Oh Dear: C&C Tiberium Alliances May Have ‘Borrowed’

By John Walker on April 12th, 2012 at 10:30 am.

Oh now this is just bad timing.

If I were EA, it would be right about now I’d be issuing a memo to all my employees and contracted developers to say, “Hey guys, um, can we all stop doing overtly dumb things for a bit? Cheers, thanks, love EA.” With an internet backlash against the company, part deserved, part self-entitled arsetits leaping on the latest channel for their boundless streams of hate, now was perhaps not the best time for it to be noticed that Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances has – allegedly – been copying its tanks from Warhammer 40K. (Usually slapping in an “allegedly” is a coward’s way of making an accusation, but you might want to see just how similar they are in the pics below.)

As reported by Eurogamer, and spotted by Reddit, the designs for the new free-to-play C&C game do seem somewhat… borrowed.

C&C:TA’s Grinder Tank is, pretty undeniably, an exact replica of a seemingly obscure (it doesn’t have entries on various 40K wikis, few images online, etc) 1995 Orc Bonecruncha. Here’s EA’s:

and here’s 40K’s:

The other design under accusation is the Bombard Tank, which it is claimed replicates 40k’s ’95 Baneblade. There’s certainly a bit more deviation here, and it’s a fairly traditional tank shape, but then you start spotting the details. Here’s EA’s:

and here’s 40K’s (as painted by on Phil Yip):

Clearly people are out gunning for EA right now, and obviously it wasn’t like EA top brass chewed on their cigars and barked, “GO COPY TWENTY YEAR OLD WARHAMMER DESIGNS!” This is, possibly, a stupid decision by someone or a few people, possibly at German developers EA Phenomic. We’ve approached EA for a comment. And hey, who knows, maybe they licensed them? We’re waiting to hear back.

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192 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge Joshua IX says:

    GW will be overjoyed – they LOVE to sue for copyright infringement!

    • Choca says:

      Yeah, if stealing assets from another company is your idea then you should at least stay clear of Games Workshop’s stuff. It’s how they make their money.

      • KikiJiki says:

        To be fair, GW’s intellectual property is their sole product, everything stems from the Warhammer universes. It’s understandable that they take every measure to prevent other people/companies from ripping them off.

        Before anyone brings up the issue of the german fan movie that had to get a C&D, the copyright laws in Germany would have given the IP ownership to those folks making the movie.

        Oh and obligatory joke: IT IS BETTER TO DIE FOR THE EMPEROR THAN TO INFRINGE COPYRIGHT FOR YOURSELF

        • bill says:

          It’s also a mish-mash of things from every other sci-fi / fantasy thing ever made.

          • KikiJiki says:

            Welcome to the real world. Nothing’s been truly original for the past 50 years or so, however the given combination of unoriginal can produce something original.

          • dazman76 says:

            Indeed, but so is every other fantasy product – mostly “borrowing” from Tolkien. The problem here isn’t stealing individual ideas to make a whole – it’s blatantly stealing an entire design. GW wouldn’t go after a company because they chose to use D20 dice for certain rolls – but they have every right to go after someone for picking up one of their miniature/vehicle designs, and simply using it without changes in a product that will get worldwide exposure. That’s a step over the line, right? :)

            Also, we ARE talking about EA here – surely even lawsuit-happy over-priced GW sit above them in the pecking order of “credit where credit’s due”? :)

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Dazman76 – GW wouldn’t go after people for using a d20 for a roll, mainly because they use D6′s for most of their rolls!

            Sorry, not really got a stick up my bum, but it made me chuckle!

          • The Colonel says:

            I think it’s fairer to see most things as a product of cumulative “mythology” of one particular brand of imagination or another. These things in turn are historically derived from real histories, cultures and stories. In this sense Tolkien isn’t that original either – all his middle earth species have external origins and histories, his stories can be seen as taken from a thousand other places. But LOTR is undeniably a work of extraordinary imagination and originality. This isn’t necessary found in the forms of characters and objects in my opinion.

            Few people have the capacity to truly create something unique. That’s why we celebrate the worthy few so much.

          • Ham Solo says:

            Of course alot of similar designs have come up in all the years of gaming, that’s natural.
            But this is so blatantly obvious, it borders on the impudent.

          • bill says:

            Oh, his is clearly a case of copying, I wasn’t commenting on that. I was commenting on the point that GW’s IP is their sole asset… which may be true, but is indeed ironic given how much it’s based on the work of others.

            Go back to the early days of 40k and half the things were lifted wholesale from whatever the latest cool sci-fi movie/trend was. Genestealers were Aliens. Weren’t there even some models that looked like Arnie?

            I was fine with that, because back then 40k was more flexible and fun and you could mod your own tanks or robots out of other brands with no problem.

    • CyRevenant says:

      To be fair, if they didn’t litigate then they’d lose their own claim to the IP. (INAL)

      • Norro says:

        No they wouldn’t, that is a complete myth. Not only does that idea not even apply to design rights or copyright but trademarks, but even for those you can’t stop a trademark becoming generic through legal action and to protect it you only need to use it, not sue people.

        • Milky1985 says:

          Sorry but you are incorrect with reguard to trademarks, you do need to protect your trademark to stop it from lapsing.

          This doesn’t mean sue everyone, this means deasl and contracts and talking to people, lots of times behind the scenes, but you do need to activly be using it and activly protect it.

          If you do not use it you lose, if you do not protect it , it becomes generic and you lose it.

        • jalf says:

          Perhaps you’ve got a source for this.

          Having two people make opposing claims when both are just talking out their asses is unlikely to change anyone’s minds.

          Does anyone have *any* factual information on this?

          • Unaco says:

            This is a quote, from an actual lawyer, from the same link Sheng-Ji gives below…

            “There’s one more key aspect about trade marks you need to know: once you have one, you need to enforce it. There’s no point claiming a particular word or phrase etc is vital to your business if you then let everyone use it indiscriminately (that’s how the Hoover Company lost their trade marks over their Hoover vacuum cleaners, because they allowed it to become a generic, generally used phrase to describe vacuum cleaners). If you don’t protect your trade mark, you risk losing it. This is why we see these kinds of legal letters flying around from time to time.”

          • Norro says:

            If your product is successful, it’s name will naturally become generic anyway no matter how you try to protect it. Eg. People now use the word ‘google’ interchangably with ‘seach online’ whether they are using the actual google search or some other.

            However all this talk of trademarks is irrelevant, the tank design is not a trademark.

          • DougyM says:

            Actually i am fairly confident that the tank design is trademarked. GW have their sprues that the parts come on stamped to hell and back with trademark and copyright symbols, not to mention the instruction pamphlets and their various rule books etc.

            If they want to pursue this then they will easily win because those tank models are undeniably ripped straight from GW’s model range.

