The Popehat Signal: Help An Author Against A Bogus Trademark Claim

It's time to light up the Popehat Signal and seek legal help for an author wrongfully threatened by a large company.

The Popehat Signal

I first wrote about this situation in December. MCA Hogarth is a science fiction writer; she wrote a book called "Spots the Space Marine." Venerable gaming titan Games Workshop is claiming that it has a trademark in the term "Space Marine" that extends not just to games (like its well-known Warhammer 40,000) but to any use of "Space Marine" in science fiction. Never mind that the term has been in wide use in science fiction for many decades.

Hogarth, a self-published author, is finding unsympathetic to her arguments about Games Workshop's thuggish and meretricious claims, and is finding the cost of hiring trademark counsel an insurmountable barrier. (Edit: here's a mirror if her site gets slammed.) That's exactly the effect that 800-pound-gorillas like Games Workshop hope for when they make spurious claims — not that they'd win a protracted legal battle, but that their opponents lack the funds to fight, and that vendors like Amazon will defer to them.

As I have said before, I am always heartened by the response to the Popehat Signal. It's rare that it doesn't produce suitable pro bono counsel. So: this time, I'm hoping there is a trademark attorney out there — maybe a geeky one with the heart of a gamer, like me — willing to help Hogarth pro bono. Even advice and negotiation would be helpful, I bet. I would do whatever I can to coordinate support and backup for such a lawyer. As always, offers of help from lawyers in other fields, paralegals, tech experts, and other professionals is welcomed and helpful.

But that's not all.

I know you are out there, gamers and science fiction readers. Even if you're not an attorney, you can help. You can help by sending an email (edit: in the comments, Patrick offers the email to use) to Games Workshop telling them you won't buy their products while they engage in meritless trademark bullying. (Edit: or communicate with them by their Twitter account, You can help by spreading this story — and getting others involved — on every gaming and science fiction blog and board and forum out there. Inflict upon Games Workshop the consequences of their actions.

As always, thanks.

(And thanks to the dozens of people who emailed or tweeted me about this.)

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    With a small company like Games Workshop (I play Warhammer 40K), which survives because it sells expensive merchandise to a small number of customers, respectful emails really work.

    I just sent them an email advising them that I've purchased more than a hundred dollars of their wares within the past year (true), that I'm disappointed in their stance against Hogarth, and that whether I remain a customer depends on how this is resolved.

    If you're actually a customer (don't send them an email falsely claiming to be a customer if you're not), the email address in the United States is:

    Edit: Actually it's – See below.

  2. says

    Of course if you've purchased their licensed merchandise, such as Warhammer and Warhammer 40K based computer games, you are a Games Workshop customer.

    Let them know, politely and firmly.

  3. Roho says

    Holy crap, worlds colliding o_@

    For anyone who does take up this case, you'll have my everlasting thanks. MCA Hogarth is an amazing person – not just one of those who lives for creating, she is a huge supporter of the creative arts as a whole. I've seen her give endless time in support of her fellow writers and artists. Plus, one of the most genuinely kind and patient people I know. She does *not* deserve this sort of Monster Cable "Because We Can" crap treatment from Games Workshop.

    Ken, thank you for doing this, sincerely. If you're ever back in your old Boston stamping grounds, dinner and drinks are on me, your choice of place. Ditto for anyone who takes on the case.

    Go get 'em!

  4. says

    I just received a polite reply to my email.

    Hey there,

    Thanks for writing in to us! Unfortunately I am unable to answer any IP or legal questions on behalf of Games Workshop. Those kinds of questions need to be fielded to our legal department at I’m not sure how long it may take them to answer your question, but this is the right place to send it to.


    Games Workshop
    North America Customer Services

    It would appear that is the email address to use. Again, if you're an actual customer let Games Workshop know what you think, respectfully.

  5. Dan Irving says

    Tweeted and sent an email. A portion of the books sales went to The Wounded Warrior project. I pointed out in my email that not only is Games Workshop depriving an indie author of income, they are pretty worthy cause of funds.

  6. tsrblke says


    I'm not a customer of them. But most of my friends are. Would it be worthwhile to send them a polite email telling them fully intend on convincing my friends to cease purchasing even the slightest product from them based on this? (I suspect given my friends opinions on copyright and trademarking it wouldn't be a hard sell.)

  7. Dan Irving says

    "they are pretty worthy cause of funds."

    I no grammar good.

    they are depriving a pretty worthy cause of funds."

  8. Jeremy Driver says

    @tsr I think it would be more effective to ask them to write directly with their thoughts on the subject. Which is more effective, one voice or many?

  9. tsrblke says

    @Jeremy Driver,

    Well ideally I'd shoot for both. I was just curious if Patrick thought the approach would be effective.

  10. Kasey says

    I sent this…

    To whom it may concern,

    Please inform whoever is in charge of these decisions that so long as Games Workshop continues to use bully tactics and copyright/trademark troll tactics in order to prevent other intellectual property owners from using terms as ubiquitous and venerated as "space marine', I will no longer be supporting Games Workshop with my hard earned money.

    The term 'space marine' has been a part of the public perception long before Games Workshop existed. So attempt to control such a far-reaching and common trope of the space opera genre is at once despicable and hilariously sad. To my mind, it would be the equivalent of Snapple attempting to prevent anyone from using the word 'apple'.


    Kasey *******
    A formerly loyal customer.

  11. William says

    Since 40k is stolen from Starship Troopers an novel by robert a hineland it doesnt suprise me theyd be scared of another novelist.

  12. Greg says

    Kasey – Just a suggestion (to you and anyone else reading), but you might want to reference the specifics in question and maybe even a link to this article. The random customer service person that gets your email may not have any idea what you are talking about.

  13. Eric says

    For what it's worth, I emailed the legal team with the following:

    Dear Games Workshop:

    I have been a customer of Games Workshop products for more than half my life, having purchased literally thousands of U.S. dollars worth of books, games, miniatures, models and paints from the company along with licensed merchandise and video games.

    As a loyal customer therefore I was extremely disappointed to learn that the Games Workshop legal team has decided to enforce a very dubious trademark claim of the term "Space Marine" against an independent author, MCA Hogarth, which resulted in her getting her book, "Spots the Space Marine" removed from Amazon. By doing so, Games Workshop has deprived her of a portion of her income.

    Many of us got into the gaming hobby as young teenagers to get away from bullies, and this behavior from Games Workshop can only be described as bullying. Although I acknowledge and respect the need to protect your intellectual property, Games Workshop in no way owns the term "space marine" which has commonly been used in fiction since the 1930s.

    Until Games Workshop rescinds its trademark claim against MCA Hogarth and apologizes for its heavy-handed tactics, I will not be purchasing any additional products from the company (including a copy of Warhammer 40,000 sixth edition and new miniatures and paints I had planned to buy) and will encourage my gaming friends to take the same course of action. I trust you will do the right thing.

  14. W.F.Heart says

    I posted this on mcah's website, but wanted to do it here, as well …

    Ken, I am so AMAZED at what you did for mcah to help her with receiving justice for GW’s bogus claim. There’s a trademark lawyer (Richard Allen•Feb 6, 2013 @11:33 am) who already responded to your call for help. I had tears in my eyes when I read all the support from you, Richard and everyone else who posted! With the power of the Internet and social networking, no longer does the little guy have to be bullied and forced into submission. My heart is just bursting with love for people like you, right now, lol.

    I wish you and Richard LOTS of future business for your giving and caring hearts! It’s lawyers like you both who give your profession a good name.

  15. George William Herbert says

    The EFF was consulted to start with, but apparently declined to take it pro bono – my guess (without knowing or asking EFF in detail) as it's a trademark claim (not copyright) and muddy but not muddy in an internet / new media / new rights related way. They did apparently sympathize, and forward a list of potential attorneys, none of whom were apparently willing to do it pro bono.

  16. J. Grizzard says

    I've known Micah, to some degree, for half a decade now. She is awesome and genuine and truly deserves some assistance on this. I really hope someone can help her out.

  17. John Vreeland says

    The Games Workshop Space Marines are rather unique and specific in their depiction and development. In fact, they are actually not what the average person would think of if you said "space marines"–I think the movie _Aliens_ would be more familiar, even if they never specifically called them "space marines" (just marines). _Starship Trooper_ might also be invoked, as an example of a ship-born light infantry soldier…in space. The idea of "marines in space" is certainly not original to Games Workshop. "Marines in space" would also necessarily be science fiction by definition, so that particular attempt GW to make it more specific is moot.

  18. Loerwyn says

    I'm not sure where you got this idea that Games Workshop (or its subsidiaries) are "small". They manage numerous best-selling novels each year, consistently take up a lot of space in genre top sellers lists, the video games they have with other companies have typically sold well and been of high quality, and they sell models and merchandise in a large number of countries. It's a deep part of British sci-fi (and fantasy) culture, with a large number of those who have grown up in the past 40 years knowing of Warhammer. Oh, and they did that movie which had a voice cast including Terence Stamp, Donald Sumpter, Sean Pertwee and John Hurt. Going back to their books, they have books written by big names like James Swallow and Dan Abnett, both of whom are heavily involved in British genre media.

    Games Workshop are a pretty dang big deal. And they abuse it, and this is just another manifestation of that. But they'll get away with it, as they have been doing for as long as I can remember.

  19. says

    Point of order!!
    The Games Workshop term for the space marines is Adeptus Astartes…a term you could trade mark with an honest face.
    Every author will have unique and specific depiction and development of their own brand of space marine…unless they are a hack. (M.C.A. Hogarth isn't a hack)


  20. says

    Loerwyn, I don't know any business large enough that it can afford to piss off its customers, and I represent companies hundreds or thousands of times larger than Games Workshop.

  21. CaulynDarr says


    GW has been pissing off their customers pretty consistently for the past 10 years, it hasn't killed them yet.

    This is a company that doesn't allow online retailers to sell their products with an online shopping cart. The only place you can buy their product online is through their website. They hit sellers with trademark/copyright notices if they do.

    They also locked down all European third party distributors from selling to Australia. So Australian hobbyist have to pay absurd markups.

    Then there is also

  22. Loerwyn says

    But the thing is, like most internet occurrences of this nature, you're talking a small group of their customers being outraged. Unless you picketed every bookstore, every store that sells their miniatures, you're not going to reach even half of their customers. It's like… I don't know, look at the gaming industry – look at the behaviours of Ubisoft, EA, Activision and even Valve to some extent. Those companies have all done things that are consumer unfriendly. Broken promises, excessive DRM, low quality releases. Yet they're still in business, still making profits. Or look at authors with extremist beliefs like *Cough* *Cough* Card. They're still bestsellers despite their well-known (online) beliefs.

