Tag Archives: Gaming and Virtual IP

Covering your assets.

Originally posted 2013-09-24 16:02:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Over the weekend, all the nerdiest news outlets reported that Volpin Props—a company that makes props and replicas “mostly videogame related,” according to the outfit’s Facebook page, “but anything goes!”)—received a cease-and-desist letter from Couristan, Inc., a rug and carpeting concern… for possibly the nerdiest/coolest reason imaginable (under the circumstances): Volpin had made for two attendees of the recent DragonCon—held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, a hotel with a wide variety of some very, very busy carpeting—custom camouflage outfits in the same pattern as one of the busier carpets at the venue. See a terrific photo here  (reproduced below).

This probably would have been fine. That is, making custom carpet-camouflage costumes for a couple of conventioneers likely would not have gotten Volpin on Couristan’s radar. Or maybe it would have garnered Volpin praise from the carpeter. But Volpin didn’t just make the costumes; it reportedly put the fabric up for sale at Spoonflower.com, a site that sells fabrics, wallpapers, decals, gift wrap, etc. And that got Couristan’s attention—and Volpin got a C&D letter.

Volpin Props - carpetBecause of course. And I mean that: Assuming that Couristan holds the copyright to the carpet pattern—and, man, what a pattern it is!—then Volpin can’t sell a fabric with that same pattern, else it infringe on Couristan’s intellectual property rights. And, to Volpin’s credit, the company’s principal—Harrison Krix, himself of Atlanta—has asked (on Facebook, where much of the public commentary has been posted) that people “not send Courtisan [sic] Inc or Marriott any nasty messages concerning this. I’m in complete agreement with their decision.”

(If you have three or four hours free, you might read the nearly 500 comments on Volpin’s Facebook posts about carpet-flage-gate. Then check out photos of all the carpeting at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.)


More on toy models as trademark infringements

Ara Rubyan sends along this link to Boing Boing:

Josh sez, “The folks at BMC (Black Mustang Club) automotive forum wanted to put together a calendar featuring members’ cars, and print it through CafePress. Photos were submitted, the layout was set, and… CafePress notifies the site admin that pictures of Ford cars cannot be printed. Not just Ford logos, not just Mustang logos, the car — as a whole — is a Ford trademark and its image can’t be reproduced without permission. So even though Ford has a lineup of enthusiasts who want to show off their Ford cars, the company is bent on alienating them. ‘Them’ being some of the most loyal owners and future buyers that they have. Or rather, that they had, because many have decided that they will not be doing business with Ford again if this matter isn’t resolved.”

We’ve touched on the issue of whether toy models are infringements of the products they depict, even granting that the trademarks apply to the products themselves. In the case of a Ford car, it seems pretty clear that they do; in the case of a railroad locomotive manufactured by a third party but bearing the logo of a given line, it seems a dubious proposition indeed.

But Big IP is, after all, insatiable… and many big companies, not necessarily Big IP, but in struggling businesses such as, oh, automobile manufacturing and railroads, are looking at their dubious core businesses and deciding it’s time to “exploit the IP portfolio” to buy time till the next bailout or merger — and there you have it.

Fun in our age is only available via a written license, with royalties, reversions and attorneys’ fees upon breach.

UPDATE:  Much ado about nothing, or a climb-down by Ford?

More on virtual infringement

I’ve already written about what they’re writing about it, and now, so has Victoria Pynchon.

Virtual seizures

Andrew Cory tipped me off to this article in the Law of the Game blog involving a judicial “seizure” of gaming-world “assets.”

Talking to Andrew and tackling the article, I have the impression something very interesting is going on here. But the piece is so dense and loaded with jargon that I can’t really make heads or tails out of it. Don’t let that stop you from trying, though!

Second Life case settles

The IMPACT® blog reports a settlement in the Second Life dispute.