            Infact a direct quote from GW’s website

            Games Workshop, the Games Workshop logo, Warhammer, the Warhammer 40,000 device, the Double Headed/Imperial Eagle device and all associated products, marks, logos, places, names, creatures, races and race insignia/devices/logos/symbols, factions, vehicles, locations, weapons, units, characters, illustrations and images from the Warhammer World and Warhammer 40,000 Universe are either ®, TM and/or © Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2012, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. All Rights Reserved.

            Then there is this in which an expert in UK copyright law tells a person trying to sell cardboard tanks “inspired” by games workshops that he will be in breach of copyright if he does so.

            http://www.justanswer.com/uk-law/3up7v-question-regarding-copyright-infringement-games-workshop.html

          • Lowbrow says:

            @DougyM From your quote “Warhammer World and Warhammer 40,000 Universe are either ®, TM and/or © Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2012, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. All Rights Reserved.” Wonder if the copyright for everything in 95 was done at the same time or if they might have missed some obscure runs.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Just to back up Milky1985 here, he is absolutely correct

          EDIT: I’ll get a source

          • Sheng-ji says:

            EDIT: Reputable Source: http://www.gamerlaw.co.uk/2011/08/trademark-troubles-bethesda-v-mojang.html

            See the comments, specifically the third comment down where the author addresses this exact point

          • Norro says:

            Sorry, you are misunderstanding what they are saying. They are not saying it will lapse if you don’t protect it, they are saying it will lapse if it becomes generic and making it more distinct in the first place and protecting it *might* prevent it becoming generic. What you have to realise though is that success and genericism go hand in hand.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Ok, I’m not going to reveal any personal details about myself, but please trust me, I do not misunderstand this or what was written here.

            If you genuinely believe that the popularity of any IP results in it becoming generic and thus impossible to protect, go ahead and put a hobbit in a game, see how far that gets you with the Tolkein Estate, or change it to a Halfling and see what WotC have to say.

            In other areas away from gaming, notice how large photography websites use the term photo manipulation instead of photoshopped, Adobe send out 10′s of cease and desist letters daily.

            Try to find a cafe owned by a family called McDonalds who have their name in the name of the cafe.

            IP law is IP law and whether you are talking about trademarks, copyright or anything else that can be construed as IP, it’s all the same. The onus is on the owner to protect it.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            The onus is on the rest of us to get these stupid laws changed

          • shitflap says:

            I want to weigh in here and say that on articles on matters like this, Sheng-ji’s is the first persons comments I look for.
            I can confirm that they are, in no way, mistaken.

        • Lemming says:

          Isn’t this thread entirely academic though? It’s an artistic design that is being infringed upon here not a trademarked word. I’m sure the law get’s a bit greyer on that score. It’d probably have to be bashed out in court.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Norro doesn’t know what he is talking about, period. Whether you have actively defended your IP in the past is a central element in almost every case concerning it.

    • Underwhelmed says:

      The real mystery here, is how in the hell did they think nobody was going to notice this? WH40K is hardly some obscure niche thing that nobody has ever heard of, and even if it was, the very nature of the internet and the lonely nerd effect is going to root this out.

    • Leftnt_Sharpe says:

      Clearly EA were ‘gifted’ the rights by GW *inset Tarkus mug image*

    • pupsikaso says:

      I’m quite sure that EA at one point had, or perhaps still has some rights to the WK40K IP because I’m sure it had a game for that once. Which means they probably have every legal right to do this.

      Doesn’t mean it’s any less stupid to copy content like that, even if it WAS done by one stupid art team.

      • LawrenceFriday says:

        EA never had the 40k license. It’s been in THQ’s hands since 2001. Before that, GW worked with Strategic Simulations, which was eventually absorbed into Ubisoft. At no point has EA had the rights to the likeness of any GW product.

  2. cliffski says:

    To be fair, this will probably just be an artist low down the ranks somewhere. An artist that will probably never work again in the games industry, or at least, not once he is named and shamed.

    Pretty much all industry contracts have a clause putting the blame squarely on the contractor when stuff like this happens, so I expect someone will be in deep doo-doo right now.

    • trjp says:

      They can blame someone – they might even manage to sack them, but the liability lies with the people promoting the game/claiming the work and that’s EA.

      Problem is I’d imagine this would be a hard sell to a court. You cannot protect the ‘look’ of something in the same way you can protect invention (patent) or names (trademarks) – whether something is “the same” – whether it was original in the first place (they’re clearly tanks and they are real world things) is a big sell.

      I’d imagine the cost of actually taking this to a court would be considerable…

      I think I’d settle for making EA look daft and force some redesign work – and bask in the free publicity I’d get for my rip-off-priced toys…

      • DougyM says:

        GW has a long history of pursuing these things.

        They are as trigger happy as you can get when it comes to hunting down people using their work to make money.

        As big as EA are, those tanks are undeniably taken from GW’s models and they will have a field day in court if EA wants to try and fight.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Actually, GW probably does not have much of a case. The first tank is undeniable in similarities. The second one has enough variation that you can’t really call it a copy. Yes, it’s very similar, but it’s not exact. Furthermore, while the design of the second tank may be similar and the first one blatant, the identifiers for GW’s properties aren’t on there. There are o Emepror’s Crests, or Blood Angel insignia, etc.

          The lack of copied insignia, which is something that is specific to GW, might help EA make a case with the first tank, but most likely not. If you look at the specs, the first tank does seem to be completely copied, verbatim, from GW’s product. Again, the second tank is similar, but it also has clear differences that, honestly, I think would be tricky to sue over.

          • KikiJiki says:

            Considering that the second one has been shown to be ripped off from an Epic 40k miniature from the 90s GW probably have all the case they need.

          • DarkFenix says:

            Take a look on the Eurogamer article, they have a picture up of what the Baneblade looked like back in 1995 (ie. where the first tank was ripped off from), it’s a whole lot more identical. The RPS-posted picture is the current iteration of the Baneblade.

            ‘Fraid both tanks are a direct rip-off.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Thanks for the info, KikiJiki and DarkFenix! After looking at the Eurogamer article, I see what you mean. However, I still see subtle differences. As minute as it may be, this is important. The main canon on the Baneblade has an additional smaller caliber cannon (machine gun?) mounted beside it. The Baneblade has additional guns on it’s side turrets and the canons on the “hood” (sorry, I don’t know tank terminology) are slightly different. Again, this may seem like nitpicking, but those differences can be enough, especially when dealing with fantasy, to make a claim that it’s not infringement.

            You can’t copyright big guys in big, bulky spacesuits with big guns. However, you can copyright an exact expression of the Space Wolves chapter insignia and the exact expression of the Space Marine armor. This just means that if someone blatantly copies your work, you’re golden. If someone does something kinda similar, ala Blizzard and Starcraft, then you don’t have a case. They didn’t copy your exact expression, and that’s what is important. You can only copyright your exact expression of that idea, not the idea itself. You can’t copyright a story of a man obsessively hunting down a whale, but you can copyright the exact narrative of Moby Dick.

