Saturday, October 18, 2014
When a Chapter's House Closes
The story of Chaptehouse and GW continues. If you haven't heard, Chapterhouse's assets have been frozen due to a court order. This is a continuation of them and GWs long fight and looks to be ending up going against Chapterhouse. Now I'm sure there are a lot of opinions on this, but lets be clear, a court made this decision against them, and not for bad reasons.
GW may be an outright dick when it comes to their legal actions, but in some ways for good reasons. How many knock off companies exist to sell "sci fi" miniatures with striking similarities to 40k. And many of these companies don't have a game, or have recently put one out after selling models for a while. Mantic has been around and has certainly some models that work for 40k, they have been recently getting into actual games now, but till recently little more than a free to download ruleset, with minimal support. They were at least smart enough to not directly infringe.
Chapter house took a risk, plain and simple. They made money off of GWs IP, and made no secret about it. Its a dangerous risk to take, and the dice are not rolling well for them. Personally I have little sympathy. They chose to directly make products for 40k, not for "sci fi" miniatures, 40k. There is a reason that trademarks and copyright laws exist, and part of it is for this reason. They violated them, maybe not with everything they did, but they certainly did violate them. And its not going well.
I don't wish ill will on them, but when you stake your lively hood on someone else's IP, thats a hard gamble to take. Should they have been less blatant, absolutely. Other companies have been very successful in doing so, with some branching out on their own now and brining their own games to the table. Chapterhouse tried to answer a need for bits for models that was hard to come by or simply didn't exist in the GW range. A good idea, but executed poorly. Using the IP of 40k was dangerous, and its proving that case.
Now this isn't over, legal warfare is a long one. They will appeal and likely get their accounts unfrozen. But how much damage has been done is unclear, and even if they will be allowed to sell a good portion of their products. Further court battles will be ahead and the outcome of them can change things. Most likely though Chapterhouse will not come out on top.
The other thing to ask is was this handled right? In all honestly probably. A company or person has to defend his IP, if they do not then it can be infringed upon and if you try and go back at a later date, tough luck. Companies are forced to defend it, or let it be infringed upon. Could they have worked a deal to let chapter house continue under license, maybe, but then that has a whole host of other issues. Then they are tied to Chapterhouse, no longer are they they guys, they are part of GW and anything they do affects the company as a whole, good or bad, its the risk of licensing. Enforcing quality control, accepting produt returns, there is a significant amount of issues that go along with it. Its not simply, pay GW a fee and go about your business. It sounds like a good idea, but there is a reason its not done too often, especially in the miniatures.
The reality here is that there is no right or wrong side, good or evil. There are two groups trying to make money off the same idea, but only one owns that idea. We will see what happens to Chapterhouse, but I don't see it going too well for them, and I don't have much sympathy. They knew the risks an decided to take them.