    Games Workshop is going to walk out of this whether they're hit or not, and they're going to do so by the fact that unless these stories are picked up by mainstream media (they're not going to be), then the vast majority won't hear about them. And let's say Games Workshop lose and take damages. They're operating in profits of millions, they can afford to take a hit and continue.

    These are the guys who will, completely barefaced, charge you £11-13 for a print omnibus on The Black Library whilst at the same time offering you the ebook editions for £19.50 (and upwards). They don't even attempt to hide it.

  23. says

    Oh, well then I must concede you're right CaulynDarr. There's no point in boycotting Games Workshop, or even complaining, after all.

    I guess I'll celebrate by buying a hundred bucks worth of miniatures tonight.

  24. CaulynDarr says


    That's not what I'm saying. GW has been killing itself one customer at time. And I'm all for boycotting them.

    I just don't think GW will care, as they have consistently not cared about every reaction to any negative thing they have done. The company has been completely inexplicable in their actions for as long as I've played their games.

    They have this belief that they make the bulk of their money off 13-year-olds that buy into the game and quit after 8 months. They treat most of their long term customers as disposable.

  25. Noah Callaway says

    Hrm. I saw this elsewheres on the internet and came here to ask if this is the kind of thing you'd throw up the popehat signal for.

    Question answered.

    Thanks for being awesome.

  26. says

    Here is the email that I sent to them.

    Dear Games Workshop,

    I have been a loyal player for many years now. I first started with a Vampire Counts army purchased in 2002 with money from working all summer. I have since then bought thousands of dollars worth of product, scenery, video games, books, models, paints, and even a Chaos Warhound Titan from Forge World. Through numerous price increases and other disappointments I have stayed a loyal customer. With the release of fifth edition I was going to be updating my armies with new product and adding the new fliers to my forces.

    It has been brought to my attention that you are fraudulently trying to claim that the term "Space Marine" belongs to you. As this term has been around in literature for decades before your company ever used it there is no conceivable way that you could actually believe you are entitled to a trademark of this name. You have blocked the Novel "Spots the Space Marine" by M.C.A Hogarth from being sold on Amazon by pure thuggery.

    I am sending this email to express my feelings on the matter, I have decided that I will no longer be purchasing as much as a paint pot from Games Workshop as long as you continue these deplorable actions. The only reason you would do something like this to a small company and ignore larger ones such as Blizzard (Starcraft), Paramount Pictures (Star Trek V), Twentieth Century Fox (Avatar), and Bethesda (Doom 3 &4), all of whom used Space Marine is pure thuggery.

    You know that an individual does not have the money to fight you. Well at this point in time I am donating all of the money that would have gone to GW product over the coming year and I will be giving it to this woman's legal fund. Furthermore I am passing this on to Adeptus North Texas, Bell of Lost Souls, Tau Online, and every other GW group and forum that I am a member of. Let the lost revenue of your customers inform you of what a poor decision you have made.

    I will never purchase another item from Games Workshop until it apologizes to both Hogarth, the community, and retracts its legal claim.

    -Best Regards

    Games Workshop has been hemorrhaging money for years. Companies like Reaper and Privateer Press make better models that cost less, the only thing GW has for it is they are more or less dominant in being the largest mass combat tabletop system.

    However they continue to loose market share every year due to their price increases and incredibly dickish behavior, (and everything Matt Ward writes).

  27. wgering says

    Here's my two cents:

    To whom it may concern,

    I recently was informed of, and greatly perturbed by, a legal kerfuffle between your company and the science-fiction author M.C.A. Hogarth regarding her use of the term "space marine" in her work.

    With respect, I believe this to be at best a questionable claim of trademark. The term "space marine" has been widely-used in science fiction for decades by authors such as Robert Heinlein, Bob Olsen and Michael Reubens. I believe attempting to enforce such a broad and dubious trademark claim across the entire body of science-fiction literature is unwise, as it will cost GW money (which could and should instead be spent on shiny new figures) and do nothing but harm for their public image.

    While I acknowledge the importance of protecting one's intellectual property, I believe that targeting small self-published authors (most of whom lack significant resources for legal affairs) is the wrong way to go about it. Speaking plainly, it makes your company appear thuggish.

    Now if someone were to write a novel about a group of seven-foot-tall, genetically-enhanced, power-armoured, boltgun-armed soldiers with impractically-large shoulder plates called the Ultra Black Dark Templar Angel Marines, that might be a different story (pardon the pun).

    Speaking as a GW customer with a 5,000-point Empire army, a 12,000-point Orc & Goblin army, and a 6,000-point Tau army, I am afraid I shan't be expanding any of those collections so long as Games Workshop maintains an unfriendly attitude toward fellow science-fiction enthusiasts. Shame too, that new Karl Franz sculpt is really pretty. I was also looking forward to converting a Balthasar Gelt figure on a golden griffon.

    Good thing my Reaper Kickstarter box shows up in a month, otherwise I might be bored.


    Devout of Sigmar

    This is also all over Google+ now. GW may be in for some Streisand Effect here pretty soon.

  28. Art Is Resistance says

    Is it worth pointing out that the book, contrary to some of the comments above, is still available to buy on Amazon? It hasn't been pulled.
    But don't let the truth get in the way chaps, you carry on bashing the big bad corporation!

