer cosmology of Slaves to Darkness and subsequent GW releases (save in the carefully-coded continuity nod of Malice).

As has emerged from the Chapterhouse case, this was not in fact the only instance of this oversight. GW in its early days - most likely for tax purposes - treated many of those working full-time for them as self-employed (in which signing-over of IP rights requires a contractual copyright transfer) rather than as employees (in which case IP rights - except the 'moral right' to receive individual credit - are customarily transferred). As such, it transpires that swathes of artwork (and probably also text) commissioned by or sold to GW in fact still belong to their creators, who could cheerfully sell copies of them.

Edit: Just for fun, I'll illustrate the above with a geek culture example. Writer Terry Nation created the Daleks as part of a story written by him for the BBC as a freelance writer. When, around Xmas 1963 they seized the imaginations of Britain's children and BBC Enterprises (the arm of the corporation dedicated to making money from television, rather than the other way around) sought to capitalise on that, they were obliged to agree with Nation a royalty on Dalek toys, novelty records, ice lollies etc., and on their reuse in subsequent stories. (Indeed Nation was even able to resell his scripts to filmmakers - who then had to pay the BBC royalties for use of the Doctor, Tardis, etc. - and to comic book publishers.)

The Dalek props were designed and realised by a chap called Raymond Cusick, who might reasonably have asserted that they were as much the product of his work as Nation's, and expected similar treatment. Cusick, however, was a salaried BBC employee, making his efforts work for hire, and as such entitled to no such reimbursement.

Konovalev
17-04-2013, 14:36
You think this is bad? Have you heard of the companies that have patents on humen gene sequences? The world of Law and patents is remarkably illdefined and shady.

weeble1000
17-04-2013, 17:43
You think this is bad? Have you heard of the companies that have patents on humen gene sequences? The world of Law and patents is remarkably illdefined and shady.

Clearly, genes exist in nature and are therefore discoveries rather than inventions. The tools used to mess with them could probably be inventions. The problem with the gene thing is that genetic research, like many other types of high tech research, requires a significant amount of investment. There is an argument that patents encourage innovation by providing a monetary incentive for inventors to publicly disclose how to make and use their inventions. Effective R&D also relies a great deal on the publicizing and sharing of information. Why do you think huge companies like Intel spend millions funding research grants?

Absent patent protection, the argument goes, companies will have little reason to engage in this highly important research, for how would they otherwise recoup that expense and make a profit? That's an okay argument in theory, but issuing patents for discoveries is in my opinion a far greater perversion of the patent system than the possibility that a company will not invest in a certain vein of R&D.

Someone will always engage in the research, and this is an avenue in which the Federal Government could have a role. In fact, one might argue that this sort of thing would absolutely be the proper role of the Federal Government: to do that which we, as individuals, cannot accomplish alone, and to do that which the free market cannot or will not do effectively.

The problem is that the Supreme Court is rolling around the issue with the public good ostensibly in mind, and the possibility of groundbreaking new lifesaving/improving genetic research looks all well and good in the short term whereas the disturbing implications of legalizing ownership of an individual's own natural corpus does not look so scary in the short term.

If an individual possess anything, it is his or her own life at the very least. As citizens of a sovereign nation, we have essentially given up control over even our very lives to the coercive authority of the government, but only insofar as the laws, and the enforcement thereof, we have agreed upon. While the government may be able to dispossess me of my life should I commit a capital offense, the government has no right, or should have no right, to dispossess me of God-given ownership of my body. Implicitly, patents on genes, taken to a logical conclusion could very well amount to human bondage on a genetic level.

Scaryscarymushroom
17-04-2013, 21:40
I like your posts Weeble1000.

Also, Myriad Genetics (patented a portion of the human genome) operates primarily on my University campus. Not that it matters to anyone, it's just kinda spooky. Like having an ex-convict living in your apartment building or something. :shifty: