Games Workshop gets someone's book yanked from Amazon for using the term "Space Marine"

Illustration for article titled Games Workshop gets someones book yanked from Amazon for using the term Space Marine

Who owns the term "space marine"? According to Wikipedia, the term was first used in 1932 in a story called "Captain Brink of the Space Marines" by Bob Olsen — but now, Warhammer 40K owner Games Workshop is claiming to have a trademark on the longstanding term.

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M.C.A. Hogarth has been selling a serial called Spots the Space Marine, which is described as "Pollyanna meets Starship Troopers." But now, Amazon.com has decided to stop selling Hogarth's e-books because of a claim from Games Workshop that Hogarth was infringing on their trademark.

As Hogarth notes:

If you go to the Trademarks Database and look up the word "space marine" you'll find the Games Workshop owns a trademark on the term "space marine," but it only covers the follow goods and services: IC 028. US 022. G & S: board games, parlor games, war games, hobby games, toy models and miniatures of buildings, scenery, figures, automobiles, vehicles, planes, trains and card games and paint, sold therewith.

Fiction isn't included in that list, which means Games Workshop has no grounds on which to accuse me of trademark infringement.

I didn't get my use of that term from Games Workshop. I got it from Robert Heinlein. Apparently the first use of the term was in 1932. E.E. Smith used it, among others. Also there are other novels on Amazon being sold that have "space marine" in the title. I don't know why Games Workshop decided to complain about Spots in particular, but my guess is because the Kickstarter made it a little higher-profile than the average indie offering.

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Hogarth closed comments on the above blog post, in order to "have a discussion with the people involved" — so let's hope this nonsense is getting sorted out. Forthwith. [M.C.A. Hogarth via Pope Hat]

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DISCUSSION

James Whitbrook

I'm not surprised at Games Workshop, to be honest. The Space Marines are their biggest sellers (according to a friend who has worked for them for yonks, selling Space Marine related material, models, books, game deals, etc., makes up for over 50% of Games Workshops profits these days, which is kind of insane given how many different games and factions they sell!) - and especially with them pushing their Black Library output a bit more as of late, the majority of which feature Space Marines, I'm not surprised to see them try to squeeze out any use of the term that isn't related to them.

At least it seems Hogarth should, by the looks of that Trademark stuff, have something to fight the dismissal of his book with. Hopefully he gets it back on Amazon soon!