            Interestingly, if you copyright something yourself, you have lifetime plus 50 years protection. If you start an LLC and copyright your work through your company, you can apply for a corporate copyright that will last for 150 years. This is in the USA. UK law may vary, but I think it’s mostly the same. The UK is unique in that some works are copyrighted in perpetuity, such as Peter Pan and The Hobbit. Also of interest, and I can’t speak for other countries, but in the USA, copyright was so important that copyright terms were drafted and understood before the Bill of Rights was even drafted. Initial protection was 14 years, plus renewal of 14 years if the originator of the copyright was still alive to renew it.

            So, if you want to pass on any copyrights you may generate on to your grandkids and great grandkids, it is best to form an LLC and have your copyright held by that corporate entity than to copyright it yourself.

          • mrpage says:

            I think it’s just Peter Pan that has perpetual UK copyright. It’s an express exception, set out in the law, because the copyright is owned by Great Ormond St Children’s Hospital and Parliament wanted the hospital to be able to exploit it indefinitely.

            I don’t think there is any special position for “Hobbit” – it may be that they are able to protect the term indefinitely as a trade mark, rather than under copyright law?

      • kud13 says:

        actually, protecting the “look” of something is precisely what copyright is for. Copyright protects an expression of an idea, since no one can “own” an idea. Thus, any original design by GW or any one working for them, given appropriate contract, is copyrighted, and, if provided by the contract, GW holds the exclusive right to reproduce the work.

        Also, unlike trademark law, copyright doesn’t “go away” on its own, until it expires. The only thing GW has to prove to show infringment is that EA copied an essential part of their copyrighted tanks. this is sufficient to make EA liable.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        That is a silly standard. And how exactly would you enforce it? After every assignment to “design a tank” some suit at EA is supposed to run through every tank IP that has ever existed and make sure the artist isn’t lying about it being an original creation?

        That is absurd. This is exactly how this process is supposed to work, people notice the theft, GW send s a letter to EA, EA fires the artist and has to pay a different artist to do the same work again, or they give GW money.

        Case closed.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Problem is, it’s not hard for an artist to adjust a model and make it original. However, here they did not!
      I mean, move the exhausts or turrets. Change the wep to a mortar or a machine gun. Simple easy and it becomes “different”.

      So, why is it so close to the original? Perhaps we will find out, not just the designs, but the models are in fact entirely taken from else where. I’ve a feeling some poor college students War Hammer artwork is missing off of their DA page. :P

  3. Ross Mills says:

    Tanks for the story, RPS!

    • Robslap says:

      Here’s hoping GW make tracks with this case…

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      You’re a barrel of laughs.

    • frightlever says:

      Mortar the point, thanks for the pictures.

      God I hate puns. How long before the other flying monkeys track down this thread and bombard it with duds?

    • Muzman says:

      Indeed! Caught with their panz’a down, I dare say.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I won’t be shelling out for this

    • LuNatic says:

      Things cannon’ly get get worse for EA now.

    • Jim Dandy says:

      Diesel be the last good ones before the monkeys arrive.

      • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

        I told my friend Liam that he should bring his pet monkeys along. I told him, if you set them up in a line over there, you’ll have a pet row, Liam.

        • Jim Dandy says:

          Please, you’re only fuelling the fire…like M1 to talk.

        • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

          You’re like Liam’s girlfriend. Then again, I do like to Challenger preconceptions.

        • Jim Dandy says:

          Are you sure you wanna go there man? Are you? Are you really sher, man?

    • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

      Well done! Patton the head.

    • sneetch says:

      This makes things very orkward for EA, I imagine that someone is gun get fired over this.

    • DanPryce says:

      Hopefully they’ll roll out a patch which sorts this out. EA need to tread carefully here.

    • Furius says:

      Everyone needs to calm down. Let me sing you Abrhams lullaby.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Story is turning into a bit of a blitzkrieig for EA

    • Skabooga says:

      All this fuss over a game that completely tanked.

    • Fumarole says:

      When I put on my glacis I can see small differences between the two pictures.

      • Grygus says:

        Whoa, there Tiger. This isn’t that big a deal, no need to go aft turret.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      On reflection this does scim a tar-rible idea on behalf of the graphics guy responsible. Probably trying to to make a Mark IV himself.

  4. Robslap says:

    I totally have a baneblade in the attic somewhere *nerdgasm* :D

  5. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    And I was afraid we’d have a page without Warhammer in it!

    • Kollega says:

      Here, here. I agree with this. Brits sure do love to give exposure to Warhammer, but watchagonnado?

  6. bill says:

    I’m pretty sure i have one or more of those Bonecrunchas in a box somewhere…. so it can’t be that obscure and old, because that’d make me obscure and old….

  7. Tolkfan says:

    Big deal… Valve copied Blizzard’s unit design for Dota 2, nobody seemed to mind that.

    • John Walker says:

      If that were true, I’m sure an enormous number of people would mind.

      • Tolkfan says:

        Google an image of “dota 2 invoker” and tell me that doesn’t look like Kael’Thas.

        “Dota 2 axe” looks like Grom Hellscream as a red orc.

        “Dota 2 pudge” looks like a typical scourge abomination.

        “Dota 2 drow ranger” looks like undead Sylvanas.

        • KikiJiki says:

          You appear to be confusing ‘similar’ with ‘identical’.

          • Tolkfan says:

            This chinese TF2 rip off isn’t identical either, but I bet you have no problem calling it a rip off.

          • KikiJiki says:

            The fantastic thing about the chinese TF2 inspired shot that you linked is that it proves my point perfectly.

          • MrMud says:

            The only difference between the dota 2 models and the blizzard models is that the dota 2 models have more polygons. Its pretty shameful.

        • MordeaniisChaos says:

          You’re talking about a whole fucking hell of a lot of generic character design right there. Axe looks more like Hellboy than anything, and “red orc” isn;t really enough to be “stolen”, and blue elf lady in skimpy clothes using a bow? Have you ever seen a fantasy painting? A fat zombie with a cleaver, certainly never saw that before (every single game ever made by) Blizzard.
          Plus, they had it coming. Starcraft is literally just a renamed Warhammer.

          • Tolkfan says:

            A guy in a hardhat with a wrench. A fat guy with a minigun. A soldier with a rocket launcher. All very generic. Put them in one game with cartoony style and everyone says “TF2″.

            Undead archer with cowl. Fat zombie with guts hanging out. Giant cow-thing with a log-totem as a weapon. Red orc with axe and single shoulder pad. Mage with very high collar and 3 magic balls floating around him. Put it all together and you get Warcraft.

        • Max Ursa says:

          invoker looks like a high elf mage, axe looks like an orc with a big axe, pudge looks like the usual flesh golem, drow ranger looks like a dark elf with a bow.

          the thing to bear in mind is that 75% of warcraft (as in the original RTS, the great granddaddy of WoW) was taken from warhammer. blizzard knew it and many of the units would make warhammer references in their quips when you kept clicking them. one such example is the gryphon rider from either WC2/3, ‘this warhammer cost me 40k! huh huh huh…’ none of blizzards unis in warcraft were original, they took from all sources of high fantasy; D&D, warhammer and the progenitor of all modern high fantasy- Lord of The Rings.

