Games Workshop and Chapterhouse begin trial today with jury selection, and its going to be one that we will keep an eye on. There are a ton of psuedo lawyers out there commenting on this one, and for now we will stay out of that (although I may try and get a guest post on the subject from a good Intellectual Property attorney if he agrees and has the time)

Well, we all know that this one has kind of hit me on the personal side of things with the site being taken down. This article though is not about my own dealings with Games Workshop's legal team, although we may be talking about that in the future.

So here is what is going on, and a huge thanks to Larry Vela for getting this all out. I wish I had the time to fly over to Chicago and sit in.

Please keep this one civil in the comments.

via Larry Vela over at Bell of Lost Souls
It's been a long time coming, but the GW vs Chapterhouse case is getting its day in court.

Here are the dates and details.  Today is jury selection and the trial begins immediately afterwards.

Games Workshop vs Chapterhouse

U. S. District Court
219 S. Dearborn St., Chicago, IL 60604
Tel: 312-435-5684

Judge Matthew F. Kennelly - Courtroom 2103

The Court sets aside the following dates for trial in this case:
June 3, 2013 (a.m. session - jury selection; p.m. session - trial), 
June 4-7, 2013, June 10-11, 2013, and, if needed for closing arguments, the morning of June 12, 2013.

The trial day typically will extend from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 or 1:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with morning and afternoon breaks. The Court notes that this is longer than its typical trial day. The Court reserves the right to extend any given trial day to 5:30 if warranted in order to complete the trial within the dates set aside.

Where Both Sides Left Off
After both sides re-submitted their best arguments and taking the new United States Copyright Office wrinkle into account, Judge Kennelly's updated Summary Judgement is in. 


The gist of the Copyright Office flap from last time can be summed up by both sides here:

"In connection with the Newly Accused Works. Chapterhouse asserts the affirmative defense that Games Workshop has committed fraud on the copyright office by manipulating this court proceeding and the copyright office in order to withhold information material to the Copyright Office’s determination of registrability with an intent to improperly influence the Copyright Office’s determination."

"Likewise, no facts supporting a claim of fraud on the Trademark Office have been identified in response to Games Workshop’s discovery requests or in Chapterhouse’s pleadings.
Chapterhouse has not even identified any registered trademarks it purports to challenge. As such, it should not be permitted to surprise Games Workshop at trial."
- Games Workshop

And Judge Kennelly issued the following:

"Chapterhouse has asked the Court to award it $1,039.00 in out-of-pocket costs that it incurred investigating two of GW’s applications to and correspondence with the Copyright Office as described earlier."

"Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e) imposes upon a party who has responded to a request for production of documents a duty to supplement its response “in a timely manner” once the party learns that the response is incorrect or incomplete...If a party fails to comply with Rule 26(e)’s requirements, a court may order payment of reasonable expenses caused by the failure, unless the failure “was substantially justified or is harmless.”"

"Having considered these factors, the Court concludes that GW should pay the expenses that Chapterhouse incurred in obtaining GW’s correspondence with the Copyright Office. Beyond the duty to supplement that Rule 26(e) imposes, Chapterhouse specifically asked GW to supplement its production of correspondence with the Copyright Office. GW did not do so but instead withheld correspondence that it knew Chapterhouse had not received, while attempting to contact the Copyright Office for further clarification."

"In his more recent affidavit dated March 13, 2013, which GW’s attorney submitted with GW’s response to Chapterhouse’s second motion for reconsideration, he again states that as of January 4, he “still had received no substantive communication from the Copyright Office (only a promise to respond to my June 26, 2012 email) . . . .” Id. at 1. This statement does not appear to be accurate. Prior to Carol Frenkel’s January 4 letter denying GW’s application, GW’s attorney received several e-mails from various Copyright Office personnel, most of which commented on the copyrightability of the sculptured shoulder pad. Considering the
circumstances, there is a strong indication that GW’s failure to disclose its correspondence with the Copyright Office was deliberate or at least reckless."


  1. Its proposterous that they would take precedings against a company that produces products to supplement its own range, which incidentally they have no intention of producing themselves. Plus it actually increases GWs sales. I hope they crash and burn with this trial and get their arses in gear spending our money where its best spent... Developing more models!!

    1. Seconded! If they were producing equivalents I could understand GWs concerns, without company's like this producing stuff that allows me to create the mins I want I wouldn't be back in the hobby. Not that GW cares about my old git money any more.

    2. I think the problem is the GW cares very much about your money.

      They are just unaware on how to actually achieve this because they are still thinking in 1990 terms of "If we make, they will buy", as opposed to the more modern thinking; "We should probably find out what our consumers want and do that".

  2. The way I see it - the main thing that chapterhouse did wrong was in using GW's IP's on their own site, advertising their own product. Lots of companies make similar products but chapterhouse slapped things like 'tyranid' and specifically saying things like "salamander chapter of space marines" and "for use in warhammer 40k" which ultimately they don't have the right to. Producing models and parts that are fully compatible, following similar asthetics etc is done by lots of companies and they don't really run into trouble. This case has mostly devolved into being about both parties being funny with bits of paperwork and stuff within the trial, and is probably partially causing some issues due to being in US court instead of UK court, but the real issue was chapterhouse using terms that they didnt really have rights to. People would still have bought the models and conversion kits and other things even if chapterhouse had not labelled them the way they did - it was the blatant use of Games Workshop terms and IP that they shouldn't have done; after all, how many companies make "laser energy turrets" that 'happen' to fit razorbacks and they don't run into problems. The way chapterhouse labelled their products made it look like they were in some way sanctioned by or were a sister company (like FW) to GW, which is wrong as they are not affiliated.

    1. And this is why I support GW on this. I am not the "OMG down with GW for going to court, no matter what".
      Chapter house used terms which are assosiated or trademarked to GW in their adverticing. IN other words they used GWs standing to sell their product, which is rather shady.

    2. Of course, one of GWs main contentions is that Chapterhouse confuses customers by using their IP. Of course if you look at Chapterhouses site, they say "for use with" X GW model. They never said their model was a X GW model, but that it is used for it.

  3. Holy smokes! I work a block from there and I have a day off. I will try to stop by tomorrow morning for a bit.

  4. While I don't agree with even a quarter of all the legal measures GW has been making of late, from a purely legal standpoint I think GW is in the right here. At the end of the day this isn't personal, it's just business. How you go about labeling things and marketing them is SO huge these days. a lot of other companies that are doing the same thing Chapter House is doing have figured this out, but everyone knows that they're all playing with a potential lawsuit fire and some of them get burned.

  5. GW has to establish that by activley defending thier IP, they created a legal US copyright. If they cannot do that in the opinion of the judge, they will lose thier case


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