In a press release from the firm representing Chapterhouse, Winston & Strawn have declared victory in defeating hundreds of Trademark and Copyright infringement claims from Games Workshop. The press release came earlier today, and is bound to be the starting gate for many small hobby related businesses worldwide.


Here is the press release.

via Winston &Strawn LLP (links found on the Bols lounge)
June 17, 2013
Winston & Strawn Defeats Hundreds of Trademark and Copyright Infringement Claims on Behalf of Pro Bono Client

Cutting-Edge Decision Protects Industries from Litigation Blocking Add-On Products

CHICAGO, IL – In a classic David-versus-Goliath battle, Winston & Strawn LLP represented Chapterhouse Studios LLC on a pro bono basis in a cutting-edge federal trademark and copyright dispute in the Northern District of Illinois (Games Workshop Limited v. Chapterhouse Studios LLC 1:10-cv-8103). The verdict of this jury trial, held in June 2013 before Judge Matthew Kennelly, confirms that copyright and trademark law should not be used to block add-on products. Winston & Strawn has litigated the case since 2010, and co-counsel law firm Marshall Gerstein joined the matter in 2012.

“This was a classic case of trademark and copyright bullying by a much bigger Plaintiff,” said Jennifer Golinveaux, partner in Winston & Strawn’s San Francisco office. “I am proud of the investment made by the firm, and the many attorneys who devoted themselves to making sure the intellectual property laws were not misused to squash a much smaller player.”

Games Workshop manufactures Warhammer 40,000, a tabletop battle game that works with armies of miniature figures and vehicles, while Chapterhouse sells customized add-on parts for the figures and vehicles used in the game. The United Kingdom-based Games Workshop, a company with $200 million per year in revenues, alleged more than 200 claims of copyright and trademark infringement against Chapterhouse, a small business run out of an individual’s garage in Texas. Games Workshop argued that it was seeking a complete shutdown of Chapterhouse’s entire business and although Games Workshop initially sought over $400,000 in damages, by the end of the two-week jury trial, the plaintiff dropped its damages demand to only $25,000.

The jury deliberated for more than two days and found that Chapterhouse could continue to make and sell over a hundred products without fear of copyright infringement. The jury also confirmed that Chapterhouse could continue to use most of Games Workshop’s asserted trademarks when selling compatible parts, including all nine of Games Workshop’s registered trademarks. Together with the summary judgment wins, the jury’s verdict confirmed Chapterhouse can continue to make and sell 111 products that Games Workshop hoped to block using copyright laws, and can continue to use 104 words and phrases that Games Workshop said were trademarked.

Imron Aly, lead trial attorney and partner in Winston & Strawn’s Chicago office added, “It was a pleasure to represent a small entrepreneur like Nicholas Villacci of Chapterhouse, who has a passion for his work and wanted to see his business survive.”

Julianne Hartzell, partner at co-counsel law firm Marshall Gerstein added, “We are proud that we were able to help protect Chapterhouse against the overreaching claims made by Games Workshop in such a substantial trademark and copyright dispute.”

43 Comments:

  1. Neglecting to mention that they DID lose about 1/3rd the claims, and have a decision for $25 000 in damages to GW. They paint it like it's a total win. It IS a win, just not as overwhelming as they would like to paint it.

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    1. From the perspective of the little guys, it's a pretty major win.

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    2. well once you debate with a beaaatch like gw with over 200'000 dollars over products a year ... its clearly ... they would at least want you to pay stuff ... just to be happy in the inside

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    3. Sorta like the Battle of Midway was not a complete win because the U.S lost 1/3 of its aircraft carriers ?

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    4. Difference between the case here and the Battle of Midway is that Midway was a single event in a war whereas each claim is a battle within the war that is the court case. So yeah, you could argue they won the 'war' against GW but they lost 1/3 of the 'battles'.

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    5. it is a win. GW opened a pandora's box with that trial. only time will say what will happened from now on, but it is a massive dent for GW.
      25K isn't much compared to the initial number they claimed. the ball is in GW's side now, let s see what they ll do with it.

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    6. Midway and any other american war is never a win if you look at loses of lives. But its the PR that lets you belive other than they just put men in the meat grinder till they won.

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    7. They mentioned the $25000. And while it was a positive spin anyway you look at it the verdict is a WIN for CHS

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    8. Warlord22 Midway was not an American war it was it was a battle that the highest ranking aviator on the Japanese side said change the course of World War Two in the pacific .To call World War Two an American war is either trivializing the deaths of millions,or to be ignorant of history and those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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    9. I know it was the turning point battle in the war against japan.
      I don´t see how you call it 2nd worldwar caus that had been over at that point in history.

      And to be historically acurate. America stayed out of the war. Did not help britian or russia in any other way than selling supplies to them. UNTILL it was time to collect the loot of war. After Britian had succeded in Afrika and Russia in east europ and the Nazis were cut of from oil and metal sources the war was over. And the americans only jumped on board after pearlharbour.

      Also don´t forget they were doing great bissuines with Hitler even after the french and British had declared war.

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    10. My original post was only metaphor, and not intended for a history lesson ,but Battle of Midway was on 4 June 1942.The Russian Battle of Stalingrad , to which you refer 23 Aug 1942-2 Feb 1943 and the turning point in Africa The battle of El Alamein in which Montgomery destroyed Romel was 23 oct-4 Nov 1942.The war would continue till 14 Aug 1945.I will not comment on yyour other rhetoric that's just as accurate.

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    11. Also there were reasons the U.S did not rush into war.One most Americans did not want to.Two when France fell the U.S did not have a large standing army ,and almost all the battle ships were from WWI.In fact for training the army painted tank on the side of trucks,but one week after Dunkirk the U.S. started designing the Sherman tanks ,and the Iowa battle ships.

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    12. In fact the U.S 8th air force that was given the mission to defeat the luftwaffe in Jan 1942 only had about 7 men and no planes.At the time only congress had the power to declare war, which it politically couldn't do unless the country was attacked. What the U.S could do while weapon systems were being designed is sell or give everything possible to the allies.

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  2. It's a press release, so it will naturally put the best spin on things. It's also timely, given the verdict. But it's potentially premature, unless there have been rulings on both motions for judgment as a matter of law (and the PACER docket does not reflect any decision on those), and on any appeal.

    In terms of the effect of the verdict on small manufacturers, I think we'll need to wait and see. As far as I know, we have yet to see a complete list of the precise trademarks, and which way they turned out.

    I suspect that we'll see a lot more small manufacturers go ahead and us the "compatible with [specific kit]" language that is, based on GW employee testimony, acceptable to GW. Beyond that, it's going to probably be a wait and see.

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  3. I don't know enough information about this case to truly determine which side was right or wrong.

    I am wary of Chapter House comparing the case to a David and Goliath situation. I've always felt that Chapter House piggy backed on GW creativity and hard work. Heading onto their site and seeing a Tyranid Mycetic Spore for sale as pure butt cheese.

    I don't like to jump on the trendy bandwagon of thrashing GW. People sound like parrots with their constant bitching- stop playing if you hate GW so much and leave it be. I digress- it was alarming that GW at first wanted $400.000 from Chapter House. Plus, they want to copy protect the term jet bike? Utterly astounding and over reaching on their part.

    Still- I imagine I need to thank Chapter House for doing riding on GW's accomplishments. Maybe it forced GW to finally release products at a faster rate. Still- Chapter House leaves a sour feeling for me...

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    1. "I don't know enough information about this case to truly determine which side was right or wrong."

      If GWS is too lazy and stupid to produce models for popular army choices they deserve whatever happens to them.

      People don't bitch because it is jumping on the bandwagon - stating this shows your ignorance, they do so because they are sick of being treated incredibly poorly by GWS and are honestly happy to support anyone who is filling the many gaps in service and products that GWS leaves.
      The bandwagon is the idiots blindly defending GWS, normally without bothering to do a little research or base their arguments on a informed opinion (aka actually knowing something).

      While you complain about people piggy backing off GWS's success, maybe take a moment and consider the authors and artist who GWS piggy backed off, while now forcing other people out of business while claiming ownership of broad reaching concepts.

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    2. The spore is a bad example as GW still has not offered their own version.

      A secondary result of this is that GW has a much tighter release shedule now, as they are afraid that other comanys will publish versions of items before they themselves can do it.

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    3. I agree with wizzy and have activily been boycotting chapterhouse.....I believe they bit the hand that feeds and gws current codices of not releasing a unit without a model is in dirrect responce to this, hibby already huet in one asspect. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

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    4. Hobby* hurt* dam auto correct phone.

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    5. honestly I'm a little distrubed by the implications that I could draw a picture and someone could make a toy of it without so much as a by your leave from me

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    6. Not only make a toy of it, but but use your trademarked name to sell it.

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    7. telling people to stop playing instead of bitching is not a valid point...people are passionate about their hobby which is a good thing. i have been involved with games-workshop for over 25 years and things have steadily went down hill. i still buy and play the game because i enjoy playing with my friends and collecting and painting, but i don't have to agree with their business practices.
      say for example someone is a die hard american but they don't like the policies a president put into effect, should they just shut up and move to a different company? nah they have every right to express their opinions in any way that they like...just like you did when you expressed your near sighted opinion...also HUZZAH for chapterhouse!

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    8. People who get defensive generally agree with the OP or feel that they have a valid point. Guilt of association? But near sighted, idiot, ignorant...signs of defensiveness here. The best- the American example- Americuh! Switching country to company by Republican Brandon Taylor is cute and sad.

      Anyhow- trolling is fun.

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    9. GW wouldn't copy right jet bike but they would have eldar jet bike trade marked and copyrighted in fact all the names in any GW product is trade marked and copyrighted

      that's why they always use odd named models.

      I actually hope GW appeal this case and get a win as I find chapterhouse only won at this time because it was a US based company and GW is a Uk based company.

      if GW was a US based company chapter ghouse wouldn't exist and would have been fully shut down on DCMA laws alone.

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  4. I think that this case will have done chapterhouse no favours. I had never really looked at there stuff before but decided to have a look once I heard about this case! GW need not worry, CH's quality looks awful and their designs aren't much better! Maybe they will become more ballsy now though...time will tell :)
    However, I believe this opens the door for other designers to provide similar, higher quality GW compatible sculpts and that can only be a good thing!

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    1. At a time when they're trying to claim back the bits market as a business, this couldn't be worse news for GW. They were hoping CHS would be unable to reference GW at all, that was their goal.

      Moving forward, this will cause a problem, unless GW appeal and get all of the trademark decisions reversed.

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    2. Pretty sure I read that GW were happy for them to say 'x product compatible with >insert GW product name<' in some of the documentation :S

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    3. Which is funny because it is at odds with the comments being heard about them wanting to claim back the bits market.

      As I say if that is their goal, then this decision will not help that.

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    4. True, but I dont recall reading anything official about them claiming the bits market back. Just various actions to attempt to stop others doing it. Perhaps they just want us to buy more full kits and have no intention of doing bits themselves :P

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    5. Allready the case
      Look at Puppetswar, kromelech, microarts just to name some of the "better" companys sculpting wise that is.

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  5. I'm never buying from Chapterhouse again...

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    1. Because now that they are vindicated in their totally legal production and selling of product, they don't give you that feeling of being a 'bad boy' breaking the law?

      Or just because you are stupid?

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    2. They lost on the doomseer and dark eldar model design. YOu cant really claim they are moraly on the high ground, when its more a case of you can´t prove it caus its only 90% copypaste job.
      And its not like their product is much cheaper or you can´t get better shoulderpads & doors from FW.

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    3. I love it when people insult over the internet. First off I have bought CHS products (Tervigon kit) before the lawsuit, and I must say they are so much worse than any Finecast model. The resin was shiny and tough to get a primer to hold even after rinsing the model in soapy water. Lastly almost all thier products (in my opinion) rip off GW designs. In the age where its cool to hate on GW, mark me down as an avid GW supporter. It's their game and their product, so if I don't like it I will play something else. Till then I will buy from GW, if other people have had success with this company then knock yourself out... Feel free to continue to insult me over the internet.

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    4. Ooohhhhhhh...them be fighting words Sean Snezek. Saying you're an avid GW fan is going to butthurt some posters here.

      I totally agree with what you say about Chapter House.

      Just because Kriswithak (do you get it? Kris With AK...hilarious!) says your stupid them you must be. Or Kriswithak is just one angry dude who can't stand a differing opinion from his. Stand with Chapter House or face the IRE of Kriswithak. God- anything but that!

      Hey Kriswithak...I love and support GW...and there's nothing that you can do about it...nothing.

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    5. @Kriswithak

      It's more to do with who owns what GW trademark and copyright all their product names so people can't copy or sell products using those names.

      I think that is fair enough, the have a small time company to come in and then sue you because they think they can just rip off another companies work, is a joke to be honest.

      It make the whole trademark system with in the US a joke and if you have copyright you suddenly can't sue or do but you'll lose to someone for breaking that copyright?

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  6. Also never forget that till this legal action GW always evaded to set in written what was acceptable to them.

    The swung their cease and desist hammer, and scared a lot of people with it, and who would not, against said 200 mio dollar juggernought.

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    1. Not true. There has been a IP page on their website talking about what you can and can not use from their IP and when.
      Ofc they are not going to hand out anything saying its ok to do copypast or alternative parts for their models.

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  7. I imagine the long term effect of this is going to be GW copyrighting and patenting every design/drawing before a codex gets released

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    1. They already do that ever since the 70's.

      But this post is saying this make ALL of GW trademarks and copyrights null and void.

      Which I find odd as the US companies have no problems with sueing people all over the world for the exact same thing.

      I'd say this is a case of GW being Uk so it's fine for a US person to happily break copyrights and trademarks to rip off anything they like from around the world.

      but if it's done the other way around you get hauled into court from anywhere in the world.

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