Posted February 6, 2013 by Amy in Board Games

Games Workshop Claims Commonlaw Patent of Term “Space Marine”


In which Goliath attempts to crush David into a pulp.

With the state of legal affairs today, it’s not even a surprise anymore when huge companies try to crush legitimate smaller entities simply by threatening court. After all, even if you have a rock solid case, it simply costs too much to hire a lawyer to fight it out in court. Sadly, it is an all too common, yet disturbing occurrence. Today’s focus is on the case of M.C.A Hogarth, a part time author who has published the book, Spots the Space Marine, on Amazon’s e-book store. The book is an original work of fiction, so imagine her surprise when the book was taken down due to a complaint of copyright infringement. The complainant? Games Workshop, maker of the popular Warhammer Tabletop games. If that sounds absurd to you, it gets better.

What could type of copyright could Hogarth possibly be infringing on? You could read all about it on Hogarth’s website, but basically, Games Workshop is claiming they have a “commonlaw patent” on the term “space marine”, due to their Warhammer 40K: Space Marine products, and since they have recently beginning publishing e-books themselves, they own the term in all formats. It’s an absurd claim, particularly when you consider the fact that they didn’t even coin the term “space marine”; it has been a staple in science fiction for literally decades.

Hogarth knows their claim is absurd; Games Workshop likely knows it as well. What they are counting on is the fact that a small time publisher simply doesn’t have the power or money to fight against their legal team. And unfortunately, they are probably right, as Amazon has already removed Hogarth’s book from their online store. It doesn’t make any easier to take though, so let’s all fight back a bit. Unless consumers take a stand, big companies will continue to crush their smaller competition, and consumers will suffer for it.


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)