        • Milky1985 says:

          Dota 1 drow ranger looked a lot like slyvannas as well, dota 1 aze looks like grom!

          Theiving mod makers.

          Could it be that valve are basing the characters on the dota characters not the blizzard lore ones tho? :o

          Sorry am i using logic again on teh internet rather than pure rage, sorry i’ll putt hat right.

          Down with teh copiers they are destorying esports/birck and mortoor stores/indie games/downloadable content adn everythign else i can think of.

          • Tolkfan says:

            The dota 1 characters are still models made and designed by Blizzard…

          • Milky1985 says:

            Which have been used as references and changed for the dota 2 designs, the point i was making was that OP was saying dota 2 drow ranger was like slyvannes, well of course cause the dota 1 drow ranger WAS syvannus :P

        • kud13 says:

          the DotA situation is actually quite interesting. From a copyright perspective, software is treated as literature, since code is equivalent to written work.

          thus, any modder that used Blizzard’s code, is essentially rearranging the earlier expression of ideas of Blizzard.
          However, in copyright, applying effort and skill to rearrange or translate a written work gives rise to a set of new copyright rights to whomever applied the effort, since the end product is a different form of expression, even if underlying ideas may be similar. And, in case of DotA vs WarCraft III, they aren’t necessarily all that similar–one one is an RTS, the other is DotA.

          thus, whilst Blizzard is due an acknowledgement and possibly compensation (though it did give the editor used to create the mod away as part of the game), they cannot claim a copyright for DotA as a whole.

          no matter how it turns out, this case will be an interesting precedent with regard to mods.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Aren’t Blizzard and Valve currently involved in a court action over DOTA?

      • KikiJiki says:

        For the trademark and right to call the game Dota, not for copyright issues of any sort as yet.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Valve want to call teh game dota, blizzard think they own the rights to DOTA afaik.

        The characters themselves are not in question but if blizz lose that court case i give it a week before they start a new one about the look of the characters.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Not to nitpick, but to be more specific: Valve is applying for the rights to trademark “DOTA” and only “DOTA”. AFAIK, that is the exact specification and the only thing Valve is attempting to Trademark.

          Blizzard is seeking an injunction that would not only turn down Valve’s request for trademarking “DOTA” but also grant Blizzard trademark control over “DOTA” “DotA.” “Dota” and “Defense of the Ancients”.

          Essentially, Valve is attempting to TM the title of their game (rightly so) and Blizzard is saying that Valve should not be given that TM because it is linked to Blizzard’s IP and that if anyone should have ownership over the trademarking of the DOTA name, it is them. Additionally, Blizzard is arguing that they should also have TM control over the derivatives of the DOTA name.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Also, I should note that this is, actually, a kind of bizarre case. Usually TM disputes are over registered TM’s and the infringement thereof. This is actually rather odd that Blizzard is arguing TM grounds based on their EULA and IP, as well as general marketing of their products.

            It’s a very obtuse argument for Blizzard to be making, if you ask me, and it’s also a definite “you snooze, you lose” in my book. This is most likely why Blizzard has demanded control over DOTA Allstars.com. They have to show that they protect this title as part of their IP, even if they do not have an official TM for it.

            Personally, I like the Riot Games idea. TM “Defense of the Ancients”, then let the community have it. Set up a dummy LLC, apply for TM, then willfully allow for the TM to be violated. You could very easily make a point of trademark erosion. Once this happens, the term cannot be TMed.

            -edit-

            Y’know, thinking about it, Blizzard could just make the argument that they object due to DOTA being TM’d by Valve due to the term being generic and Blizzard being worried over their upcoming DOTA SC2 addon. Blizzard wouldn’t gain TM control, but Valve would have to come up with a unique name and DOTA and such derivatives would remain in the public domain.

    • Mordsung says:

      And Blizzard’s original art design and direction for Warcraft was a direct Warhammer Fantasy rip off.

      Warcraft orcs and ogres are a direct rip off of WHFB orcs and ogres, from the green skin and horned helmets to the gutplates and food obsession.

      Let’s not even get started on Starcraft.

      Blizzard suing someone for copyright infringement is like a Catholic priest speaking out against child abuse.

      • Underwhelmed says:

        Style? Absolutely. But they never actually did a one for one rip of in which they took a figure, drew a picture of it, and then created an in-game model based on it directly. Imitation is one thing, copy-paste is something else entirely.

        • Mordsung says:

          Orcs in WC1 didn’t have much to separate them from WHFB orcs. Same armor style, same helmets, same general skin tone. Over the years they’ve done more to differentiate their lore, but in the old days it was about as close to direct rip off as you could get.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            There’s all sorts of things that make it a grey area, though. Orcs are a general idea. If Blizzard had completely copied the art style, including clan symbols and so forth, as well as specifc types of Orcs (Black Orcs) and so on, then it would be infringement. Big, green Orcs with piercings and spiky armor doesn’t cut it. You have to copy the exact expression. There is also an argument to be made for common use amongst elements.

            Orcs are largely regarded as Mongols/Norse styled barbarians. Rough, bawdy, cruel, dirty, and a bit primitive. You can’t have a copyright on such elements. There are limits on copyright, and a big one is to limit people from taking entire themes and generic ideas and monopolizing them. This generally covers things that are common concepts, such as Orcs being barbarian societies. Likewise, the idea of a White Knight or Paladin isn’t something you can copyright. These are viewed as generalized concepts that are not unique enough to warrant copy protection.

            Unfortunately, there seems to be a very different kind of shift in the modern mindset regarding copyrights. A lot of people want to copyright and patent everything so that they can receive royalties and payments for years to come, not to mention secure income for their children and children’s children. Copyrighting, trademarking, and patenting aren’t bad in themselves, but current litigation trends have created a situation where you do have people who try to abuse the system to solely use them as an income generator.

            The purpose of copyright was always to protect exact expression of works and to prevent people from profiting and laying claim to another’s work. It seems like nowadays, these protections are mostly being used as extortion schemes by people who are interpreting their ownership in vastly overreaching means that stifles creativity and bullies startups who cannot afford to process such legal claims. If someone copies your game, verbatim, you have grounds. If someone makes a game with elves and big dudes in armor, that’s not enough. You only own your exact expression, not every single concept and art style that you think you invented. (hint: you probably didn’t “invent” it)

            Hell, think of how many people and for how long Tim Langdell was screwing those people over while TM-trolling the name “Edge.” It wasn’t until EA’s publishing of Mirror’s Edge that someone finally bucked up and told him to get stuffed. It took over 15 years for his whole farce to be disclosed and upended. That dude tried to sue Namco-Bandai over Souledge way back in 2001, so it’s not like he was only picking on small indie devs before he made a mistake of taking on EA.

