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CCP claiming intellectual property rights of alliance names and logos

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Ortho Loess
The Legion of Spoon
Curatores Veritatis Alliance
#1 - 2014-02-12 21:45:17 UTC  |  Edited by: Ortho Loess
Alison Soloman - CCP Lawyer wrote:
“Alliance names and logos, and all the intellectual property rights arising from them, belong to CCP, not to the individual or the Alliance who submitted the name and/or logo to CCP for use in EVE.”

Six weeks ago we got an email from Cafepress informing us that CCP had made a copyright claim against our logo, which had been uploaded with the intent of making VOLT T-Shirts and the like available for members.

We weren’t happy about this, CCP have clearly not had a problem with people doing it before (ref: all the PL logos they’ve shown on AT streams!) and we consider the VOLT logo to be ours, not the property of CCP.

We looked up the relevant sections in the EULA and ToS and they do indeed claim ownership of pretty much everything.

EULA wrote:
You hereby irrevocably and without additional consideration beyond the rights granted to you herein, assign to CCP any and all right, title and interest you have, including copyrights, in or to any and all information you exchange, transmit or upload to the System or while playing the Game, including without limitation all files, data and information comprising or manifesting corporations, groups, titles, characters and other attributes of your Account, together with all objects and items acquired or developed by, or delivered by or to characters, in your Account.

There are a few holes in their arguments that may be of help to others with similar problems:


  • The owner of the copyright on the logo did not submit it to CCP, so the person who did was not in a position to transfer ownership.
  • The logo was not uploaded or transmitted to the system by a VOLT memebr, it was emailed to a CCP staff member, who checked it, presumably edited it a bit and then uploaded it into the client.
  • The submission process at the time required that the logo have a grey background, therefore a derivative of our primary logo was made to meet this requirement. This is the one they were sent.


Any one of those is sufficient to negate their claim to own our main logo (with a white or clear background) and any derivatives we make of it (such as the ones with the alliance name on too).
In addition to the emails between us and the CCP lawyer (which we can publish since they are not private correspondence), there have so far been 11 emails back and forth between us and CCP Falcon (EVE Online Community Manager) which cannot be published without permission. We have asked for permission, but as yet, Falcon has refused.

The lawyer has not at any point been helpful, except to "allow us to use" our own logo at cafepress, and has primarily focussed on ignoring what we say, and making more and more ridiculous claims. The latest being the one at the top of this post. We replied with the points I made above, and are awaiting a reply. We also pointed out that since The Volition Cult has been using that name (including on our website) for the greater community, outside of EVE, since before the alliance was founded, there is no way that CCP can own the name either.

CCP Falcon was initially helpful, but ended up just reiterating that we don’t own our logo or name.

Basically, CCP are trying to steal our intellectual property from us, and bully us into letting them.

To make sure that this cannot happen in the future we have released the VOLT logo, in all current forms (except the one we uploaded to CCP) under a Creative Commons license. We encourage others to do the same: http://volt.vc/2014/02/12/volition-cult-logo-released-under-creative-commons/

Guard your intellectual property!


Further reading:
The most objectionable email from CCP lawyers
Our response
Pinky Hops
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#2 - 2014-02-12 21:48:03 UTC  |  Edited by: Pinky Hops
Legally, they have little grounds to do anything based on a ToS.

For instance, if I made a corporation named Skittles, does CCP gets to sue Skittles for the copyright?

Sure - but it would be a waste of their time/money.

You're going to have to lawyer up if you want to protect yourself (or open source it like you did). It sucks CCP is going this route -- everybody loses.

Copyright is won/lost often by games of intimidation. The second it goes to court, CCP will likely drop the case.

It works both ways though. If you DON'T protect it from CCP - they win it by default.
Pinky Hops
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#3 - 2014-02-12 21:53:21 UTC
Also, you might want to fix your links.

In one of them, you literally dox'd a CCP employee.
Batelle
Filthy Peasants
#4 - 2014-02-12 21:54:12 UTC  |  Edited by: Batelle
Interesting.

Good luck fighting for your rights. Institutions getting grabby with other people's IP is wrong.

I think that for PR reasons alone, CCP cannot really bring a suit here. Continue to call their bluff. The worst they can do is take away your in-game logo, and that will certainly **** a lot of people off.

The vendor you have creating and selling the shirts may not feel the same way however, so you may need to find a different option regardless.

I'd love to see what rule is cited if/when this gets a lock. At the very least, putting this thread here brings the issue up amongst other devs at CCP.

"**CCP is changing policy, and has asked that we discontinue the bonus credit program after November 7th. So until then, enjoy a super-bonus of 1B Blink Credit for each 60-day GTC you buy!"**

Never forget.

Kuronaga
Fatal Absolution
#5 - 2014-02-12 21:55:20 UTC
EULA is a deterrent, not a contract.