  29. ScottB says

    My understanding is for some reason this is only about the e-book version and not the physical version of the book. Yes you can still purchase the physical version of the book on Amazon but you can't purchase the e-book version.

  30. says

    If you purchase your Games Workshop stuff from your local game store you might let them know that you will no longer be purchasing GW items from them. Once the local game stores start getting involved because they are losing business maybe Games Workshop will listen. Not that I would want to hurt the small local business but they are my direct line for GW merchandise.

  31. Joel Finch says

    The "infringement" email address mentioned above appears to be for reporting piracy of their products to them.

    However, the canned response email nvites us to use this email address after waiting a reasonable length of time for a detailed response to our query:

    It also suggests to prefix the subject with "Legal Query" to get through spam filters. I personally am choosing to define "reasonable" as "this morning" and re-mailing my complaint immediately.

  32. Angus S-F says

    Amusing to see this unfold (although probably not for MCAH). I suspect GW is going to lose this one. FWIW:

    Space marine – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The earliest known use of the term "space marine" was by Bob Olsen in his short story "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" (Amazing Stories, Volume 7, Number 8, November 1932), a light-hearted work whose title is a play on the song "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines", and in which the protagonists were marines of the "Earth Republic Space Navy" on mission to rescue celebrity twins from aliens on Titan. Olsen published a novella sequel four years later, "The Space Marines and the Slavers" (Amazing Stories, Volume 10, Number 13, December 1936), featuring the same characters against Martian space pirates, and using a spaceship with active camouflage.[2]

  33. Joe Pullen says

    I remember sending a very polite inquiry about this whole thing over to them on 12/14 of last year to seeking comment. Never received an answer. Not surprised.

  34. James Pollock says

    Couldn't ANY attorney take on the case as a matter of tortious interference and unfair trade practices? Perhaps, one admitted in Washington, home jurisdiction of

  35. Jon Peltier says

    My brother in law is involved in a similar situation. A large corporation has threatened his small company because of a perceived similarity of their respective logos. They're both blue, and that's where the resemblance ended. But my bro in law has decided the $50k for a new logo is much less than $300k in legal fees to defend his logo.

  36. says

    For those like myself considering buying some of her books using the link posted above. Please consider finding what you are interested in and then accessing via the Amazon box on Popehat so as to help this great sight.

    I'm sure the proprietors of Popehat are too polite to ask, but they certainly are worthy of the referral fees.

  37. zeek says

    @Art is Resistance
    This isn't even remotely about 'big bad corporation'. They are legally in the wrong here, and will get their ass handed to them in court. The only issue is having the money to fight it – GW are hoping to scare people off with the cost of a lawsuit and have their way quick and easy. This is why they have never gone after Activision-Blizzard for Starcraft.

  38. jackie says

    first off i think some people need to be careful about how they slander GW in the respect that thier Space Marine idea was stolen from another work.
    Secondly GW Do have a trademark for Space Marines, the chances are, someone queried it with Amazon, once they saw the title and Amazon may have pulled it to cover thier arses.

    This is what GWs trade mark explicitly covers.

    Goods and Services IC 028. US 022. G & S: board games, parlor games, war games, hobby games, toy models and miniatures of buildings, scenery, figures, automobiles, vehicles, planes, trains and card games and paint, sold therewith. FIRST USE: 19870900. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19871000

    and this is what thier legal documents say about thier trademarks and copyrights.

    Last updated: 01 January 2010
    All artwork and logos on this site and all the images contained therein have been produced either in-house or as work for hire. The exclusive copyright in the logos and artwork, including the images it depicts, is the property of Games Workshop Limited. © Copyright Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2013.
    All subject matter in White Dwarf is © Copyright Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2013.
    All artwork in all Games Workshop products, and all images contained therein have been produced either in-house or as work for hire. All rights reserved.

    Adeptus Astartes, Battlefleet Gothic, Black Flame, Black Library, the Black Library logo, BL Publishing, Blood Angels, Bloodquest, Blood Bowl, the Blood Bowl logo, The Blood Bowl Spike Device, Cadian, Catachan, the Chaos device, Cityfight, the Chaos logo, Citadel, Citadel Device, City of the Damned, Codex, Daemonhunters, Dark Angels, Dark Eldar, Dark Future, the Double-Headed/Imperial Eagle device, 'Eavy Metal, Eldar, Eldar symbol devices, Epic, Eye of Terror, Fanatic, the Fanatic logo, the Fanatic II logo, Fire Warrior, Forge World, Games Workshop, Games Workshop logo, Genestealer, Golden Demon, Gorkamorka, Great Unclean One, the Hammer of Sigmar logo, Horned Rat logo, Inferno, Inquisitor, the Inquisitor logo, the Inquisitor device, Inquisitor:Conspiracies, Keeper of Secrets, Khemri, Khorne, Kroot, Lord of Change, Marauder, Mordheim, the Mordheim logo, Necromunda, Necromunda stencil logo, Necromunda Plate logo, Necron, Nurgle, Ork, Ork skull devices, Sisters of Battle, Skaven, the Skaven symbol devices, Slaanesh, Space Hulk, Space Marine, Space Marine chapters, Space Marine chapter logos, Talisman, Tau, the Tau caste designations, Tomb Kings, Trio of Warriors, Twin Tailed Comet Logo, Tyranid, Tyrannid, Tzeentch, Ultramarines, Warhammer, Warhammer Historical, Warhammer Online, Warhammer 40k Device, Warhammer World logo, Warmaster, White Dwarf, the White Dwarf logo, and all associated marks, names, races, race insignia, characters, vehicles, locations illustrations and images from the Blood Bowl game, the Warhammer world, the Talisaman world, and the Warhammer 40,000 universe are either ®, TM and/or © Copyright Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2013, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. All Rights Reserved

    They do not claim to Invent the term, what they have done is reserved the right to use it in a paticular context, like Coke, Macdonalds or Burger King etc.

