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Court rules in favour of EA over "trolling" Langdell

UPDATED: Edge Games founder submitted doctored box art and magazines to support trademark

A US district court has thrown out Edge Games boss Tim Langdell's attempted injunction against publisher EA.

Langdell has attempted to prevent a number of games from using the word 'edge' in their titles, claiming he owns the trademark to the word despite his so-named firm having released no titles for some 16 years.

His requested injunction against EA for Mirror's Edge has been denied by California's Judge Alsup, with the court suggesting he could later face criminal charges for earlier actions.

The court agreed with EA's assertion that Langdell had been deceiving the US patent office.

"Because plaintiff has failed to establish that it is likely to succeed on the merits that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief," read court documents obtained by GamesIndustry.biz, "that the balance of equities tips in its favor, or that an injunction is in the public interest, the motion for a preliminary injunction is denied."

"Given the suspect nature of Dr. Langdell's representations to both the USPTO and the Court concerning plaintiff's current and future sales and business activities, it is an open question whether plaintiff's business activities legitimately extend beyond trolling various gaming-related industries for licensing opportunities."

The court was also shown that Langdell had apparently submitted a faked cover of Edge magazine, which referenced his own products and organisation, as part of of his 2004 application for continuing trademark rights to the word 'edge.'

"EA also presents compelling evidence that there was no bona fide use of the "EDGE" mark in commerce by plaintiff, its licensees, or its predecessors in interest at all between 1989 and to at least 2003," wrote Judge Alsup.

"Even after 2003, the evidence that plaintiff had been making bona fide use of the "EDGE" mark in commerce is suspect. For example, Dr. Langdell's declaration asserted that Edge Games has been selling the video game Mythora (supposedly bearing the "EDGE" mark) since 2004.

"Curiously, while the exterior packaging submitted by Dr. Langdell to the USPTO for the Mythora video game included a website address, this website wasn't even registered by Edge Games until October 2008 - nearly four years after the game's purported release."

The court also found that Langdell had submitted a number of other doctored game boxes, revised to now display various versions of the trademarks he claimed to hold, in order to support his patent applications.

EA said in a statement to IndustryGamers that it was "pleased with the opinion issued by the court. We hope that this case serves as a milestone in protecting independent developers from nuisance litigation."

While Langdell's case vs EA has been thrown out, litigation against him is yet to be resolved - with the Judge observing that "the record contains numerous items of evidence that plaintiff wilfully committed fraud against the USPTO in obtaining and/or maintaining registrations for many of the asserted "EDGE" marks, possibly warranting criminal penalties if the misrepresentations prove true."

More on the ruling and the what it could mean for Langdell's future, can be read here.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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