All it can really do is scare people.
Mag's
Azn Empire
#6 - 2014-02-12 22:00:12 UTC
Doesn't that mail say it was an error and they want you to use those logos?

Destination SkillQueue:- It's like assuming the Lions will ignore you in the Savannah, if you're small, fat and look helpless.

Mallak Azaria
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#7 - 2014-02-12 22:00:16 UTC
The mistake you made was not trademarking it like Sturmgrenadier does with their things, but that costs money.

This post was lovingly crafted by a member of the Goonwaffe Posting Cabal, proud member of the popular gay hookup site somethingawful.com, Spelling Bee, Grammar Gestapo & #1 Official Gevlon Goblin Fanclub member.

Ace Echo
The Shadow Raiders
#8 - 2014-02-12 22:02:57 UTC
In this case, I'd recommend performing a legal practice very common in america, and go to the media.

If you can milk it, it's an udder.

Barbara Nichole
Cryogenic Consultancy
#9 - 2014-02-12 22:03:23 UTC
This is going to create a serious problem if ccp start imposing this as a hard rule... why? because many of the logos and names used in game were taken from other games or even real companies.. you cannot slam others for infringment on a draconian rule without expecting reciprocation.

  - remove the cloaked from local; free intel is the real problem, not  "afk" cloaking -

[IMG]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a208/DawnFrostbringer/consultsig.jpg[/IMG]

Batelle
Filthy Peasants
#10 - 2014-02-12 22:03:33 UTC  |  Edited by: Batelle
Also, I just read that email. Its not as bad as you make it sound.

Quote:
For now, Volition Cult may resume selling goods on CafePress that include only the Volition Cult name and approved logo. Please do not include "EVE" or "CCP" on any item for sale and watch for future guidance and a Dev Blog on the issue....


Did your original shirts include "EVE" or "CCP?"

Obviously they're not going to disavow their claim of ownership in a broad way. As TVC just wants some shirts, and as CCP is probably not going to start marketing using what TVC claims as its own IP, you can both agree to disagree and let this whole thing die.

That would be the mature course of action at least. It seems like you got what you wanted but decided to make a stink about it anyway. I am sympathetic though, I'm guessing PL didn't get a C&D letter for making their shirts.

"**CCP is changing policy, and has asked that we discontinue the bonus credit program after November 7th. So until then, enjoy a super-bonus of 1B Blink Credit for each 60-day GTC you buy!"**

Never forget.

Abyss Azizora
Viziam
Amarr Empire
#11 - 2014-02-12 22:12:13 UTC
Good for you on fighting back. I must admit, it's a nice logo. If you decide to make this into a legal dispute I'd be interested in how it turns out. I know you'd have the considerable legal advantage, but likely not the financial advantage.
Kaarous Aldurald
Black Hydra Consortium.
#12 - 2014-02-12 22:12:57 UTC
The implications of this in regards to Chribba's tattoo are both disturbing and hilarious.

"Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws."

One of ours, ten of theirs.

Best Meltdown Ever.

Pinky Hops
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#13 - 2014-02-12 22:15:01 UTC  |  Edited by: Pinky Hops
Batelle wrote:
Also, I just read that email. Its not as bad as you make it sound.

Quote:
For now, Volition Cult may resume selling goods on CafePress that include only the Volition Cult name and approved logo. Please do not include "EVE" or "CCP" on any item for sale and watch for future guidance and a Dev Blog on the issue....


Did your original shirts include "EVE" or "CCP?"

Obviously they're not going to disavow their claim of ownership in a broad way. As TVC just wants some shirts, and as CCP is probably not going to start marketing using what TVC claims as its own IP, you can both agree to disagree and let this whole thing die.

That would be the mature course of action at least. It seems like you got what you wanted but decided to make a stink about it anyway. I am sympathetic though, I'm guessing PL didn't get a C&D letter for making their shirts.


It's still pretty bad. The e-mail says they can do it, but only to "support their in-game play" - eg buy PLEX, eg it's the same as before. CCP wants it all.
Infinity Ziona
Sebiestor Tribe
Minmatar Republic
#14 - 2014-02-12 22:15:13 UTC
This is probably something you should be speaking directly to CCP about.

CCP Fozzie “We can see how much money people are making in nullsec and it is, a gigantic amount, a shit-ton… in null sec anomalies. “*

Kaalrus pwned..... :)

Ortho Loess
The Legion of Spoon
Curatores Veritatis Alliance
#15 - 2014-02-12 22:15:20 UTC
Batelle wrote:
Also, I just read that email. Its not as bad as you make it sound.

Quote:
For now, Volition Cult may resume selling goods on CafePress that include only the Volition Cult name and approved logo. Please do not include "EVE" or "CCP" on any item for sale and watch for future guidance and a Dev Blog on the issue....


Did your original shirts include "EVE" or "CCP?"

