In mid-December, Games Workshop told Amazon that I’d infringed on the trademark they’ve claimed for the term “space marine” by titling my original fiction novel Spots the Space Marine. In response, Amazon blocked the e-book from sale. Since then, I’ve been in discussion with Games Workshop, and following their responses, with several lawyers.
In their last email to me, Games Workshop stated that they believe that their recent entry into the e-book market gives them the common law trademark for the term “space marine” in all formats. If they choose to proceed on that belief, science fiction will lose a term that’s been a part of its canon since its inception. Space marines were around long before Games Workshop. But if GW has their way, in the future, no one will be able to use the term “space marine” without it referring to the space marines of the Warhammer 40K universe.
I understand being proactive about protecting your trademark, but they’re not even claiming the “space marine” mark just for games—they’re claiming it for all fiction. On our planet, this term has been in use since 1932. My suspicion is that this boils down to Games Workshop betting that no one—not just Hogarth—will consider it worth the investment to engage a trademark attorney and start a cancellation proceeding.
Also, that it boils down to Games Workshop being dicks.
I hear they have that trademarked.