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for a while now there has been a lot of noise about a trademark dispute involving a game called EDGE for the IPHONE and an upstanding individual named tim langdell who has a game company named "edge games" trademarked. before i proceed any further let us meet the one of the greatest men of this era:

Doctor Tim Langdell, Member of IGDA Board of Directors

the information regarding the dispute has been fairly scattered, but recently eurogamer and tigsource have compiled some excellent information on him. from the eurogame article on professor langdell regarding this dispute:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/the-edge-of-reason (this is an excellent article and anyone who cares about producing indie games needs to read this)

if you are extremely lazy i have cut up the article and bolded the most important parts:

Eight months ago David Papazian was on top of the world. His company, Mobigame, had just released its first videogame for the iPhone. In the space of just a few weeks it had won two prestigious awards. The past two years of early mornings, late nights and tireless endeavour were set to pay off; the sacrifices had been worth it, the indie developer dream was coming true.

Today, he sits dejected and worn. Banned in the UK, USA and Germany, his game may be critically acclaimed but, for most, it is also impossible to buy. On 15th July, 2009, just one week after Apple nominated Mobigame's debut title as one of their 'Top 30 Favourite iPhone Games', it was removed from the App Store. Not because it's unfinished, or because it might damage your hardware, nor any of the usual reasons that software is removed from sale. Rather, it's banned because of its name: Edge.


From Namco's PlayStation release Soul Edge (which had its name changed to Soul Blade for the West) to Sony's PlayStation Edge to the UK's own Edge magazine, Langdell confronted anyone who used his trademark in relation to videogames. In every case the message was clear: change the name of your product, pay us a licence fee or face a court hearing. Some paid the fee quietly. Others, faced with legal threats that they believed were dubious, turned the tables and instead took The Edge to court. No matter what the outcome of these cases, Langdell's energy in protecting his trademark never faltered, even if the trickle of games that bore the name had long since dried up.


But not everyone shared in the celebration. On 7th April, 2009, five months after its release, Papazian received an email from Apple. It stated: "We have received notice from Edge Games, Inc. ('Edge') that Edge believes your application named Edge infringes Edge's rights. Accordingly, please take steps to review your application to ensure that it does not violate the rights of another party."


Papazian emailed Langdell directly, hoping to work through the issue amicably. On the 22nd April he wrote: "We chose the name Edge because it reflects the game's style: the cube you navigate through levels is always hanging on the edge. I did not know about your company or your games before. Please believe me that we did not intend to pass our game off as one of yours in any way."

Later that same day, Langdell responded, first assuring Papazian of his support of independent developers, before stating, forcefully, the need for financial resolution. "I am a strong supporter of innovation in games," he wrote. "It is not our intention to do anything other than encourage originality in games and to encourage new game makers. But the problem is that using the trademark 'EDGE' for a game is a direct infringement of our international rights. We have spent a lot of time (and a large amount of money) stopping everyone who tries to use the mark EDGE [for a] game. You wouldn't think of using 'Activision' as the name of a game would you? Even though there has never been a game called Activision. Or 'Electronic Arts' or 'Nintendo'? No, all these names are so closely associated with the name of the company, you would not be permitted to use them for a game without the express permission of the trademark owner... It is the same with EDGE."


"As to how original...your game is," Langdell wrote. "I have to differ with you. I think it is a nice game, well programmed, but it plays almost the same as many of our early games for which we are famous such as 'BOBBY BEARING'. Whereas in Bobby Bearing you play a ball rather than a cube, much of the game is rolling around looking for switches that move blocks so that you can get to the next section, or looking for objects you must roll over to get points... Indeed, we have been flooded with communications from people who think your game is made by us because we are so famous for our 1980s games which look almost exactly the same as your."


He offered Papazian two ways out: "One: change the name of your game to something that does not contain the word EDGE in it within the next 7 calendar days. Two: License the right to use the trademark 'EDGE' from us."