  39. Vega says

    Since it's a trademark rather than a copyright, isn't it irrelevant that they didn't create the term themselves? And to maintain that trademark, aren't they legally obligated to defend it if someone else attempts to use it in the same context that they have trademarked it?

    (Personally, I think trademarking a widely-used term and then expecting people to not use it is idiotic and someone really should have thought that one through but I want to know whether my (basic) understanding of trademark law is correct.)

  40. Nemo says

    @Vega By that logic, I can claim "Hamlet" and "Henry V" as trademarks, and thereby censor Shakespeare in any form. Should Coca-Cola be able to censor any work that refers to processed coal as "coke"? I think not.

    GW is stealing here, pure and simple, and censoring to support their theft, as well.

  41. says

    first off i think some people need to be careful about how they slander GW in the respect that thier Space Marine idea was stolen from another work.

    It would be libel, not slander. One of the defenses against libel is the statement is believed to be true. Another is commentary on public figures. There are a few others, but I think people are covered. There's also the fact that GW is welcome to sue. I am just guessing that most of the people on this board have access to better representation than the author in question.

    Also, as stupid as GW are for pressing a spurious trademark claim they would have to blindingly incompetent to try a libel case. They seldom go well. Read up on the Raanan Katz libel case. The guy is now an iternet meme for looking like an asshat. He could have let an obscure blogger mock him in obscurity or he could make sure the mockery consists of the first ten pages of google images. He made himself into the internet's court jester.

    I've got some real fears and stresses in my life. Worrying about a company getting butthurt over what I say about them on the internet isn't one of them. GW can suck balls.

  42. jackie says

    to be honest i am well aware that GW is stupidly overpriced, but perhaps people are just jumping on the bandwagon here, i am sure the lady in question is a excellent writer, but has anyone here who are so earger to jump on GWs case actually stopped to think that to cover thier backsides Amazon might have just pulled the story? To my knowledge GW has not claimed ownership of the term Space Marine if that was the case then i think there would have been issues with James Cameron and the Aliens use of Colonial Space Marines.
    I am not saying that they do not have thier moments but comments like GW can suck balls really makes your arguement null and void.
    Until a statement from GW is released regarding this issue, than i suggest people hold off on thier remarks, for all you know they might just talk to the person involved to come to some empass…you know communicate, it has been known to happen.
    I also do not think they threaten legal action to get thier own way on the smaller fish, that would be opening a can of worms which would lead to a whole more host of troubles. They have been around for 25 – 30 years, they are not stupid by any means and they know how to conduct themselves.

  43. says


    We put links in for several reasons. One of those reasons is that it keeps us from having to quote every single word a source link has written. If you'll read the links, you'll know that Amazon pulled the book after a demand by Games Workshop, based on its claim of ownership of the term "Space Marine."

    That's what MCA Hogarth says, and I've no reason to doubt her, given Games Workshops' history.

    What valuable pixels you've wasted.

  44. says

    I wasn't making an argument with the "suck balls" comment, but rather demonstrating the idea that "some people need to be careful about how they slander GW" is silly. You do have a valid point in that so far we only have one side of the story and sometimes these things end up being no more than a witch hunt with the facts no way resembling the actuality.

    What I know for sure:

    1. MCA Hogarth's eBook is no longer available on Amazon.
    2. The author states this is because of action by Games Workshop.
    3. Games Workshop is not commenting, but rather referring people to their legal team.
    4. The legal team has not yet commented.
    5. This story is being picked up by some major news sites and it behooves GW to get out in front of this story.
    6. The author does not seem to have a credibility problem.

    I'm fine with telling a bully to suck balls. I'm also sure GW can stand up for itself if it feels slighted.

  45. Richard Thompson says

    Here's a copy of my letter, I've sent it to UK Customer Services for obvious reasons:

    Dear Games Workshop,

    To say I was upset when I read about the action your legal team has taken against MCA Hogarth in relation to her Spots the Space Marine title would be a massive understatement. Once again your legal team has managed to embarrass you with a poorly considered action with little or no merit.

    For ten years I have run a Tactical Wargames Club at my school, we were one of the first to support and actively promote the schools league at its inception, but decisions by your company's legal team in recent years have had me questioning my ethical stance and now it has come to a head.

    I cannot, in all good faith, continue to support a company that actively participates in bullying. I cannot support a company that silences creative writing. I cannot support a company that will destroy the fundamental literary works that its own creative works were based on if it continues on this path.

    GW owns the IP of specific group of genetically engineered Space Marines not the term "Space Marine". Until someone at your company reins in the errant legal team I will not be supporting your company and will actively work with other companies that actually care about their IP enough protect it passively.

    As a result, until further notice all GW products will be removed from our gaming club, we will NOT be participating in the Schools League and I will be actively encouraging my club members to boycott the new Rotherham store.

