Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More on the Harmony Gold fracas..or "The Perils of IP trolling".

As Sarna.net has already reported, it seems an earlier arbitration has come back to bite Harmony Gold. It seems that Piranha Games, who own the IP to MechWarrior Online, have moved to dismiss the case.

To quote the article from Sarna.net, Piranha Games is going for dismissal on three separate grounds:
  1. Harmony Gold does not own the copyrights for the Unseen ‘Mechs. Those copyrights are actually   owned by a Japanese company called Big West Co. Ltd., a company I have literally never heard of.
  2. The Unseen copyrights were never licensed to Harmony Gold, and the licensing agreement actually excludes the copyrights they’re suing over. Which, by the way, they never owned in the first place since Harmony Gold licensed from Tatsunoko, not Big West.
  3. And here’s the big deal, and should be the nail in Harmony Gold’s coffin. That arbitration that took place between Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko in US District Court found a judgment that shows Harmony Gold officially does not have the license to the copyrights they’re trying to sue over. 
Let's look at each of these in turn: First, while Sarna might not know who Big West is, anyone who's followed the Unseen has. It's a minor point really, but the fact remains, Big West has had rights to the images since 1985 when Robotech and Battletech first came into being. That is a big development, and makes a lot of us who have been following this mess go "hmm"...to say the least.

Point two, It seems Harmony Gold got taken for a ride back in 1985 when Tatsunoko misrepresented the fact that they owned the copyrights to said images, hence them suing Tatsunoko, but in a case of "winning the battle, but losing the war," it seems while that was a somewhat favorable arbitration, they a) exposed the fact they never had title to the images in the first place, and b) undermined their entire case against Piranha et al.

Which leads us into Point 3. The arbitration basically left Harmony Gold with ashes in their mouths. They have no standing, no title to the disputed images and at this rate, are wasting the court's time. What might be a fun nail in the coffin if I were IMR's attorneys? Compel Harmony Gold to produce a copy of the original 1995 FASA vs. Harmony Gold Settlement, then sue on the basis Harmony Gold misrepresented their standing, and then petition the judge to hand down a summary decision hanging Harmony Gold for the court costs of ALL the defendants involved in the case. That would fix Harmony Gold's wagon, but good.

So, how does this end? Hard to say, court cases are unpredictable. But that said, it's a pretty good chance that as I reported earlier, that arbitration was pretty fatal to Harmony Gold's suit and has done little but put their own survival as a company in jeopardy. Furthermore, this, like a stone in a pond, is going to have far reaching effects, like the Robotech Tactics Kickstarter mess going on right now, if Harmony Gold doesn't have rights to the images, and the Japanese license holders don't like what's going on with said Kickstarter? Yeah you can do the math.

So, things look good for Battletech and it's champions overall, but till the gavel is swung, do not count on anything!

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