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Old 07-26-2017, 08:58 PM   #1
ColBosch
 
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Default Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

First, here's a video explaining a bit about what's going on. I provided SidAlpha with a good deal of the backstory, so any errors are likely my own:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLtlynQrG6c

Since that video was made, more information has become public, mainly Harmony Gold's amended complaint that added more artwork and roped in InMediaRes (the parent company of Catalyst Game Labs, current publishers of tabletop BattleTech), plus the responses from Piranha Games and Harebrained Schemes. Here's a link to the case documents:

https://www.unitedstatescourts.org/federal/wawd/242820/

Of particular interest are items 25, 31, and 38, which are (respectively) Piranha's response, Harmony Gold's amended complaint, and Harebrained's response. I am not a lawyer, so I am posting this without commentary for public interest.

Update 16 AUG 2017:

Leonard French's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPou5WuE-Y4

Update 24 NOV 2017:

SidAlpha's update video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3Z3...&feature=share

Update 21 JUN 2018:

The last filing, ending the case: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hIA...TMuwoIn3g/view
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

I think I saw somewhere between the lines in one of the complaints or answers [did Leonard French do a piece on it yet? Surprised to see another SidAlpha viewer around these parts, good stuff!] that the only reason Jordan/et al haven't nailed HG to the wall for these repeated shenanigans is that their very first settlement included a "No raising a stink with the Japanese company that licensed to HG to get them to revoke the same on grounds of HG's misbehavior" clause.

Given the last time [HG vs S&T, over then-Mechwarrior 5, now-MWO] they got thrown out of court on grounds of "No, you cannot refuse an attempt to make them whole in order to sue for higher damages...take your licensing fees and GTFO of my courtroom", I look forward to this judge slapping some sense into them at the end of a gavel this time too.
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

I always thought it was weird that FASA reused and renamed all those disparate anime mecha rather than just having original designs from the beginning.
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Old 08-03-2017, 07:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
I always thought it was weird that FASA reused and renamed all those disparate anime mecha rather than just having original designs from the beginning.
There's a decent chance FASA in 1984 wasn't all that sophisticated about that kind of stuff (looks like they were a two-man operation at that time).
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Old 08-03-2017, 08:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
There's a decent chance FASA in 1984 wasn't all that sophisticated about that kind of stuff (looks like they were a two-man operation at that time).
I was nine, so there's a decent chance I wasn't either, but I still thought it was weird.
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
There's a decent chance FASA in 1984 wasn't all that sophisticated about that kind of stuff (looks like they were a two-man operation at that time).
Nobody had any idea that Japanese animation would become anywhere as popular in the United States as it did. (Of course, this was in large part thanks to Robotech itself.) For years various American companies had licensed toys and model kits from Japanese creators and given them new stories, such as Hasbro's Transformers and Revell's Robotech Defenders (Harmony Gold actually took over that copyright; the name predates the revamped animated series). Trans-Pacific copyright law is convoluted, to say the least.

As for Smith & Tinker's MechWarrior 5 project, all I have found on that was that HG hit IGN with a cease-and-desist to remove the tech demo video. S&T had really just meant that video to attract investors, and ultimately failed, setting the stage for Piranha Games to step in and develop MechWarrior Online. I don't think it ever went to court. If it did, I'd love a link to the actual court documents.
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

Oh, and I did email Leonard French about this, but he has not gotten back to me. I'll try again in a couple of days. I'd love to see insight from an actual copyright attorney on this matter.
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Old 08-04-2017, 12:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

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Originally Posted by ColBosch View Post
Nobody had any idea that Japanese animation would become anywhere as popular in the United States as it did. (Of course, this was in large part thanks to Robotech itself.) For years various American companies had licensed toys and model kits from Japanese creators and given them new stories, such as Hasbro's Transformers and Revell's Robotech Defenders (Harmony Gold actually took over that copyright; the name predates the revamped animated series). Trans-Pacific copyright law is convoluted, to say the least.

As for Smith & Tinker's MechWarrior 5 project, all I have found on that was that HG hit IGN with a cease-and-desist to remove the tech demo video. S&T had really just meant that video to attract investors, and ultimately failed, setting the stage for Piranha Games to step in and develop MechWarrior Online. I don't think it ever went to court. If it did, I'd love a link to the actual court documents.
I'm finding countless stories about them raising the initial stink [circa 2009], but records of the "Take your licensing fee and GTFO, you're wasting my time" moment are hard to come by. I'll keep looking.
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Old 08-08-2017, 06:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

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Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
I always thought it was weird that FASA reused and renamed all those disparate anime mecha rather than just having original designs from the beginning.
If memory serves, I was a teen at the time, there was a major mess on the licensing of the mecha involved. The creators of the anime licensed another company to sell toys and models overseas. When the toys and models got the US different distributors thought the rights to the toys meant rights to the images of the mecha. The Macross mecha used for Battletech 2e were an even more extreme example as one company had the rights to the final video product (who then licensed it to HG and it became gen 1 of Robotech and the Movie got turned into Clash of the Bionoids). Another had the rights to the story, and a third had the rights to the toy and model distribution. The one with the toy rights sold the toys several different ways. The armored VF-1S red and black version had an autobot symbol added and was brought over as Transformers G1 Jetfire. Models from Macross and Crusher Joe were sold as a Robotech Defenders Line that also got a two issue limited series from DC. Fasa had, or thought they had, the rights to use the images and miniatures based on them for Battletech which was a lot cheaper than hiring a graphic designer to come up with new designs in house. That had to wait till they'd made enough money on the game to afford doing it themselves. Harmony Gold bought the rights to the Robotech name along with the video from Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospedia to make the Robotech T.V. Series.
While all this was going on the folks in Japan who owned the story rights to Macross started making several sequels as movies and series. They then tried to sell the overseas distribution of those stories and ran into trouble with Harmony Gold. HG asserted in court that when they got the exclusive rights to the Macross series they also had the right to anything created as a spin off or sequel (despite the fact that Japanese courts had ruled that company they did business with only had rights to the first Macross). series/movie). To further their cause, and due to the nature of US IP law they began aggressively going after anyone doing anything Macross related however loosely. This included joining with the studio behind a totally unrelated cartoon Exo-squad to do a line of Robotech Exo-squad toys (Macross and Mospedia mecha who's inclusion in the toy line made no sense from a story standpoint for either series) so they could join in a court battle with FASA who claimed that Exo-squad was a result of their pitching a Battletech cartoon to that studio. The result was a court ruling all of the mechs in the Battletech 2e and most from Citytech 1e and the LAM's from Aerotech 1e belonged to HG in spite of the rights Fasa got from the toy and model company.
This is why all those mechs were relegated to the status of Unseen in Battletech until Project Phoenix came up with altered versions that they could sell. This is also why you can't find non bootleg copies of any of the later Macross movies and series anywhere Robotech was distributed. Except Macross 2 and Macross plus that sliped in before all the court mess.
Mind you this is all based on my recollection of reading about the events as they happened and may contain some misinformation.
Now it looks like Harmony Gold is trying to assert that their ownership of Macross, Southern Cross and Mospedia means they own the entire idea of human piloted mecha. Despite the fact that they aren't doing anything new with what they have since Shadow Chronicles bombed and their are multiple examples of others using the same idea both before and after.
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Old 08-09-2017, 03:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech, Round N

That is the commonly-accepted series of events, but there are important details that either have only recently come to light or are still obfuscated. It's why I'm trying to avoid speculation.
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