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Harmony Gold: Battletech Lawsuit


enoofu
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Currently.

Harebrained Schemes (Upcoming Battletech computer game maker), Jordan Weisman, Pirahna Games (the creator of MechWarrior Online) are being sued by Harmony Gold on copyright grounds do to Mecha (Giant Robots) designs looking similar to Robotech designs. Since this court case could effect Battletech, MechWarrior Online and also may impact future games using mecha such as the original Transformers G1, I will try to keep this tread up to date.

 

This originally was caused by Tatsunoko a Japanese company which over licenced the original Macross designs to multiple parties during the 1980's on shaky legal grounds. After a legal suit filed by Harmony Gold in the 90's against FASA (Battletech/Mechwarrior IP Owner), 12 Mecha were removed from the Battletech Universe which were then redesign around 2013 so they would look original.

Harmony Gold didn't like the redesigns which were also transferred to Harebrained Schemes for Battletech which should be released around 2018

 

Currently this case is in the early stages

 

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Court dockets can be found here

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https://dockets.justia.com/docket/washington/wawdce/2:2017cv00327/242820

https://www.unitedstatescourts.org/federal/wawd/242820/1-0.html

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Overview of the case so far from Pennsylvania licensed Lawyer Leonard J. French, Esq.

 

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Prior Legal fights

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Macross World has document some of the prior lawsuits on the Macross IP Legal battles as the 3 (Big West, Tatsunoko, Studio Nue ) owners of the Original Macoss took it to court on ownership rights

http://www.macrossworld.com/mwf/topic/36541-concerning-harmony-gold-and-robotech/

 

Case relates to prior cases including FASA CORPORATION and Virtual World Entertainment, Plaintiffs, v. PLAYMATES TOYS, INC., Defendant.

Also HARMONY GOLD U.S.A., INC., a corporation, and PLAYMATES TOYS, INC., a corporation, Plaintiffs, v. FASA CORPORATION, a corporation, and VIRTUAL WORLD ENTERTAINMENT, a corporation, Defendants. which was settled in 1997

 

Here is a posting with the original legal briefs

https://www.eyrie.org/~robotech/hg-fasa/

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IT seems like Harmony Gold is borderline design trolling, and this is coming from a Robotech fan from the 80s and not one who ever cared much for FASA stuff and only really enjoyed much the first two Mech Warrior titles. They are similar yes, but not ripoff models of the original stuff that HG owns. There's plenty of things in the world where you have clones that are quite close but don't get lawsuits because it's clear to anyone they're independent properties. While the old Robotech models were closer to the FASA stuff from the 90s, this stuff now there's some distinct similarities but differences too. Might as well have Coca Cola sue Pepsi for making a chemical knockoff cola of the brew and demanding a fee for each serving of it sold which in turn would then entitled Coke to require anyone else making 'cola' to give them a cut which is and should be seen as bs. I recall Battletech and MechWarrior in the late 80s/earlier 90s lived side by side and looked similar, but you didn't see either party trying to steal money from the other.

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A lot of the issues were caused by Studio Nue and Tatsunoko which licensed out the models to a bunch of 3rd parties.

It one reason that Big West, Tatsunoko, and Studio Nue got into a nasty legal battle over ownership, and what assets each partner actually owns and controls.

 

Studio Nue for example used some of the models in making Transformers as they designed the Diaclone Toy line.

Tatsunoko licensed out the same models to both Harmony Gold/Robotech and a Japanese Miniature toy company that then sold them to FASA (Battletech/Mechwarrior)

 

FASA thought they had valid copyrights so that why the 90's designs were copies of Macross/Robotech, it's also the reason why the Judge in (FASA v. PLAYMATES TOYS) didn't make FASA pay the legal bills of PLAYMATES TOYS since they acted on Good Faith

 

2013 Redesigns were drastic changes to the models in a attempt to resolve those issues for the Battletech/Mechwarrior Universe

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Most of the Harmony Gold hate is focused on their wild claims on Controlling the entire IP of Macross and Trademark trolling Studio Nue which released a lot of new anime and games over the years on the expanding Macross universe.

 

Those actions tanked their Kickstarter

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1381502542/robotech-academy?ref=discovery

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That makes a good bit of sense. Listening to that lawyer go over the whole case file as it exists and breaking it down with the imagery I can see where someone who doesn't pay very good attention could be suckered into thinking some robots were a ripoff, but if you look at them well side by side there's clear differences with every model. In some cases you could also argue how could one make them all that different like (I think it's the Spartan) where the hands are two tank barrels, or the other general one with the missile rack on top. Stuff like those parts are so common it's hard to say someone intentionally scammed a copy to rip them off. it would be like competing US military companies suing each other because both make tanks and both have a 75mm barrel. Oh noes! :D

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Battletech hasn't used the Macross and Dougram and whatever other Tatsunoko designs in many a year. This seems pretty shady.

 

 

Alright; after watching the video, I would say some of the new mech redesigns do look fairly derivative. I will absolutely admit my strong bias against HG, but they may have a point. I do remember when they made substantial changes to the FASA games (to remove the Tatsunoko / Studio The designs), and there have been several Battle tech / Mechwarrior video games since the early nineties which seem to have been okay.

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Battletech hasn't used the Macross and Dougram and whatever other Tatsunoko designs in many a year. This seems pretty shady.

 

 

Alright; after watching the video, I would say some of the new mech redesigns do look fairly derivative. I will absolutely admit my strong bias against HG, but they may have a point. I do remember when they made substantial changes to the FASA games (to remove the Tatsunoko / Studio The designs), and there have been several Battle tech / Mechwarrior video games since the early nineties which seem to have been okay.