    For many years you were a big company in a little pond, but the pond is getting larger and it is obvious and saddening to everyone that has supported your company over the decades that it is on the decline. You don't need, and really can't afford, to continue this absurd secular mentality for too much longer.

    Please change, before it is too late.

    Yours hopefully,

    Richard Thompson (Learning Support)
    Clifton Tactical Wargaming Co-ordinator

  46. jackie says

    patrick, i am trying to make the point that there are two sides to every story, at this moment in time as GW have not commented it does not put them in a great light.
    I Did not ask for your somewhat rude comment regarding wasting my pixels, which i assume means wasting my time. As i suggested, at some point there will be a press release, so before starting your hang draw and quater any devil advocate arguement, perhapes you should at least wait and see what they have to say.

    Ms Hogarth has had her say, and no matter how long it takes them, GW have the right to respond and not be witch hunted turning it all from a mole hill to a mountain.

    and if wasting my pixels to get my point across means i get harranged then i suppose this is turning to a get GW website….shame really cause there are some interesting points on here.

  47. asdf says

    What MCAH needs right now is adequate pro-bono legal representation. Frankly, winning or forcing GW to back down on the merits is more important than a boycott or other PR stunt. GW has a long history of this, and a solid record of overturned claims will help future defendants.

  48. jackie says

    Games Workshop have owned the Trademark for the term Space Marines for over 20 years. They are entitled under UK and US law to file a law suit pertaining to anything that impedes thier trademark and/or may cause confusion with one of thier own products.
    Under thier UK Trademark that also covers printed material and that may even cover E Books.

    They have owned this trademark since 1991 and renewed it in 2005, so therefore, they are not actually in the wrong about what they have done. Thier legal team know exactly what they are doing and they are acting within the boundaries of UK Law

  49. says

    Ms Hogarth has had her say, and no matter how long it takes them, GW have the right to respond and not be witch hunted turning it all from a mole hill to a mountain.

    This is hilarious. I'll assume you meant the joke.

  50. Joe Pullen says

    @Jackie – how long exactly do you think we should wait for GW to formulate a response – it’s been over two months so far. What in your opinion would be a fair amount of time for large company with a big legal team who constantly deals with copyright and trademark issues to drag something out at the expense of the little guy. Just curious.

  51. jackie says

    hilarious or not…its the way it is they are acting within the law, agree with it not, it is the law as it stands. Glad you find it amusing.

  52. Dan Weber says

    Even if GW is legit in their ownership, Hogarth deserves competent legal representation when dealing with them.

  53. jackie says

    abuse of the system maybe, but as it stands at the moment, they are within thier right to do what they have done, and any half decent legal team will know that before promising anything that cannot be delievered. i cannot see this standng up in court due to the longeviity of thier trademark.
    They are at the end of the day a buisness and all buisness's like it or not do what they have to do to protect their work, including authors, established or internet, they will trademark and copyright anything to do with thier creations.

  54. says

    Games Workshop have owned the Trademark for the term Space Marines for over 20 years. They are entitled under UK and US law to file a law suit pertaining to anything that impedes thier trademark and/or may cause confusion with one of thier own products.

    Let's take a look at their trademark:

    "…video computer games; computer software for playing games

    board games, parlor games, war games, hobby games, toy models and miniatures of buildings, scenery, figures, automobiles, vehicles, planes, trains and card games and paint, sold therewith.

    Don't see anything in there about books. If you'll notice they left the print edition up there, probably because they know they have no case. They only attacked the e-edition because they may be getting into e-books and don't want the confusion. Sorry, but that's not how trademark works. You don't get to suddenly shoe-horn your trademark into whatever field you are entering. Look at the whole Apple vs. Apple Records thing.

    So if the author were making a video game based on her books…GW might have a case. I'm not a lawyer, but if I were a juror I would laugh at this trademark.

    Christopher "Space Marine" Jorgensen

  55. jackie says

    and whenever they decide to do it, i still stand by what i said and obviously so do all of you. So this arguement is pointless really, no matter what i put up you are all on the get the big man, sometimes the man is not always the bad guy…..but obviously none of you are prepared to see it that way.

  56. says

    Put everything else aside for a minute. Games Workshop trademarked the term "space marines." You can't get more generic than that. This was a stupid trademark that should have never been granted. Kembrew McLeod trademarked the term "freedom of expression." He did it as a joke and to show trademark is broken. On challenge it'll go away. Just as "Space Marine" will go away when challenged.

  57. htom says

    Jackie — because you think you have a right does not always make it right to exercise that right to hurt others, and that is sometimes especially so when you really do have that right. I hope the court lands on them with a platoon of space marines wearing Gamma Rabbit tee-shirts over their powered armour.

  58. Joe Pullen says

    you are all on the get the big man, sometimes the man is not always the bad guy…..but obviously none of you are prepared to see it that way

    No that's not it at all Jackie – this has nothing to do with the size o the company or who they are going up against. It is about the fact that GW is pursuing trademark infringement in an adjacent arena that isn't even remotely connected to their business and can't be bothered to respond with any sort of response.

    I can't help it if you are incapable of doing your homework.

  59. Dan says

    Why are you folks emailing the legal department? The customer service folks are the ones charged with keeping the customers happy. Legal is in charge of legal matters, and I would think cares less about customer happiness. We should want the customer service people to be the ones to face our wrath, because they'll have better access to the people who care about such things — marketers and the like.

  60. says

    Probably because the Customer Service response has been directing people to Legal.