            -edit in reply (sorry, RPS eats my comment whenever I reply)-

            @Mordsung, I see where you’re coming from and I do agree to a certain extent. It is a bit of a morality and respect thing amongst fellow artists that you don’t steal guitar riffs and you don’t knock off other people’s art styles, etc. Of course, you can see how well that works in practice. (look at how many people still imitate Jackson Pollock to this day)

            However, I feel that it’s one thing when someone is trying to rip off something, and another when someone is borrowing and reinterpreting certain mechanics or themes. Gears of War ripped off Kill.Switch’s cover mechanics. Gears did, however, improve upon it and made an, overall, better product. Because God of War is extremely popular, does that mean people should be barred from making combo-oriented beat ‘em up games? See, that’s my conundrum.

            If you wanted, you could go back and say that every single sci-fi film, game, book, etc. is ripping off Starship Troopers and Forbidden Planet. Even then, Forbidden Planet is merely a scifi version of Shakespeare’s Tempest, so what does one make of that?

            I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine about writing. He posited that there are really only two plots for stories. 1) Protagonist trying to find themselves. 2) Stranger walks into a strange town. And if you think about it, you really can boil most stories down to those.

            So, yeah, I don’t condone blatantly copying other people’s works, but I don’t begrudge someone for drawing inspiration from something and interpreting those elements into their own work. It can sometimes be a fine line between taking inspiration from other’s works and from ripping them off. And that line is often very subjective.

          • Mordsung says:

            I’m actually completely indifferent to the legality of the whole situation, it’s more the spirit.

            Blizzard didn’t necessarily break any laws when they ripped off Warhammer for Warcraft and 40k for Starcraft, but they did commit intellectual theft. Legal intellectual theft, maybe, but direct theft none the less.

            Hence they may be legally able to sue others for copyright infringement, but they’re pretty much automatically hypocrites for doing so.

            Legality doesn’t concern me as much as the motivation/spirit of an action.

            As I said, it’s akin to a Catholic Priest speaking out about child molestation. Even if that priest himself never committed such an act, he is still in bad taste by even speaking on the subject due to belonging to the order he does.

            It’s in bad taste for a company that has made a career of intellectual theft to turn around and sue anyone for the same, even if they never broke a law while doing it.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Mordsung, I see where you’re coming from and I do agree to a certain extent. It is a bit or a moral and respect thing amongst fellow artists that you don’t steal guitar riffs and you don’t knock off other people’s art styles, etc. Of course, you can see how well that works in practice. (look at how many people still imitate Jackson Pollock to this day)

            However, I feel that it’s one thing when someone is trying to rip off something, and another when someone is borrowing and reinterpreting certain mechanics or themes. Gears of War ripped off Kill.Switch’s cover mechanics. Gears did, however, improve upon it and made an, overall, better product. Because God of War is extremely popular, does that mean people should be barred from making combo-oriented beat ‘em up games? See, that’s my conundrum.

            Yes, one shouldn’t try to blatantly rip off God of War, but I don’t think people should be barred from creating their own interpretations of the genre, or even the style, simple because of a “Simpsons did it” syndrome. If you had that, you would have very few games being made and a lot of people trying to, in essence, reinvent the wheel. Some things are there because they work. Big, bulky armor looks badass. It’s the way it is, and barring anyone from making big space dudes in big space armor doesn’t make sense. If you wanted, you could go back and say that every single scifi film, game, book, etc. is ripping off Starship Troopers and Forbidden Planet. Even then, Forbidden Planet is merely a scifi version of Shakespeare’s Tempest, so what does one make of that?

            I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine about writing. He posited that there are really only two plots for stories. 1) Protagonist trying to find themselves. 2) Stranger walks into a strange town. And if you think about it, you really can boil most stories down to those.

            So, yeah, I don’t condone blatantly copying other people’s works, but I don’t begrudge someone for drawing inspiration from something and interpreting those elements into their own work. It can sometimes be a fine line between taking inspiration from other’s works and from ripping them off. And that line is often very subjective.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            @Mordsung,

            I see where you’re coming from and I do agree to a certain extent. It is a bit or a moral and respect thing amongst fellow artists that you don’t steal guitar riffs and you don’t knock off other people’s art styles, etc. Of course, you can see how well that works in practice. (look at how many people still imitate Jackson Pollock to this day)

            However, I feel that it’s one thing when someone is trying to rip off something, and another when someone is borrowing and reinterpreting certain mechanics or themes. Gears of War ripped off Kill.Switch’s cover mechanics. Gears did, however, improve upon it and made an, overall, better product. Because God of War is extremely popular, does that mean people should be barred from making combo-oriented beat ‘em up games? See, that’s my conundrum.

            Yes, one shouldn’t try to blatantly rip off God of War, but I don’t think people should be barred from creating their own interpretations of the genre, or even the style, simple because of a “Simpsons did it” syndrome. If you had that, you would have very few games being made and a lot of people trying to, in essence, reinvent the wheel. Some things are there because they work. Big, bulky armor looks badass. It’s the way it is, and barring anyone from making big space dudes in big space armor doesn’t make sense. If you wanted, you could go back and say that every single scifi film, game, book, etc. is ripping off Starship Troopers and Forbidden Planet. Even then, Forbidden Planet is merely a scifi version of Shakespeare’s Tempest, so what does one make of that?

            I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine about writing. He posited that there are really only two plots for stories. 1) Protagonist trying to find themselves. 2) Stranger walks into a strange town. And if you think about it, you really can boil most stories down to those.

            So, yeah, I don’t condone blatantly copying other people’s works, but I don’t begrudge someone for drawing inspiration from something and interpreting those elements into their own work. It can sometimes be a fine line between taking inspiration from other’s works and from ripping them off. And that line is often very subjective.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          @Mordsung, (when I try to reply to you it seems to eat my comment, so maybe this will work…)

          I see where you’re coming from and I do agree to a certain extent. It is a bit or a moral and respect thing amongst fellow artists that you don’t steal guitar riffs and you don’t knock off other people’s art styles, etc. Of course, you can see how well that works in practice. (look at how many people still imitate Jackson Pollock to this day)

          However, I feel that it’s one thing when someone is trying to rip off something, and another when someone is borrowing and reinterpreting certain mechanics or themes. Gears of War ripped off Kill.Switch’s cover mechanics. Gears did, however, improve upon it and made an, overall, better product. Because God of War is extremely popular, does that mean people should be barred from making combo-oriented beat ‘em up games? See, that’s my conundrum.

          Yes, one shouldn’t try to blatantly rip off God of War, but I don’t think people should be barred from creating their own interpretations of the genre, or even the style, simple because of a “Simpsons did it” syndrome. If you had that, you would have very few games being made and a lot of people trying to, in essence, reinvent the wheel. Some things are there because they work. Big, bulky armor looks badass. It’s the way it is, and barring anyone from making big space dudes in big space armor doesn’t make sense. If you wanted, you could go back and say that every single scifi film, game, book, etc. is ripping off Starship Troopers and Forbidden Planet. Even then, Forbidden Planet is merely a scifi version of Shakespeare’s Tempest, so what does one make of that?

          I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine about writing. He posited that there are really only two plots for stories. 1) Protagonist trying to find themselves. 2) Stranger walks into a strange town. And if you think about it, you really can boil most stories down to those.

          So, yeah, I don’t condone blatantly copying other people’s works, but I don’t begrudge someone for drawing inspiration from something and interpreting those elements into their own work. It can sometimes be a fine line between taking inspiration from other’s works and from ripping them off. And that line is often very subjective.

      • Ritashi says:

        Sorry, but bringing up a Catholic priest and child abuse is just a bit too far there. A Catholic priest has every right to speak out against child abuse. For starters even under your flawed idea of what qualifies one as being allowed to talk about something if he never had anything to do with such cases then he certainly is in no way hypocritical. Particularly since even though such incidents have occurred, they are in no way condoned or supported by the organization as a whole (although people within the organization have definitely made poor choices about what to do when such incidents occur), meaning that by joining the priesthood he in no way implicitly or explicitly agreed that child abuse is acceptable. That’s like saying that if I join let’s say a gay rights club, and one member of that club participates in murder, and other members help them cover it up, I have no right to speak out against murder.

        Further, the very premise that hypocrisy is a higher crime than allowing a current injustice is in itself flawed. If I commit theft, and later catch a burglar entering my home and turn him in, then yes I am a hypocrite. But that does not mean that turning him in is the wrong thing to do. Depending on your notion of justice it may in fact be wrong to allow him to go free. Examine: I was wrong to steal. This is obvious. If I believe that stealing is wrong (or that at least in my specific circumstances it was wrong) then I am also a hypocrite, which is wrong under many common worldviews. However, turning him in does nothing but reveal my hypocrisy. I already believed that it was wrong, therefore I was already a hypocrite. My action in deciding to let him go free or not may be determined as right or wrong according to a number of factors, again depending on which of any number of worldviews one ascribes to, but in no way does that decision have any bearing on whether or not I am a hypocrite.

        Also, although I am not Catholic and personally as a Christian very much dislike many things about the Catholic church, I should still defend that the Catholic church does not condone such behavior by its priests. Members of the Catholic church have made stupid decisions at times when trying to deal with these situations, but such things are not part of what the church stands for. Covering these things up is a recognized mistake. People do stupid things all the time, sometimes they realize they were wrong and learn from them. Give the same opportunity here.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Big deal… Blizzard copied Warhammer and Dungeon’s and Dragons unit design for Warcraft, nobody seemed to mind that.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        @Mordsung, (when I try to reply to you it seems to eat my comment, so maybe this will work…)

        I see where you’re coming from and I do agree to a certain extent. It is a bit or a moral and respect thing amongst fellow artists that you don’t steal guitar riffs and you don’t knock off other people’s art styles, etc. Of course, you can see how well that works in practice. (look at how many people still imitate Jackson Pollock to this day)

        However, I feel that it’s one thing when someone is trying to rip off something, and another when someone is borrowing and reinterpreting certain mechanics or themes. Gears of War ripped off Kill.Switch’s cover mechanics. Gears did, however, improve upon it and made an, overall, better product. Because God of War is extremely popular, does that mean people should be barred from making combo-oriented beat ‘em up games? See, that’s my conundrum.

        If you wanted, you could go back and say that every single sci-fi film, game, book, etc. is ripping off Starship Troopers and Forbidden Planet. Even then, Forbidden Planet is merely a scifi version of Shakespeare’s Tempest, so what does one make of that?

        I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine about writing. He posited that there are really only two plots for stories. 1) Protagonist trying to find themselves. 2) Stranger walks into a strange town. And if you think about it, you really can boil most stories down to those.

        So, yeah, I don’t condone blatantly copying other people’s works, but I don’t begrudge someone for drawing inspiration from something and interpreting those elements into their own work. It can sometimes be a fine line between taking inspiration from other’s works and from ripping them off. And that line is often very subjective.

  8. Jams O'Donnell says:

    While the modern Baneblade may be a bit more of a deviation the old Epic one they ripped off isn’t: http://www.solegends.com/citcat94/cat1994092-03.htm

  9. M.Westen says:

    About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.

    -Josh Billings

  10. talon03 says:

    bahahahahahahahaha.

    That is all.

    EDIT: In fairness to EA, it’s not like they thought anyone was actually going to PLAY this crappy game.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      In all fairness to EA, it’s not like they are gonna pay people to model an original design… are they?

  11. DiamondDog says:

    I expect there to be an announcement later today stating that a new source of funds has been found for the 40k MMO.

  12. Maxheadroom says:

    I wish i could find it now, but somewhere there’s a scan of article in an early 80′s magizine from around the time EA formed.

    Below a black and white picture of half a dozen guys with bad hair and in need of a shave was their company mission statment. Something about games being an art form (hence Electronic ‘Arts’) and that it was their goal to push boundies, champion innovation, and not have their direction dictated by corporate money men

    kinda funny reading it now. I wish I could find it again

  13. stahlwerk says:

    ~Oh EA, you so crazy~

    Edit: Free-to-play games seem to attract this kind of cavalier attitude towards intellectual property, see also that one empire building game ripping from age of empires, or wotsit. I wonder why that is.

  14. Inigo says:

    I thought there was a 0-1 limit on Looted Tanks.

  15. Premium User Badge RedViv says:

    Stop ripping off Blizzard’s ripping off from Games Workshop!

  16. LuNatic says:

    That little symbol in the corner bears a striking resemblance to the Mark of Nurgle, as well.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I was just about to post the same thing. Nurgle and Orks united is a chilling idea.

  17. Premium User Badge Magga says:

    Everything is stolen from Games Workshop. Even humans.

  18. pertusaria says:

    Can anyone explain to me why you’d *want* a weird spiked cylinder attached to the front of your tank?

    I can kind of see how it’d fit in with an orc theme in 40K, but isn’t it just a bit dumb in C&C? Or am I missing something?

    • sneetch says:

      You’re right it is dumb unless you’re an ork and that just goes to highlight the sheer laziness here.

    • Gasmask Hero says:

      Infantry overruns. In Epic, anyway. That big spiked roller was handy for squashing Imperials.

      But yeah, no use for it in c&c.

      • BurningPet says:

        True, Even modern tanks have chained devices that does that. basically gearwheels that aim to detonate the mine before it hits the track.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          A bit OT, but I’ve been reading Robert Kaplan’s Soldiers of God, and there’s this pretty insane bit in there:

          In the same week in April 1998 that the Soviet Union signed an agreement in Geneva to withdraw its troops, terrorists blew up an ammunition depot outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, killing one hundred and injuring more than one thousand people. It was one of four terrorist incidents in Pakistan over a forty-eight-hour period. The equipment destroyed at the depot was destined for the mujahidin. It included a large shipment of primacord, a rocket-fired cable that explodes two feet above the ground, used to clear a path through mine fields.

