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The Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)
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Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

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Games Workshop's latest...

... stupidity is probably already known to everyone on my lists, as it's been reported widely, but in short, they're trying to enforce a trademark claim on the term "Space Marine" used in titles of books. While this is small potatoes next to all the real problems of the world, this has sufficiently annoyed me that I have written Games Workshop directly; the following is the text of said letter.

    It has come to my attention that Games Workshop is attempting to enforce a trademark on the phrase "Space Marine", specifically on titles of books, and currently doing so against an independent author who is not supplied with resources to challenge the legality of this claim.

    I am a long-term gamer, SF reader, and SF/F author, and I find this a ludicrous, and offensive, action on the part of Games Workshop. The term "Space Marine" has a long provenance in science fiction, going back to at least E. E. "Doc" Smith's "Lensman" series (VanBuskirk, one of the main characters in the early Lensman series, was a space marine, stated to be such, and led companies of armored space marines in combat).

    In addition, even within the GAMING field, the term "Space Marine" has not only been previously used, but was used in the title of a gaming product -- "Space Marines", first issued by FanTac in 1977 and later by FGU in 1980 (and the latter version tied into their larger Space Opera universe). It is quite clear that such a trademark should never have been granted, as it is a long-standing term of art in the SF/Space opera field, and an obvious one at that.

    Several modern SF series incorporate Space Marines -- those by David Weber and Elizabeth Moon, for example -- and there is no reason, nor justification, for anyone to say they could not choose to use those words as part of the title of a forthcoming book.

    I will be advising all of my gaming friends to not purchase any GW products and to avoid all associated games until such time as you appear to come to your senses. If this course of action is continued, I will contact all the other authors who may have an interest in this situation, and organizations such as SFWA, to address it in a more legal fashion.

    I hope that your legal department will recognize this is a stupid, short-sighted, and ultimately self-destructive tactic on their part and leave other authors alone.


                    Ryk E. Spoor
                    3 Glenwood Road
                    Troy, NY 12180
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