    I'm not convinced there is actually a legal department. That domain resolves to a parked domain. They could be running email services on it I suppose, but who leaves up the crap advertisements hosting providers put on black sites? Either that or the info above is incorrect.

    I agree with you though. I contacted customer service. Let them direct my letter to legal if they feel so inclined.

  61. says

    I can help. I am an internet lawyer, trademark attorney and arts and entertainment. Send me an email about how I can help. There is no way consumers will be confused about the source of the games and the source of the book.

  62. James Pollock says

    "as it stands at the moment, they are within thier right to do what they have done"
    Not in the U.S., and probably not anywhere else, either.

    "any half decent legal team will know that before promising anything that cannot be delievered. i cannot see this standng up in court due to the longeviity of thier trademark"
    Trademark doesn't give you the right to preclude anyone from using the term, ever. It gives you the right to preclude anyone from using your mark to indicate the source of THEIR goods. It expressly does not give you the right to prevent people from using words in their generic definition.
    I am not a lawyer, but I DID take the trademark course at my local law school.

  63. Eldariel says

    I think it's telling that they've trademarked "Eldar" and "Ork" but haven't gone after the Tolkien estate for using those terms… because the Tolkien estate would, rightfully, tie them up and spit-roast them in court, as both terms are the inventions of JRRT.

  64. WhangoTango says

    Jackie: This site has long been a GW-basher site, and the owners don't see any problem with slagging off the people who comment here.

    Jorgensen: McDonald's has trademarked the term "Quarter Pounder", which is in fact a unit of measure. ZOMG MCDONALDS IS TRYING TO SAY THEY HOLD THE COPYRIGHT FOR PHYSICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  65. says

    This site has long been a GW-basher site, and the owners don't see any problem with slagging off the people who comment here.

    Is lol trademarked?

  66. says

    And if McDonald's tried applying their trademark against scientists I would think they are as stupid as you are.

    If people had been calling burgers quarter pounders for decades before McDonald's started using the term your analogy would work. Instead you're an idiot. I am too, but at least I know it.

  67. zeek says

    The pro-GW commenters are precious and hilarious, thank you jackie, whangotango, art is resistance for lightening up this day for me.

    'A little knowledge is a dangerous thing'

  68. Aaron says

    So, maybe a bit off topic, but Loerwyn:

    look at the behaviours of Ubisoft, EA, Activision and even Valve to some extent.

    Valve is spotless. I have never seen a company more consumer-friendly than Valve, who are practically consumer advocates. EA, Ubisoft, and Activision don't belong in the same sentence as them.

  69. James Pollock says

    "if McDonald's tried applying their trademark against scientists I would think they are as stupid as you are."

    That. Yes.

  70. AlphaCentauri says

    I should think that if they only wanted to avoid confusion with their games, it would be adequate to ask Hogart to include a disclaimer on her copyright page to state that her space marines are unrelated to their game. It's an e-book; it's not like she'd have to have it pasted it into printed copies.

  71. Dave Freer says

    Jackie – if you'd spent 1/8 of the time you took to compose your comments on reading the links you'd save yourself time and embarrassment. 1)MC Hogarth has done her homework. Their spurious trademark claim does not cover the US anyway. 2)She's contacted them directly. The substance of their reply is that they – NOW – deciding to move into the e-book arena. You cannot after neglect of 18 years suddenly decide to defend a trademark. 3)They cannot claim to have 'defended their trademark' in e-books as, conservatively, there are at least 20 MAJOR users of the term and thousands of minor mentions and less popular authors- who have been using it for many years both in print and e-print. There has been no attempt to challenge their usage – and while you may be ignorant of this, some have been available for more than 10 years as e-books. The overall circulation of these is at least 10 of millions. As they have not defended it for a decade, the usage is widespread (and has nothing at all to do with their product and in no way damages it (rather recognition of the term makes their product more accessible – it is itself a derivation of just what it sets out to claim exclusive use of
    This claim is not only spurious, it's farcical. It has no chance in court at all. They're only persisting in stonewalling because they see the author as a small weak target without the resources to deal with them. What you can find to defend in such behavior is beyond me, and, I would think, most other people not employed by the legal department of GW.

  72. Loerwyn says

    Aaron; Steam has features that are STILL broken or not entirely functional, and it is missing some needed features. It always goes down during sales. They pretty much ignore EU consumer law. Their pricing – from what I understand – can be unfair to customers. And then Valve as a developer – always late, no communication, have left numerous issues in their multiplayer (in particular) games, Left 4 Dead 2's very existence, and so on. Valve Time's existence is pretty much proof they're not brilliant.

    They do some good stuff, admittedly, but they're not clean. They just have a legion of fans who'll defend everything they do. Or don't do. But you try getting actual, decent service from Steam Support. It isn't going to happen.

  73. Helen says

    @jackie…. they may have a right to defend their trademark but they havent exercised that right when it comes to the big companies. therefore in essense forfeiting their claim to holding a trademark for 20+ years or whatever it happens to be. In order to hold a trademark they need to defend it. they havent defended it until now when they think they can win.

  74. says

    Regarding Steam, I would also point out that Valve had been trouble to deal with at times for people who have had account problems. E.g. the bank decides to contest a charge (unbeknowest to the card holder), and so Valve turns around and freezes the entire account. I've seen this happen to multiple people across multiple game forums, and in the worst instance the gamer went weeks without access to legally purchased games.