          This would have been the first mine-clearing equipment that the mujahidin received. Indeed, throughout the Soviet occupation the only such equipment was the winter hail, dubbed, “Allah’s mine sweeper,” because the crashing pellets of ice sometimes triggered the mines.

          There’s also this little bit:

          For several days I rode in a Toyota Land Cruiser through the mine-strewn desert outside the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. The trails were marked with the rusted carcasses of trucks that told you it was almost better to not survive such an explosion. My driver kept safely to previous tread marks. But when another vehicle approached from the opposite direction we had to make room for each other, and I became so afraid that I held my breath just to keep from whimpering. At night, or in the frequent dust storms when we lost the track, the fear went on for hours at a stretch, leaving me physically sick.

          BTW, estimates in 1988 from the US DoJ was 10-30 million mines were deployed in Afghanistan. After the Soviet invasion, that left just over 2 mines per every single surviving Afghan citizen.

  19. razgon says:

    To be fair, EA probably thought that hey, Blizzard got away free and clear with totally ripping of for WoW, so why not.

    • Jorum says:

      for the love of god please tell me that is a deliberate troll

    • Gentlemoth says:

      You mean GW getting away with ripping off Starcraft, right?

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Rogue Trader came out in 1987. Starcraft came out in 1998.

        Blizzard has never had an original idea.

  20. vanilla bear says:

    Whaddya know, piracy is killing the gaming industry!

  21. Kollega says:

    You know how the saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? Well, it’s not true. But what is true is that people i don’t like fighting other people i don’t like makes for a very good show. Let’s just hope that GW do try to sue EA for this.

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    The most insane part of this is… why didn’t the team just borrow the existing tank assets from the earlier C&C games!?! They should have had access to far more than they needed just by making a phone call.

    Holy cow, people, you’re working for EA, not the Limbo of the Lost team!

    • Premium User Badge DrScuttles says:

      Yeah, they could have just re-used the Lasher Tank from Yuri’s Revenge. It’s a tank with a Big Spikey Bit ‘o Death on the front, only less blatant.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Looks more like they were inspired by the real deal in this one. Being inspired by reality is ok in my books. Copying someone else’s work, line for line? Hmmmm…

        (PS, I’d guess they WOULD get sued by internal/external studios if they copied their own games. Look at most games series, they swap publishers all the time. Even the likes of “Star Trek” hits roadblocks over content because TV station 1 does not allow TV station 2 to show the “ship” they “own”. :/ )

        • Brun says:

          EA has full ownership of the C&C IP now, including the Red Alert franchise from which the Lasher Tank would be taken.

  23. mondomau says:

    Hoo boy! I bet the GW IP lawyers are rubbing their hands in glee and pulling on their raping trousers right about now.
    Seriously though, if you’re going to violate another company’s IP, you’d have to try hard to pick a worse target than Games Workshop.

  24. sneetch says:

    I hope everyone does realise that the outcome of all this is just going to be a cease and desist letter followed by ceasing and desisting and a sorry about that letter! GW and EA are already in bed together after all.

  25. Jim Dandy says:

    I’m thinking there’s a (now sacked) concept artist who never played Warhammer (they do exist, I am one. The sacked part too…though that was a cafeteria job…and a porno book shop. Maybe one or two others. Hey, freelance, am I right?).

    So the artist finds a couple of manky old toys in an op-shop, to add to their collection of hentai figurines and mid 80′s Hasbro. Maybe they draw the toys for a bit of practice, IP-theft the furthest thing from their mind, then all of a sudden some tank concepts are needed NOW. Perhaps our friend has been churning out fifteen concepts a day for fourteen months straight, and the request for tank pictures NOW has arrived after a weekend of Thompsonesque alco-chemical indulgence…a moment of weakness and we all get to hate EA just a little more.

    • Jim Dandy says:

      Thinking about this a little more, it’s pretty freaking bizarre that something like this could get any further than the concept stage – surely out of all the nerdly eyes that looked at this shit before it got to publication someone should have noticed. Does anyone know if the stolen tanks are anything more than early concepts? Maybe they were never intended to be seen or used (but fuck you EA, anyway)? They do look pretty fleshed out to me…

      • Tetragrammaton says:

        I dont know- art directors can be alarmingly narrowminded when it comes to things they are aware of. I’ve had one in the past who was seemingly unaware of anything that happened before the mid nineties .

  26. 2late2die says:

    Wow. I don’t even play Warhammer 40k, just seen some random designs here and there, some from table top, some from the RTS games, and I could still tell this was at least WH40K inspired. I mean heck, if you showed me those tank designs without the green “tiberium” tint (maybe even with it) and I would’ve told you it’s for a new WH40K game.

  27. apocraphyn says:

    Gawsh, it’s like the photoshopped Tali picture all over again!

    • Shooop says:

      Only thing is, that was a stock photo which you’re allowed to use however you want.

  28. hamster says:

    What’s the big deal? A tank-bulldozer hybrid with guns, wow. How distinctive.

    • Tim Ward says:

      It’s not just that they’re the same concept… they’re absolutely identical, right down to the number of panels covering the treads, the number of spikes on the bulldozer, the shape of the weapons, the exhaust pipes on the back, the coil thingies on the side, the grills for seeing out.

      Which is bizarre, really, because you’d think it’d take more effort to make such an exact duplicate than it would a vague copy.

      • Jim Dandy says:

        I totally agree, it makes no sense whichever way you look at it. Maybe a disgruntled concept artist with a grudge? A subtle and rather genteel form of gunning down your workmates?

  29. Jim Dandy says:

    You’re kidding, right? Hamster?

  30. Strange_guy says:

    I occasionally visit some Warhammer forum and after some false alarms (and one person claiming the box art for a model of the real life tank the land raider was based on copied the land raider box art) I was a little sceptical, but those are near exact copies of vehicles not heavily based on real life ones.

  31. eks says:

    Didn’t we already know this? I was trying to think how I knew because I don’t care about C&C or Warhammer. I was pretty damn sure I read it on here too so I had a look back and I was correct. An RPS reader already pointed this out about a month ago on a previous article:

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/03/15/command-conquer-tiberium-alliances-is-playable-now/#comment-937730

    • diebroken says:

      Gah, sorry. Beat me to it, but missed your comment on the next page… :(

  32. Premium User Badge lurkalisk says:

    “Usually slapping in an “allegedly” is a coward’s way of making an accusation”

    You say “coward”, I say “journalist”, it’s just… Wait… What? How in the burning hells does that make any sense? (provided, of course, I’m privy to all known jokes and such)

  33. Grape says:

    There’s something I’ve been curious about.

    What exactly is the difference between this case and, say, “Legend of Grimrock”? It’s entire selling point is that it is more or less a relatively direct copy of “Dungeon Master” (and assorted other games from that era). The developers have always been relatively open about this. So how come they aren’t getting in trouble for “stealing” from that game?