Probably not shady since the Unseen were used in a lot of materials for Battletech before 1996, and it was a way to generate buzz for MechWarrior Online at the time.

 

HG stated a lot of the damages are related to the 96-97 Settlement which FASA signed and is currently confidential and wasn't posted on the publicly accessible legal brief outside the facts that FASA agreed not to use those 12 Mecha's Copyrighted images and agreed not to help parties trying to break HG ownership of the IP for Macross/Robtoech in the West.

 

Also the arguments on infringement are against multiple parties which may or may not of collaborated in the infringement, as the ingame art was produced inhouse for each licencee of Battletech.

 

Note that Studio Nue was given the executive rights of the Mecha models outside of Tatsunoko rights to use them on merchandising unaltered which were transferred later to HG in the Japanese court system, in Big West vs Tatsunoko. Which may or may not be used in this legal fight.

Edited by enoofu
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Tatsunoko v. Harmony Gold

Another related case which stated Tatsunoko can terminate the Macross/Robotech license agreement with Harmony Gold on May 14 2021 including copyrights and trademarks

 

For many years I haven't been one of the pitchfork wielding Macross fans wishing for the death of Harmony Gold and Robotech. As a fan of both Robotech and Macross, it has been awkward.

 

But now I happily carry either a pitchfork or a torch along with the rest of the mob. If the 2021 date is true, then it can't arrive soon enough. Harmony Gold are just trademark/copyright trolls, and need to be eliminated at this point.

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I have to say I'm starting to feel the same way too watching this stupid circus. If they're not going to actively use and properly work that deal they need to lose it, either by contract expiration or having it terminated. They're just abusing it the same as all those patent trolls tend to in our interests attack Nintendo for every device they make and often enough Sony as well. They put out these flimsy claims, show up some images or other loosely interpreted bullcrap and hope to find a jury full of suckers or a stupid judge who can be conned and rake in the cash. There have been games over the years that have been stuck in Japan for everything from the mighty PC (Macross VOFX) to the lowly little Gameboy (Macross 7) we've been denied in that franchise. Then you step outside it trying to play the game that anything that's a mech that walks on 2 feet and have various weapons that look anything like what they claim to own and out come the sharks. It's really disgusting. I was a good Mechwarrior 1 and 2 fan in the day but it's like the franchise along with Battletech dried up and I really never dug into it, but the more I'm seeing now it's these assclowns shutting down anything they think they can make a buck on. They're poison.

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Harmony Gold, USA, Inc. v. Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd. CONFIRMING ARBITRATION AWARD by Judge Percy Anderson on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 and the case was terminated

 

This means that the Arbitration Award issued by the Independent Film & Television Alliance on June 28 will be enforced by US Courts so Harmony Gold could lose Robotech/Macross unless they get a new deal for the IP by Tatsunoko; Harmony Gold is allowed to make a live action movie on Robotech and will be receiving damages from Tatsunoko

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Harmony Gold, USA, Inc. v. Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd. CONFIRMING ARBITRATION AWARD by Judge Percy Anderson on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 and the case was terminated

 

This means that the Arbitration Award issued by the Independent Film & Television Alliance on June 28 will be enforced by US Courts so Harmony Gold could lose Robotech/Macross unless they get a new deal for the IP by Tatsunoko; Harmony Gold is allowed to make a live action movie on Robotech and will be receiving damages from Tatsunoko

So it looks I might have to make some updates to that Robotech wikia I run.

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  • 2 months later...

Sincerely hope they clear up that licensing mess between Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko, though I'm not sure what's the deal with those two companies and the complete lack of localisation in Europe. I'm a big Super Dimension Fortress fan, but I have to import anything related to this franchise.. (the PSP Macross games are quite nice even if you can't understand Japanese).

 

Love how the classic mecha designs are still influencing modern day designs, I'll have to look into Battletech now!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Here is a copy of defendants motion for summary judgement,

believe it going to be heard on 22th

 

https://imgur.com/a/cnCcF

 

Harmony Gold filed numerous motions including requesting the sealing of the tatsunoko VS harmony gold documents from the public

and numerous statements from past/current employees and legal consul on Harmony Gold IP ownership

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe it has already been mentioned, but I discovered today that Harmony Gold has licensed Robotech to Coleco to make old school style tabletop mini-arcades.

 

It looks like the only thing Coleco has to show is a drawing of the side panel of the mini-arcade. And they have a link to a video of the GBA Macross Saga game.

 

So, yeah. Harmony Gold and Coleco. Birds of a feather.

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  • 3 months later...

Harebrained Games and Weisman are no longer defendants in this case

 

 

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a), Plaintiff Harmony Gold U.S.A., Inc.,

and Defendants Harebrained Schemes LLC, Harebrained Holdings, Inc., and Jordan Weisman
(collectively, the “Harebrained Defendants”), by and through their respective counsel of record,
stipulate and agree that all of Plaintiff’s claims against the Harebrained Defendants are
dismissed with prejudice, without an award of fees or costs to any party. This stipulation does
not affect Plaintiff’s claims against the remaining defendants in this lawsuit.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_33WnIpLEADui_Rh6dqSqtOKgNWRveWQ/view

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Case as it stand is now against PGI and Unknown John Does

Currently PGI is asking for summary Judgement under grounds that Harmony Gold doesn't own the Copyrights

 

PGI is also denouncing Harmony Gold request to receive a letter of rogatory from Japan for these copyrights, since they were suppose to have Copyright Chain before filing a lawsuit

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u_j_BhX5NWUcwNdj8Ud-Oy3NYN0-srkg/view

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