    Valve might be better about that sort of thing now. One would hope.

  75. Anony Mouse says

    Loerwyn, "Valve Time" is hardly unique to Valve, nor did it originate with them. In fact, it's pretty common to every single game developer in the history of video games. For instance, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth went through four years of development delays across numerous developers before Bethesda finally kicked it out the door in 2005.

  76. princessartemis says

    Anony Mouse, surely the correct game to cite for development time above and beyond the call of duty is Duke Nukem Forever?

    The trouble I find with Steam (and thus Valve) is that it is software I don't have any desire to use. I've tried it before and it just seems quite pointless to me. But there are games that, if I wished to play them, would force me to also use Steam. I consider undesired software that I cannot get rid of, forced to install and run, in order to use other software, as malware. And now, other companies are following Valve's example, tying their games to platforms such as Origin. So, I won't call them spotless, though they are, at least, up front about their efforts to force unwanted software onto my system, unlike EA.

  77. says


    "I think it's telling that they've trademarked "Eldar" and "Ork" but haven't gone after the Tolkien estate for using those terms…"

    I was just thinking that in a perfect world the Tolkien Estate would come down on GW with the force of 40,000 'Eavy Metal Warhammers.

  78. James Pollock says

    "Anony Mouse, surely the correct game to cite for development time above and beyond the call of duty is Duke Nukem Forever?"

    No, it's "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", which is well over 20 years behind schedule. Admittedly, the death of Mr. Adams would seem to be an insurmountable obstacle, but the pace of development barely slowed at all when he died.

  79. says

    I fired up to support the author (it's far from finished). I also wrote Games Workshop a letter and one to the US patent office as well. Nothing will come of any of this, but I'm fine with this. The book is back on sale and Games Workshop looks stupid with their dick under their shoe.

    All is well with the world as far as I am concerned. I hope the author gets more sales out of this than she lost from the dick stepping company in question. I bought four or five of her e-books. I won't even read the damn things, but it was an easy way to say fuck you to GW.

  80. princessartemis says

    James, when Restaurant at the End of the Universe is released, then it will be an example of a game with development time to make Valve and Blizzard look like speed demons :)

  81. Stephen Caddy says

    I have a set of wargame rules called Space Marines published by FanTac Games of the U.S.A. in 1977. So GW were not first with the usage in SciFi wargaming.


  82. James Pollock says

    You don't have to be first to get a trademark. You have to be the current user with the longest continuous usage. These are similar but not identical.

  83. James Pollock says

    "Space Marines" is not generic, unless you are speaking of infantry deployed from a ship in space.
    For comparison: Apple is generic as a description of fruit. It is not generic with regard to computer equipment, music playback devices, or digital music downloads. So, "The Apple Store" would be an invalid trademark for a store that sells apples, but it isn't for a store that sells computers. Apple Computer can get a court order preventing someone from calling their store "the Apple Store" but the can't get one to stop people from selling apples, or publishing books about apples, etc.
    So, GW can get a trademark on "space marines" for a series of products related to a game, but they can't prevent people from using the dictionary meaning of "space marines" in unrelated areas.
    AFAIK, the only exception would be if someone falsely suggested affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship, or the like, which is where so many "Super Bowl" complaints come from.

  84. Rliyen says

    Aaand it's gotten a bit worse for GW. In order to rabbit hole the bad reaction to the Space Marine debacle, they took down their corporate FB page, and it looks like the BL is making the removal permanent. It's directing people to check with their local game stores or to check White Dwarf Daily.

    As a former GW customer, directly because of their actions in this matter as well as their douchebaggery on the 'Geek, the Schadenfreude Pie they delivered is damn tasty.

  85. says

    "Space Marines" is not generic, unless you are speaking of infantry deployed from a ship in space.

    How else would you use the term?

    Trademarking "Space Marines" is like Disney/Pixar trying to trademark the word "Cars."

  86. James Pollock says

    """Space Marines" is not generic, unless you are speaking of infantry deployed from a ship in space.
    How else would you use the term?"

    Well, I might use it to describe the branding on a set of rules for a tabletop game, for example, in which case I would be referring neither to actual space nor actual Marines nor any other combinations of the dictionary meanings of "space" or "marines".

    I suppose you could use a different dictionary meaning for "space", and use "space marines" to refer to a service which organizes your closets with dispatch and efficiency and precise attention to detail, but that would also be generic.

    I'll repeat my example for you. "Apple" is not generic when used to describe computer equipment, but it IS generic when used to describe fruit. Ownership of a trademark NEVER precludes others from using words in their ordinary dictionary meanings, UNLESS they are used in a way that suggests affiliation or sponsorship.

  87. Bogus Mouse says

    Having trademark over something has been used as an excuse for many a legal threat. For example a blog critical of a Singaporean organization received a legal threat, blaming trademark infringment. (The blog is also the subject of a defamation lawsuit) The failed trademark threat is archived by Chilling Effects at and such archiving does serve a social purpose, hope the author does the same.


  1. […] Popehat Signal: Help An Author Against A Bogus Trademark Claim Games Workshop, owner of the Warhammer series, is suing in independant writer, MCA Hogarth, over the word they claim to have a trademark on: “Space Marine”. In spite of those words as a phrase being used in fiction numerous times. MCA Hogarth has also appeared on Webfiction World (part of the WCBN).…trademark-claim/ […]