Obviously they're not going to disavow their claim of ownership in a broad way. As TVC just wants some shirts, and as CCP is probably not going to start marketing using what TVC claims as its own IP, you can both agree to disagree and let this whole thing die.

That would be the mature course of action at least. It seems like you got what you wanted but decided to make a stink about it anyway. I am sympathetic though, I'm guessing PL didn't get a C&D letter for making their shirts.


You're half right.

The shirts did not say EVE on, nor have any logos or branding other than our own. They were tagged in teh store with "eve" to make them easier for our members to find.

We did essentially solve the immediate problem, although almost 2 months on from the original take down, the shirts on cafepress are still in the "pending" state and can't be purchased.

However, along with saying that we could use the logo, they again asserted ownership, making NO answer to the points about them not owning it and added the claim to ownership of the name.

We don't want to just be given permission to use our own logo, we want CCP to stop trying to steal it.
Pinky Hops
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#16 - 2014-02-12 22:21:44 UTC
Ortho Loess wrote:
We don't want to just be given permission to use our own logo, we want CCP to stop trying to steal it.


Easiest way to do this would be to start producing the goods either yourself or from a venue besides cafepress that is a bit more resilient.

That would put the burden on CCP to literally sue you if they wanted it that badly.

And CCP would lose, so they probably won't sue.

They're just blocking it from cafepress basically because they know cafepress will buckle under anything remotely "contested."
Batelle
Filthy Peasants
#17 - 2014-02-12 22:21:48 UTC  |  Edited by: Batelle
Pinky Hops wrote:

It's still pretty bad. The e-mail says they can do it, but only to "support their in-game play" - eg buy PLEX, eg it's the same as before. CCP wants it all.


They're not asking for a cut, therefore whatever the lawyer says they can use the money for (to support in-game play or whatever) is completely throw-away. This is as much of a go-ahead as you should expect from their counsel.
Ortho Loess wrote:

You're half right.

The shirts did not say EVE on, nor have any logos or branding other than our own. They were tagged in teh store with "eve" to make them easier for our members to find.

We did essentially solve the immediate problem, although almost 2 months on from the original take down, the shirts on cafepress are still in the "pending" state and can't be purchased.

However, along with saying that we could use the logo, they again asserted ownership, making NO answer to the points about them not owning it and added the claim to ownership of the name.

We don't want to just be given permission to use our own logo, we want CCP to stop trying to steal it.


I fully appreciate that this is a huge pain in the ass and terrible experience for you, and that you still haven't been able to get your shirts. That said, it is frankly quite crappy to imply by omission that they are still blocking CafePress. You should update your OP to include this.

I also fully agree on the principle of the matter, but again, as long as they aren't taking substantive action, or using your stuff without permission, its just a bunch of smoke.

"**CCP is changing policy, and has asked that we discontinue the bonus credit program after November 7th. So until then, enjoy a super-bonus of 1B Blink Credit for each 60-day GTC you buy!"**

Never forget.

Ortho Loess
The Legion of Spoon
Curatores Veritatis Alliance
#18 - 2014-02-12 22:28:21 UTC
Batelle wrote:
I fully appreciate that this is a huge pain in the ass and terrible experience for you, and that you still haven't been able to get your shirts. That said, it is frankly quite crappy to imply by omission that they are still blocking CafePress. You should update your OP to include this.

I also fully agree on the principle of the matter, but again, as long as they aren't taking substantive action, or using your stuff without permission, its just a bunch of smoke.

I've updated the OP as you suggest, you do have a point there.

I disagree that we should just let it be and hope they don't do anything in the future.

This isn't a logo we use just for EVE, it's used for other games and our wider community. If we don't defend our ownership now, it becomes much harder to in the future. Also, we've released it under CC, but due to the dates, this only works if we own it. Therefore, we have to assert ownership as part of releasing under CC.
Rabid Disconnection
Prism's Keepers
#19 - 2014-02-12 22:29:40 UTC
Ortho Loess wrote:


We don't want to just be given permission to use our own logo, we want CCP to stop trying to steal it.


This is likely a reason that EVE is one of the few games where members of the community can add art assets. A real slippery slope.
Ptraci
3 R Corporation
#20 - 2014-02-12 22:30:50 UTC
Pinky Hops wrote:
Legally, they have little grounds to do anything based on a ToS.

For instance, if I made a corporation named Skittles, does CCP gets to sue Skittles for the copyright?

Sure - but it would be a waste of their time/money.

You're going to have to lawyer up if you want to protect yourself (or open source it like you did). It sucks CCP is going this route -- everybody loses.

Copyright is won/lost often by games of intimidation. The second it goes to court, CCP will likely drop the case.

It works both ways though. If you DON'T protect it from CCP - they win it by default.



Copyright and trademarks are not the same thing. Skittles is a trademark.
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