    Note that this isn’t meant as a criticism or anything of the sort, I’m just curious. These laws really confuse me. I have the same question about “Xenonauts” as well. Have the developers of these games acquired a special permission from the original developers, or something?

    • JackShandy says:

      You should be able to figure this out for yourself, surely. Polishing and iterating on the mechanics of other games is a time-honoured tradition in the industry, and it leads to better games. You can’t copyright mechanics (At least, you shouldn’t be able to). Legends of Grimrock takes the ideas of Dungeon Master, it doesn’t directly rip art or music out of it.

      • Grape says:

        You can’t copyright mechanics (At least, you shouldn’t be able to).

        Surely there must be cases where a game has gotten their developers into trouble for being too similar to another game?

        • JackShandy says:

          Well, a lot of companies own clearly idiotic patent on basic mechanics, and just cash them in by threatening a lawsuit whenever they feel like making money. Some company has a patent on playing a minigame during a loading screen… Crazy Taxi has a copyright on putting big yellow arrows over cars, I think. Stuff like that. They get away with it because games are new and the law is slow to change.

          GTA did not sue Saints Row, though, if that’s the kind of stuff you’re asking about.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Actually, companies are allowed to patent that stuff because the laws were specifically relaxed to allow for rampant software patenting. The laws have been around for software patenting for years, going back to the 70′s. So, no, it’s not really a matter of the law needing to catch up with the times.

            The relaxing of software patenting restrictions in the USA was done by the first black president, Bill Clinton, in 1996. Granted, software patenting existed before, but it wasn’t until ’96 that the floodgates opened and a lot of the requirements for software patenting were lowered.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        As another example, id software invented the first person shooter. There are a hell of a lot of first person shooters, some of which are more similar mechanically to the early id shooters (the entire Half Life series sticks closely to the 100 health points + ablative armor + hold all your weapons at once + instant healing & ammunition pickups) and others which do things differently (Halo has maximum of two weapons + regenerating health “shields”). But Half Life and Half Life 2 are very, VERY different from Doom in every way except for the very basic mechanics, so that makes them in the same genre but completely different games.

        • Grape says:

          But they don’t have as much in common with “Doom” as “Xenonauts” have with “X-Com”, for example.

        • vanilla bear says:

          The basic rule of copyright is that there is no copyright in an idea. Where you’re most likely to get in trouble with games is copying actual code, or the look-and-feel of the UI, or the models.

          This particular case might be slightly complicated because what might have been copied is the actual model produced. In that case the model might have protection under both copyright and as a design right (which is only protected for a maximum of 25 years). The copyright might also be limited to 25 years as it is a “design made by an industrial process”. The Article says that the first tank is from 1995, so the IP protection would run out in 2020 (I think?).

        • Jim Dandy says:

          Mechanics are to games what chord structure is to music. There are a gajillion (at least – maybe as many as a gajillion and four) twelve-bar blues songs and just as many variations on G, C , and D: it’s the lyrics, key, and verlying melodies that differentiate one from the other.

          Those tanks are the same freakin’ song – I think the lyrics go “GRRR AAARGH CRUSH, GRRR AAARGH CRUSH, I SEE A MAN AND I GRIND HIM INTO MUSH (repeat x 50)”…

      • ZyloMarkIII says:

        Does the d20 system qualify as copyrighted mechanics?

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Yes, it does.

          However, the D20 system is Open Game Content (OGC) and licensed under the Open Gaming License (OGL) This licensing allows for both commercial and non-commercial products based on the D20 ruleset and requires no licensing or fees from WotC.

    • Grayvern says:

      You can patent them Namco owns a US patent for games playable during loading screens.

      But there is clearly a difference between inspired by and direct rip off, see; tiny tower and zynga.

      Grimrock is more just another in a small genre, like the difference between nascent japanese and extant western role playing games in the 80′s

  34. tentaclesex says:

    I can’t believe those designs are so old. I’m so old.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Whenever I think of getting old, I always think of that scene in Mars Attacks

      “I bet you’re psyched about the Martians coming, Grandma? I mean, you’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff already. Everyone must have been real scared when they invented the train!”

      “Come on, kid, I’m not that old!”

      • Khatzen says:

        Mars Attacks is from 1996, 16 Years ago, that doesn’t make me feel any younger :(

  35. noodlecake says:

    I would be inclined to dismiss this if it was a little bit similar because there is only so much yo can do with tank designs… But these look EXACTLY the same. What self respecting artist would want to do this?

  36. MeestaNob says:

    Maybe GW can use the inevitable windfall they are about to get from EA and help THQ finish the next W40K game.

    Might be enough cash for both an MMO AND another single player Spacemarine game…

  37. Hoaxfish says:

    We’ve approached EA for a comment. And hey, who knows, maybe they licensed them? We’re waiting to hear back.

    Just to stir the pot, have you tried contacting GW as well?

    • Skabooga says:

      Heh heh. “There was no news today so we decided to create news.”

      • Premium User Badge Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        In other news, Paradox totally told a “your mom” joke about THQ. We contacted them both for comment…

  38. standardman says:

    I like that you credited the guy who painted the model.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      As they should. Painting those things ain’t easy!

      Seriously, though, that is really awesome of RPS to do that.

  39. Tokamak says:

    “Entitled”
    There’s that word again that gaming journalist seem to love to use and abuse.

  40. Tetragrammaton says:

    A a concept artist myself I feel really bad for the poor dumb bastard who thought this would be a great time-saver.

  41. stupid_mcgee says:

    @Mordsung, (when I try to reply in that thread it seems to eat my comment, so maybe this will work…)

    I see where you’re coming from and I do agree to a certain extent. It is a bit or a moral and respect thing amongst fellow artists that you don’t steal guitar riffs and you don’t knock off other people’s art styles, etc. Of course, you can see how well that works in practice. (look at how many people still imitate Jackson Pollock to this day)

    However, I feel that it’s one thing when someone is trying to rip off something, and another when someone is borrowing and reinterpreting certain mechanics or themes. Gears of War ripped off Kill.Switch’s cover mechanics. Gears did, however, improve upon it and made an, overall, better product. Because God of War is extremely popular, does that mean people should be barred from making combo-oriented beat ‘em up games? See, that’s my conundrum.

    If you wanted, you could go back and say that every single sci-fi film, game, book, etc. is ripping off Starship Troopers and Forbidden Planet. Even then, Forbidden Planet is merely a scifi version of Shakespeare’s Tempest, so what does one make of that?

    I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine about writing. He posited that there are really only two plots for stories. 1) Protagonist trying to find themselves. 2) Stranger walks into a strange town. And if you think about it, you really can boil most stories down to those.

    So, yeah, I don’t condone blatantly copying other people’s works, but I don’t begrudge someone for drawing inspiration from something and interpreting those elements into their own work. It can sometimes be a fine line between taking inspiration from other’s works and from ripping them off. And that line is often very subjective.

  42. UnrealClock says:

    Because suing the publisher for your IP’s MMO makes a hell of a lot of sense. OH WAIT!@#