"If you decide to take option 1, then we would need payment for your use of the trademark to the day you change the name. We propose 25 per cent of the revenues you have received from the game to the day you stop using our mark. If you decide to take option 2, then [you would need to add] a subtitle such as "EDGE: An Homage to Bobby Bearing" and to add our company name (EDGE Games Inc) immediately below yours in the opening screen."

if you can spot the difference between bobby bearing and edge i will show you a green dog.

Understandably, Papazian didn't respond immediately. He needed time to weigh these options, to seek legal counsel, to find out whether this nightmare was in fact an immovable reality. 24 hours later, having had no response from Papazian, Langdell piled on the pressure: "We had hoped to see your reply by this time today," he wrote. "Will we be receiving it? Or will we be filing the court actions in the US and UK? Please advise."


I ask Langdell to name three of The Edge's commercially released games from the past five years. He replies: "Edge has focused on developing mobile games in the past few years, with Bobby Bearing for a wide range of mobile handsets being a consistent good seller in the UK, Europe and America (three new versions of it in 2008, one new version earlier this year and the iPhone 'Remix' version about to be launched)." Other than this 30-year-old re-release, Langdell does not mention a single other commercially available game he has published in the past decade, despite my repeated asking.


I ask Langdell what would have to change for Mobigames to be able to once again offer the game for sale in the UK and US. "Edge has not retracted the settlement offer it made to Mobigame in early June for it to rename its game to EDGY (or such other new name that Edge and Mobigame can agree does not infringe Edge's trademark rights) and remains hopeful Mobigame will eventually respond to it so that Mobigame's game can once again go on sale."

When I ask Papazian about the proposed name change to EDGY he is quick to point out that this was something he suggested earlier in the year but that, at the time, Langdell flatly refused the offer. He sends me Langdell's email response to Mobigame's offer to change the name of their game to EDGY, sent on the 15th May: "[We] would very strongly oppose your use of EDGY which is clearly just adding the 'y' sound to the end of our famous trademark EDGE," Landgell wrote. "In fact, we won a case against someone who tried to use EDGY so we are confident we would win should you try to do that. You need to stop infringing our trademark EDGE and select an entirely different [original emphasis] name for your game which does not even suggest our trademark."

On the 16th May, the following day The Edge moved to register EDGY as a trademark in America. I press Langdell on the EDGY issue. He writes: "No proposal we have ever made to Mobigame regarding their changing the name of the game to EDGY has involved their paying us a licence [fee], or paying us any money at all."

But, if you had no intention of asking for licence fee to be paid to you for the use of EDGY, I ask, then why trademark the name the day after Mobigames first proposed the name change? "In hindsight it was a misunderstanding, probably in part caused by David Papazian's less than perfect English," he explains. "But at the point we were discussing the EDGY settlement in May we understood Mobigame was in agreement Edge would technically hold the EDGY registration and Mobigame would license it from us for free. This way Edge could use its legal team to protect Mobigame should anyone ever challenge Mobigame's use of EDGY".

This version of events is certainly not born out by the original emails. But besides that, why would The Edge want to protect an unrelated company for no recompense? Out of the goodness of their hearts? That seems unlikely, especially coming from a company run with Langdell's cutthroat business savvy.

the tigsource page:


a great screenshot from tim "the edge" langdell's site. by no means would he ever fabricate a game called "mirrors (by edge)" in an attempt to extort money from the fairly recent PS3 game mirrors edge. this is simply not possible and would never enter the mind of tim langdell (a.k.a. sexy_edge_2k6 on XBL).

going back to the earlier fact he is on the IGDA Board of Directors, we can safely assume the best interests of all independent game developers are taken into account. even though i've never heard of the IGDA until the tim langdell saga against trademark infringement, knowing that "the edgeman" tim langdell is on board assures everyone of the quality of the organization.

as you can see tim langdell is a pioneer in video game development yet no one knows of the depth of his work towards the gaming community. it is my recommendation that he be referred to as "s.c.u.m. of the earth" (super cool upstanding man of the earth) in recognition of his contributions to gamerkind and humanity as a whole.


a legal support fund has been set-up for mobigame, the developer of the game edge. you can donate here: